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The most common reasons why your credit card purchase was declined

How to avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience of having your credit card purchases declined.

In the early days of credit cards people often only used them for the occasional one-off big purchase like a holiday, or maybe even a new television. Today it is more common for people to use their credit cards instead of cash and for transactions as small as fuel purchases, or a weekend takeaway.

At some point in your life, you will go through the slightly embarrassing experience of having a card transaction declined. If this happens locally, and you have another method of payment, it will an inconvenience and nothing more. However, if you are in a foreign country, and only have your credit card on you as a method of payment could be a real problem.

Use this guide to discover why your credit card transaction may have been declined and what you can do to avoid rejected purchases in the future.

Why was my credit card transaction declined?

To be certain of the exact reason your credit card transaction was declined, you need to speak to your credit card company. However, these are some of the common causes:

  • Odd spending pattern

If your card provider notices strange patterns in your spending habits, they may well put a block on your credit card for security purposes. For example, if you only ever use your credit card a couple of times a week for very small purchases, and then in one day there are 3-4 large purchases made, your issuer may flag the activity as strange or potentially fraudulent and will block the card.

  • Daily limit

Some credit cards have daily spending limit within the terms and conditions. If you have not read your terms properly, you may not be aware of these and this could result in you overspending and getting a transaction declined.

  • Spending abroad

If you’re planning to use your credit card overseas, you should contact your card provider to let them know beforehand. If your issuer sees a range of transactions happening overseas, they might suspect it’s a fraudulent payment and block your card. You also need to activate your card’s magnetic stripe for overseas use before travelling, which you can either do so online or via SMS.

  • EFTPOS offline

NETS EFTPOS machines use the phone network to communicate with the banks to verify and authorise your transactions. If there is a system outage at the point of sale or with the bank’s server, the transaction may be declined. If this is the case, you may be asked to sign the tax invoice for authorisation.

  • Exceeded your credit limit.

Every credit card comes with a maximum credit limit that you shouldn’t exceed. While some credit cards let you spend beyond the credit limit and will charge you a fee, others will simply decline the transaction if you spend beyond the limit. If you require more credit, you can find out how to increase your credit limit with our guide.

The different codes used to describe why your transaction was declined

Did you know that when your card is declined the EFTPOS machine is sent a code from the bank handling the transaction? These range from incorrect PIN, expired card, suspected fraud and more. These are some examples of response codes from Citibank:

Response CodeMeaning
41Lost card
55Incorrect PIN
54Expired card

These examples are taken from Citibank documentation, keep in mind that these may vary from bank to bank, and different EFTPOS machines at your chosen retailer.

Who to contact when your credit card transaction is declined

If your card is declined, it’s still best to get in contact with your bank first to confirm exactly why it was rejected and what you can do to resolve the issue. Use the table below to find the relevant contact details for your credit card issuer.

ProviderContact informationAvailability
DBSIn Singapore: 1800 111 1111
From overseas: (65) 6327 2265
24 hours, 7 days a week
POSBIn Singapore: 1800 339 6963
From overseas: (65)6339 6963
24 hours, 7 days a week
OCBCIn Singapore: 1800 363 3333
From overseas: (65) 6363 3333
24 hours, 7 days a week
UOBIn Singapore: 1800 222 2121
From overseas: (65) 6222 2121
24 hours, 7 days a week
HSBCIn Singapore: 1800 4722 669
From overseas: (65) 6472 2669
24 hours, 7 days a week
Citibank(65) 6225 522524 hours, 7 days a week
Standard CharteredIn Singapore: 1800 747 7000
From overseas: (65) 6747 7000
24 hours, 7 days a week
MaybankIn Singapore: 1800 629 2265
From overseas: (65) 6533 5229
24 hours, 7 days a week
Bank of ChinaIn Singapore: 1800 338 5335
From overseas: (65) 6338 5335
24 hours, 7 days a week
American Express1800 299 1997 24 hours, 7 days a week

A declined credit card can be an embarrassing and inconvenient occurrence, but usually, the bank puts it in place to protect your finances. If you’ve had a transaction rejected, make sure to get in touch with your bank immediately to report the issue and discuss your options.

Compare credit cards

Name Product Reward Cashback Offer Annual Fee Min Income - Singaporean and PR
HSBC Revolution Credit Card
Earn up to 10X Reward points or 4 miles per $1 spent on qualifying purchases.
Receive up to $200 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
$0 annual fee
$30,000
New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth $670) or $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend. Plus, receive up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
American Express Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Ascend Credit Card
For every $1 spent, earn 1.2 KrisFlyer miles on local purchases, 2 KrisFlyer miles on overseas spend in June and December, Singapore Airlines and KrisShop and 3.2 KrisFlyer miles on Grab.
N/A
$337.05 annual fee
$50,000
Get 16,400 KrisFlyer miles upon annual fee payment and first transaction within 30 days from card approval. An additional 15,000 KrisFlyer miles when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of Card approval. Valid until 30 Sep 2022. Also, earn 3,600 KrisFlyer miles based on the $3,000 spend above (based on 1.2 KrisFlyer miles per $1 spent locally). T&Cs apply.
Citi Prestige Card
Deals and discounts in more than 90 countries. Also, get six complimentary golf games across Asia
Up to 20% cashback at selected merchants
$535 annual fee
$120,000
Receive 120,000 ThankYou Points (48,000 Miles) when you pay the annual fee ($535) and spend $800 within two months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2022.
HSBC Visa Platinum Credit Card
Earn 1 Reward point for every $1 on all spend.
Up to 5% cash rebates on groceries, dining and fuel with minimum monthly spend of at least $600.
$0 annual fee for the first 2 years and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth $670) or $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend. Plus, receive up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
American Express Platinum Credit Card
Up to 50% off your food bill for unlimited visits at hotels around Singapore
N/A
$321 annual fee
$80,000
Get $100 CapitaVoucher upon payment of annual fee and first transaction within 30 days from card approval. An additional $100 worth of CapitaVouchers when you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months of card approval. Also, receive 2,500 Membership Rewards points from your base earn rate for the $2,000 spent. T&Cs apply. Valid until 30 Sep 2022.
Citi Cash Back+ Credit Card
Get up to 14% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell and 1.6% cash back on eligible retail purchases.
1.6% cash back on selected retail purchases
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Receive 10% cash back (up to $300 cash back) on up to $3,000 spend in the first 2 months. T&Cs apply. Valid until 31 Oct 2022.
HSBC Advance Credit Card
Receive up to $200 cashback when minimum spend requirements are met.
Enjoy up to 3.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year (permanently waived for HSBC Advance banking customers) and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
New cardholders can choose from a Samsonite Prestige 69cm Spinner Exp with built-in scale (worth $670) or $200 cashback upon $500 minimum spend. Plus, receive up to $150 cashback when you apply for supplementary cards. Existing HSBC credit cardholders are eligible to receive $50 cashback. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Dec 2022.
American Express True Cashback Card
Enjoy 1.5% cashback on all purchases with no minimum spend or cap. Plus receive up to $80 CapitaVouchers when a minimum spend of $250 is made in the first month.
Earn 1.5% cashback on all eligible spending with no minimum spend or cap
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $171.20 thereafter
$30,000
Apply today and get a 3% cashback bonus when you spend $5,000 in the first six months.
Citi Cash Back Card
Get up to 20.88% fuel discounts at Esso and Shell, 6% cashback on dining and 8% cashback on groceries.
6% cash back on dining, 8% cashback on groceries and petrol transactions. 0.25% cashback on other retail purchases, capped at $80 for all transactions per statement month.
$0 annual fee for the first 1 year and $192.60 thereafter
$30,000
Get a welcome gift of $300 cash back when you spend $800 in the first two months. T&Cs apply. Ends 31 Oct 2022.
Aspire Corporate Card
Enjoy exclusive perks and discounts with Aspire's extensive range of partners, redeemable at anytime
1% Cashback for qualified spend of above S$5,000. T&Cs apply
$0 annual fee
N/A
A corporate debit card for SMEs and Startups with no annual fee and low FX fees. Enjoy 1% cashback on marketing and SaaS spend. T&Cs apply.
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