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Why Your Credit Card Gets Declined

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It’s an embarrassing moment that you’ve likely experienced or at least feared: You’re standing at the cash register with a long line of people waiting behind you when the cashier announces that your credit card has been declined.

Getting declined can be a signal that you are in real financial trouble — something that many people don’t want to broadcast. But not always. There are some other reasons your card may be declined.

1. Low Limits/High Spending

Yes, your card may be declined because you maxed out your credit card. This means the purchase at hand would exceed the borrowing limit. The limit is set by the card issuer, but you can often ask for a limit raise. However, by keeping your limit low, you can avoid getting into trouble by overspending.

Maxing out your credit cards or spending a large percentage of your available credit (a metric called your credit utilization ratio) can have a negative impact on your credit score. If you want to see how your credit utilization is affecting your credit, you can see two of your credit scores for free on Credit.com.

2. A Fraud Warning

Another reason your credit card may get declined is if your purchase triggers a fraud warning. Sometimes if your purchase is outside of your normal spending habits, your credit card company will flag it and decline the transaction. More companies are keeping in touch with their cardholders through email, text and voice alerts. You can sign up for this service and get texted if the credit card company thinks a purchase looks suspicious so you can avoid an out-and-out denial of the purchase.

3. Travel

Often if you are making a purchase in an unfamiliar city or country, this can cause your card to be denied. Look into your credit card company’s policies. Some prefer for you to alert them ahead of time if you will be traveling. Make sure if you are traveling outside the country that you have the international phone number for your credit card issuer with you in case you need to reach out.

4. Your Card Is Expired

Whether the credit card company forgot to send you a replacement or you neglected to make the switch, sometimes your credit card denial is because the card has simply expired. This can be especially common with online shopping where your card information is stored by a company you shop with regularly. Call your credit card company to ask for a replacement. You can sometimes even request overnight delivery.

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