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Reasons Why Your Debit Card Was Declined

In the UK, there are 97 million debit cards in circulation. Of these, 84% are contactless. For most people, a debit card is the preferred option of payment.

First off, it helps you avoid overspending. This is because a debit card draws money the user already has, unlike a credit card. With a debit card, you don’t have to carry cash with you. If you need cash, you can always stop at an ATM and take out the amount you need.

While a debit card is the preferred option of payment for many people, it may get declined. Want to know the reasons why your debit card was declined? Keep reading!

1. You Reached Your Spending Limit

One of the reasons why they declined your debit card is because you reached your spending limit. Banks impose a spending limit on debit cards per day. For example, a bank may impose a purchase limit of £100 to £500.

The spending limit for contactless debit cards will rise to £100. Before the start of the pandemic, the spending limit was between £30 to £45. The increase in the limit will enable shoppers to pay for higher value transactions such as their weekly shopping.

2. PIN Entered Incorrectly Too Many Times

If you enter your debit card PIN incorrectly more than 3 times, your card will get locked. As such, you’ll be unable to make ATM withdrawals, locally and internationally. It will also be impossible to make purchases in-store and online using your debit card.

This is a security measure and prevents unauthorized users from using your debit card. In fact, it’s a sign that thieves are trying to guess your PIN. To correct this, visit your bank branch and place a request for a new PIN. Banks and security experts recommend that you change your debit card PIN every three to six months.

3. The Merchant Turned off Their Chip Reader

If you’re having difficulty purchasing at a specific store, it means the merchant turned off their chip reader. If this happens to you, request for an EMV compliant card reader. This type of card reader uses computer chips to authenticate transactions. It also encrypts bank information making it more secure than older magnetic stripe cards.

As of October 2015, if a customer uses a fraudulent debit card and the merchant does not have an EMV card reader, the merchant is liable for the fraud. When making a transaction, ask for an EMV compliant terminal.

4. Merchant Has a Lower Daily Limit

If the merchant has a daily lower limit than you, your card issuer will decline your debit card. Let’s assume the merchant has a daily limit of £700. But your debit card has a daily limit of £1,000. The card issuer will decline your debit card.

To counter this problem, make multiple transactions. The limits are usually set by the card issuer.

5. Inconsistency In Your Transaction Record

Card issuers can decline debit cards that provide different information than what the bank has in its database. For example, when making a purchase online, your billing address differs from what your bank has on file.

To prevent the card issuer from declining your debit card, make sure your billing and shipping address match what the bank has on file. Otherwise, you will be unable to make purchases online in the future.

6. When You Make Out of the Ordinary Purchases

One of the benefits of having a debit card is that it lets you make purchases online and in-store. As such, you don’t have to carry cash with you. Just swipe your debit card, enter your PIN correctly, and you can make purchases conveniently.

Can you buy everything with a debit card? Yes, you can buy everything using your debit card. For example, you can purchase groceries, a bus ticket, pizza, or coffee. But when you make extraordinary purchases such as buying a £2,000 large screen Smart TV or sofa, the bank’s fraud protection system will receive an alert. This will result in your debit card getting declined.

7. Debit Card Not Compatible

Your debit card may get declined if the merchant does not support the card. The most popular debit cards in the UK are Mastercard and Visa. If the merchant does not support Mastercard and you use your Mastercard debit card to make purchases, they will decline your debit card.

Before making a purchase, in-store or online, inquire if the merchant supports both Mastercard and Visa.

8. Expired Debit Card

If your debit card expires, you will be unable to make purchases online or in-store using your debit card. The date on which your debit card will expire is usually printed on the front of your card. You should see the month, and year your debit card will expire. It’s usually shown as follows: “Expires End MM/YY.”

Generally, it takes two to three years for your debit card to expire. If you discover you have an expired debit card, visit your bank branch to receive a new one with a new expiration date. Do debit cards renew automatically? Debit cards are automatically issued to customers as long as the card is active at the time of replacement.

Card issuers replace debit cards around the first part of the month the debit card is set to expire.

9. You’ve a Non-Activated Debit Card

When you receive a new debit card, it will come with instructions to activate it. Banks allow debit cardholders to activate their cards online or via the online bank app. Alternatively, you can visit your bank branch to have your debit card activated in person or make a phone call.

What happens if I don’t activate a debit card? Your card issuer will contact you within 45 to 60 days to determine if you received your new debit card. However, some card issuers allow shoppers to make small purchases using their non-activated debit cards. But this varies with issuing banks.

10. Suspicious Activity Detected

According to the banking body UK Finance, a total of £412 million was lost across 189,000 cases of bank transfer fraud between May 2019 and the end of 2020. Bank transfer scammers steal £700,000 each day from victims in the UK. This works out to £491 a minute. Fraud in the UK payment industry soared because of the sharp rise in authorised push payment scams.

To protect their customers from fraudsters, banks use state of the art fraud detection systems. If the system detects suspicious activity, they will need to talk to you to verify. For example, you live in London. But your transaction record lists an international payment in Toronto or Los Angeles. This shows that someone stole your debit card or you travelled and forgot to inform your card issuer.

If travelling internationally, inform your bank. That way, if something happens, the bank will not think it’s fraud.

11. Not Having Enough Money

Unlike a credit card, a debit card is usually connected to a bank account. As such, it works like an electronic check. When you make a purchase in-store or online, payment is usually deducted from your savings or checking account. Before approving a transaction, the bank will always verify electronically if money is available in your bank account.

If the amount in your bank account exceeds the total of your purchase, the bank will authorize the transaction. If the amount is less than your purchase total, the bank will decline the transaction. Check if funds are available in your bank account.

How to Fix a Declined Debit Card

If your bank declined your debit card due to insufficient funds, you need to add money. You should also contact your bank if you:

  • Detect fraudulent activity
  • Have a non-activated debit card
  • Have an expired debit card
  • Make out-of-ordinary purchases.

If your card type is not accepted, check if the merchant supports your debit card. Most places will take Mastercard and Visa debit cards. But a few merchants accept either Mastercard or Visa debit cards. Inquire before making a purchase.

Remember, change your PIN every three months, inform your bank if travelling abroad and add money to your bank account.