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Credit and Debit Card Decline

Credit card or debit card transactions are declined for a variety of reasons, resulting in different error categories, including but not limited to communication errors, merchant errors and fraud prevention declines.

There are few common decline error messages:

Error Message Why This Error Occurs
Invalid credit card number The card number entered is invalid.
Invalid address The billing address does not match what is on file with the issuer.
Do not honor The issuer’s fraud filter has been triggered.
Processor declined Payment authorization has been declined by the issuer.
Payment collection failed The gateway’s fraud filter has been triggered.
Expired card The credit card being used has expired.
Transaction not allowed Payment authorization has been declined at the issuing bank.
Card reported lost or stolen The issuer has marked this card lost or stolen.
Payment instrument not supported The gateway doesn’t support the payment method being used.
Insufficient funds There aren’t enough funds in the associated bank account to complete this payment.

There are two types of declines merchants encounter when attempting to process a credit or debit card transaction:

  • Hard Declines: Declines that result from problems that cannot be resolved immediately, such as expired/lost/stolen card, insufficient funds and invalid card number or expiration date. The merchant cannot obtain the authorization from the issuer.
  • Soft Declines: Declines that result from a temporary problem with a gateway, processor or card network, such as billing address/ZIP code mismatch or card verification value (CVV) mismatch. The issuer has approved the authorization request and placed a hold on funds in the cardholder’s account. The merchant has not initiated the settlement. 

The major difference between the two types of declines is that soft declines can be resubmitted one or two days after the decline occurred in an attempt to obtain a valid authorization. Hard declines should not be retried. The reason for the decline is not temporary and this type of decline will not be successful with subsequent retries.

Regardless of the decline types, the merchant should take action to ensure the payment will not be lost: 

  • Ask the cardholder to contact the issuer to resolve the decline issue.
  • Advise the cardholder to try the payment again (e.g., card information may be miskeyed).
  • Suggest alternate payment methods such as a bank transfer or electronic check to reduce the chances of the cardholder giving up on a purchase all together.
  • Send reminder emails to your customers to update card expiration dates or new card information for recurring payments.
  • Configure fraud filters to flag transactions for review instead of a full block in the gateway. 
  • Upon reviewing the transaction, the merchant may:
    • Continue to process the sale by requesting settlement.
    • Reject the sale by requesting an authorization reversal to remove the hold on funds in the customer's account.

  1. Sign in to CyberSource Business Center
  2. Go to the left navigation menu Transaction Management > Transactions 
  3. Select +ADD A FILTER
  4. Scroll to select Reply > Card Type Not Accepted > AVS Mismatch or CVN Mismatch
  5. Change the Date Range as needed. This search will reveal any orders that have been soft declined because of an incorrect AVS or CVN.
  6. Select on each declined transaction Request ID to open the Transaction Details page
  7. Choose AUTHORIZATION REVERSAL or SETTLE on the top right corner of the screen
Last Updated: Oct 24, 2022


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