5 Reasons Online Stores Keep Declining Your Credit Card

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  • If you enter the wrong billing address, online stores will usually decline your credit card.
  • Another time this can happen is when the purchase exceeds your card's credit limit.
  • The fraud prevention systems used by merchants and credit card companies can also lead to purchases getting declined.

Here's how to resolve an always-annoying issue.

When you've gone all the way through the purchase process, there's nothing more deflating than seeing that the transaction was declined. It's usually easy to order from online stores, but sometimes you can't seem to get the purchase to go through.

This is most often due to an error with the information you entered, a problem with the card, or because the purchase set off a potential fraud alert. Below, you'll find the most common reasons for declined transactions on your credit cards and what you can do about them.

1. The billing address is incorrect

If the billing address you entered in the store's site is different from what's on file with your credit card issuer, the transaction will most likely be declined. This is a standard fraud prevention measure.

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Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Double check the billing address on file with your card issuer. It could be out of date if, for example, you moved and haven't updated it yet. Correct the billing address you're using with the online store, and the purchase should go through.

2. It would exceed your credit limit

Card issuers normally decline transactions that would exceed your credit limit. To see if this is causing the problem, log in to your credit card account and see how much available credit you have. If you have $200 of available credit, and you're trying to make a $250 purchase, it's going to be declined.

As a general rule, it's better to not use too much of your credit limit. If you're regularly near your limit because you're in debt, then focusing on paying off credit card debt is a good idea. It can raise your credit score and help you save on interest charges. If the problem is that your card has a low credit limit, try asking for a credit limit increase.

3. The shipping address is different from the billing address

The shipping address and the billing address on an order don't need to match. Stores understand there are reasons to send an order to a different address, like if you're ordering a gift for someone.

However, in some cases, this can trigger a store's credit card fraud detection. If so, contact the store's customer service to verify your identity and let them know you're placing a legitimate order.

4. The purchase doesn't fit your usual spending habits

Credit card companies have their own fraud prevention systems that automatically block suspicious transactions. If all of your credit card purchases are $100 to $200 at most, and you then try to buy a $5,000 necklace online, that purchase could get flagged.

When this happens, your card issuer will typically get in touch with you via text message, phone call, or email to ask if you attempted the purchase. Once you confirm this, you can attempt the purchase again, and it should go through.

5. You're using a VPN

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a way people protect themselves online by encrypting their data and identity. But if you're using a VPN while shopping online, it could be the reason your order gets declined.

Some online stores detect VPN use and automatically block those orders as a security measure. Although there's nothing wrong with VPNs, they are often used by cybercriminals to hide their identity. If you're using a VPN and your purchase isn't going through, you'll most likely need to disconnect from it, at least while you place your order.

If your online order is getting declined and you can't figure out why, contact the store first to see what it can tell you. Customer service may be able to assist you with making the purchase. If not, the next step is to contact your credit card issuer. Between the merchant and the card issuer, you should be able to find out what's going wrong and how to fix it.

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