It’s a fact of modern life that we can’t get very far using cash alone. Whether you’re renting a car, buying an airline ticket, or checking into a hotel, there are some things you just can’t do without a valid credit card. Sometimes your credit card gets declined. This can put a real damper on your plans, especially in an emergency situation. Here are the top eight reasons why a credit card can get declined — along with ways to avoid it happening to you.
1. You exceeded your credit limit
Maybe you weren’t paying attention to your billing statements or maybe your spending increased recently. Whatever the reason, exceeding the limit allowed on your card will almost always result in a declined purchase. To avoid this, pay close attention to your statements and contact your card issuer if you’re close to your limit.
2. Your fraud protection was activated
In an effort to prevent identity theft, credit card issuers will track our purchases and compare them with our past spending habits. Unusual spending activity might activate automatic fraud protection built into your card, suspending the account. To avoid this, contact your card issuer if you plan to travel overseas or are planning to use the card for a large purchase.
3. You entered incorrect personal information
An online merchant could decline your card if you provided any information that doesn’t exactly match the records kept by your credit card company. This is a common occurrence, but could result in a temporary suspension on your card in an effort to protect you from unauthorized use of your account. Avoid this by carefully reviewing any information you provide for online purchases.
4. Your account is delinquent
Credit card issuers aren’t very forgiving about not being paid. If you’ve allowed your account to become delinquent, this will usually result in a suspended card that’ll get declined. What’s the solution? Bring your account current and set reminders to help you pay bills on time.
There are actually services out there that will help remind you to take care of your bills and payments.
5. Your card has expired
It can happen to anyone — you’ve gotten a new card in the mail, but somehow it went unnoticed. If you find yourself holding an expired card, it will surely be declined. Contact your issuer and ask them to send a new card at once. They may even forward one overnight wherever you are.
6. You’re making an international purchase
If you seldom make international purchases, your card may get declined as a safety precaution when you do. This applies to purchases you make online if the vendor is an international company. Try contacting your card company and letting them know you will be making international purchases, whether online or physically overseas. They’ll note your plans and you avoid service disruptions.
7. Your card is damaged
Although your credit card may look like a simple piece of plastic, it actually has some very advanced technology built into it. For example, the magnetic strip on the back of your card contains information necessary to validate purchases. If it’s damaged, the card will be declined and you won’t be able to finish the transaction. Avoid this by being careful with the card and protecting the strip.
8. Account on hold due to inactivity
If you’re attempting to use a card that hasn’t been used in a long time, it may have been placed on hold. Card companies do this to avoid someone finding a forgotten card and using it. You can avoid this problem by contacting the card issuer and letting them know you will be using a card that has been inactive.
These are the top eight reasons why your card may be declined and what you can do to avoid the hassle of it happening to you. Be aware of the rules credit card companies have so you can save time and avoid trouble when you need to use your card.
Looking to open a new credit card for yourself? Check out our hand-picked best credit cards of 2014.
Photo source: unibulmerchantservices.com
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.