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While it’s an annoyance, in many cases, your card may be declined as a protective measure. In other cases, the problem can be solved with a phone call or by tracking your spending better. Keep the lines of communication open, and you should enjoy uninterrupted card activity.

The next time you do find yourself faced with a declined card, here are some tips for how to handle it:

In the moment

You should always have more than one way to pay. Even if your card isn’t declined, you may run into issues with a merchant that doesn’t accept your card issuer or takes cash only. Keep another card as backup, plus your debit card and a bit of cash in your wallet just in case.

You can attempt to call your issuer on the spot to try and solve the problem quickly, if your declined card is your only available form of payment. But that’s probably not the most efficient option. Save your purchase for another time and leave the store to figure out what the issue is.

If you find yourself in the worst-case scenario, left without a backup payment for goods or services you’ve already used, try calling a nearby friend or family member who can help you out on short notice.

Otherwise, you should look to the merchant to work out a plan. Give the business your contact information and ask if you can return later on with your payment. Stay calm and polite, and cooperate with the manager or business owner so you can find a viable solution for both parties.


The first item on your to-do list after your card is declined should be calling your credit card issuer. Your issuer will be able to determine why you were unable to make the transaction, and help you work out a solution to regain access to your credit line.

If it was a case of suspected fraud, you may be asked to verify previous purchases or your location to prove you are the account holder. If your card is expired, you’ll need to go home and activate the new card. Missed payments and closed accounts may be a bit more time-consuming to solve, but your issuer can help you explore options for repayment and bring your account back in good standing.

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