Credit Card Decline Codes: A Breakdown

By Erica Berghan

Estimated read time: 6 minutes, 34 seconds

As an online merchant, your website processes multiple credit card payments a day. In a perfect world, each transaction would go something like this: Your customer puts your product in their cart, enters their credit card information, clicks pay, and everyone lives happily ever after.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

Chances are that you’ve seen plenty of instances when customers’ cards get declined, resulting in dreaded credit card declined codes.

According to global statistics, nearly 2 billion credit card transactions are declined each year. Even with a reliable ecommerce partner like FastSpring, declines will inevitably show up. Although declined cards are usually out of your hands and more to do with your customers’ bank, it can be frustrating to deal with.

When transaction issues come up, it helps to know how to explain why a card was declined. Since you may find yourself faced with an especially irritated client, having answers can help de-escalate the situation.

Because there are so many different reasons why credit card declines can happen, it helps to know what each one is, so you know the best way to solve the situation as fast as possible.

Each reason why a card gets declined comes with its own unique credit card decline code. The codes are known as either soft or hard. Soft declines, as the name suggests, are less serious, usually temporary, and can often be solved quickly. Hard declines, on the other hand, cannot be solved by attempting the charge again, and require corrective steps. The cardholder’s bank has declined the transaction due to security reasons, and they will need to be contacted immediately.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the most common credit card declined reason codes and what each one means.

 

Code  Explanation
Decline Code R0 or R1  This code is something you’ll only see if you’re a merchant that charges recurring payments. R0 or R1 means that your customer has contacted their financial institution to request an end to their scheduled payments with your business. 

 

If you believe that this was possibly an error, simply contact your customer. In some cases, it may indeed be a result of your customer denying charges or merely a technical error. It’s always best to ask for clarity rather than to assume they no longer want to work with you. 

00

01

02

When you see a decline code 01, There’s not much information you can give your customer other than they should call their bank. This code can be a wild card, indicating a variety of potential problems.  A simple call will help clarify why the card issuer has blocked the transaction. 
04 This is a general decline that may or may not indicate a stolen card. The cardholder’s bank should be contacted.
05 One of the most common credit card processing error codes is host code 05. This code indicates that the customer’s credit card company is telling you not to honor the card. It’s usually because of an unrecognized billing address; however, there’s no way to be sure. The best thing to do is to advise your customer to call their bank. 

The bank will be able to explain why they declined the transaction and whether it’s possible to remedy the situation. If it is, your customer will be able to attempt the transaction again. 

07 This code indicates potential fraud. The bank needs to be contacted. 
12 A decline error code that indicates that information has been entered incorrectly. Verify the card’s numbers and attempt to run the card again. 
14 In some cases, your customer may have incorrectly entered their card number. It’s an honest mistake that can happen from time to time.  It’s safe to assume that when a decline code 14 comes up, someone merely mistyped the account number rather than jumping to more insidious conclusions. 

Simply verify your customer’s credit card number one more time, and most likely, the problem will subside. 

15 This code appears when the first numbers of an entered card do not match the specific type of card. Different credit cards start with different digits. For example, if you are attempting to enter a Mastercard, it must start with a 5.
19 An unknown generic error has occurred during the transaction.  Attempt the charge again.
28 This is a no response code indicating the card issuer is not communicating to the transaction attempted. Wait several minutes, and attempt again. 
41 A decline code 41 comes up when your customer’s bank has the card on file reported as lost or stolen. More often than not, it’s someone attempting a fraudulent charge; however, there are occasions where this is not the case. 

In the event that it was a scheduled transaction, for example, your customer may have reported the card lost or stolen before the charge went through. In which case, simply ask your customer for an alternative form of payment. 

43 Decline code 43 is similar to 41; however, unlike 41, which indicates the customer reported the card as lost or stolen, a 43 means that it was specifically reported as stolen. Rather than informing your customer that they are under suspicion of theft, instead, instruct them to call the number listed on the back of their card. 
51 The first assumption that comes to mind when a credit card gets declined is that it doesn’t have enough money on it. Although this isn’t always the case, in many situations, the most obvious conclusion is the right one. A decline code 51 is no exception. It’s a clear indication that your customer’s bank has denied the transaction due to insufficient funds. 

In many cases, your customer may not be aware that their card has surpassed their fund limit, in which case the processor response code 0051 may come as a surprise. Suggest that they contact their card issuer, and in the meantime, suggest that they attempt the charge again with another form of payment. 

54 This code is saying that the expiration date on the credit card number associated with the charge has expired. In some circumstances, this could result from a simple typo, or your customer may need to contact their bank to ask for a new card. In the meantime, a simple fix is another form of payment. 
57 Code 57 is communicating that the nature of the transaction is forbidden. This typically occurs with business cards, that are limited to specific charges. 
58 This means that your merchant account requires configuration. You should contact your provider to do so.  
62 There are two possible reasons why this code appears. Either your customer is attempting to pay with a card that isn’t authorized for online charges, or they are attempting to pay with a type of card that your system isn’t configured for. They’ll need to find an alternative form of payment.
63 This code indicates a security violation specifically pertaining to the three-digit CVV number on the back of a customer’s card. In some cases, reattempting the charge without entering the three-digit number may result in a successful transaction. However, if it doesn’t process, it’s possible that the charge may be flagged as fraudulent.    
65 Error code 65 is signaling that your customer has exceeded their credit limit. They’ll need to pay with another card or request a credit increase through their bank. 
85 

00  

91

A communication error has taken place. Attempt the charge again, and, if it’s unsuccessful, contact the company who does your payment processing.
93 There is a violation flagged on your customer’s account. Instruct them to call their bank and ask for clarity. 
96 A general system error. After a few moments have passed, feel free to attempt the charge again. 

Familiarize Yourself

While some credit card error codes are easily remedied by the customer taking simple steps, other credit card codes can be more delicate to deal with. By equipping yourself with this detailed information behind the most common error codes, you’ll know whether the transaction should be reattempted or not.

Erica Berghan

Erica is a writer by day and mom by afternoon, evening, way too early in the morning, and middle of the night. When not writing or “momming,” you can find her enjoying the outdoors, shamelessly watching reality television, or publishing Instagram stories of her cat.

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