Credit Card Transaction Declined: Tips to avoid your credit card purchases from being declined

Information verified correct on October 21st, 2016

How to avoid the embarrassment and inconvenience of having your credit card purchases declined.

In the early days of credit cards people often only used them for the occasional one off big purchase like a holiday, or maybe even a new television. Today it is more common for people to use their credit cards instead of cash, and for transactions as small as fuel purchases, or a weekend takeaway.

At some point in your life you will go through the slightly embarrassing experience of having a card transaction declined. If this happens locally, and you have another method of payment, it will an inconvenience and nothing more, however if you are in a foreign country, and only have your credit card on you as a method of payment you could have a real problem.

We need to know why sometimes our credit cards are declined, and see what we can do to avoid the situation.

Why was my credit card transaction declined?

To be certain of the exact reason your credit card transaction was declined you really need to speak to your credit card company. There are however some fairly standard reasons your card may be denied.

  1. Odd spending pattern
    If your card provider notices strange patterns in your spending habits they may well put a block on your credit card for security purposes. If you only ever use your credit card a couple of times a week for very small purchases, and then in one day there are 3-4 large purchases made you issuer may flag the activity as strange and potentially fraudulent and will block the card.
  2. Daily limit
    Some credit cards have daily spending limit within the terms and conditions. If you have not read your terms properly you may not be aware of these and this could result in you overspending and having a transaction declined.
  3. Spending abroad
    If you are going abroad you should really contact your card provider to let them know. If they suddenly see a range of transactions happening overseas, they may well suspect fraud and block your card.
  4. EFTPOS Offline
    EFTPOS machines use the phone network to communicate with the banks to verify and authorise your transactions. If there is a system outage at the point of sale or at the banks server end the transaction may come back declined. If this is the case, you may be asked to sign the tax invoice for authorisation.

Different codes for different reasons

Did you know that when you card is declined the EFTPOS machine is sent a code from the bank handling the transaction. These range from Expired card to incorrect PIN to even information as to whether the card is stolen. Here are some you may encounter:

Response CodeMeaning
41Card has been lost – take into possession
55Incorrect PIN
54Expired Card
59Suspected fraud on Credit Card – take card into possession
33Expired card – take card into possession

These examples are taken from Commonwealth Bank documentation, keep in mind that these may vary from bank to bank, and different EFTPOS machines at your chosen retailer. Sometimes the EFTPOS machine screen will show an exact error message such as “Incorrect PIN”

In most cases of your credit card being declined, the ideal option is to contact your bank and explain to them what has happened and how you can rectify it.

Keep them informed

It is worth noting that in all the situations discussed none of the reasons for card denial were to do with the card holders financial standing. Most times when a block is put on your credit card it has been because of a suspected security breach, and with credit card fraud on the up it is better to be safe than sorry.

In most cases if you contact your card provider and let them know of any impending changes to your spending habits you can avoid the embarrassment, and annoyance of a refused transaction.

Who to contact when your credit card transaction is declined

You need to contact your bank to enquire why your credit card transactions are being decline. Sometimes anti-fraud measures are triggered so you will need to confirm this with your bank. Check the table below for the phone number you may need to contact for the relevant credit card provider.

Credit card providerPhone numberAvailable (AEST)


13 13 14


Bank Australia

132 888

8:00am to 8:00pm, Monday to Friday


13 17 19

8:00am to 8:00pm, 7 days

Bank of Melbourne

13 22 66


Bank of Queensland

General card enquiries: 1300 55 72 72

American Express: 1300 366 220


7:00am to 7:00pm, Monday to Sunday


13 13 76



13 24 84



Mastercard: 1300 306 397

Platinum: 1300 552 710

8.00am to 9.00pm Weekdays

8.00am to 8.00pm Saturday

8.30am to 8.00pm Sunday


Commonwealth Bank

13 2221



133 282

8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday

8:00am to 4:00pm Saturday


132 152

8:00 am to 9:00 pm, 7 days


1300 150 100


Macquarie Bank

1300 150 300



13 22 65

8:00am to 7:00pm Weekdays

9:00am to 6:00pm Weekends


13 33 30

8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Saturday


13 11 75



13 37 39



Gold Card enquiries: 1300 367 228

Platinum and Platinum Plus Card enquiries: 1300 859 100

8:00am – 8:00pm, 7 days


1300 10 1234

8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Friday

9:00am to 5:00pm Saturday

10:00am to 5:00pm Sunday

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12 Responses to Credit Card Transaction Declined: Tips to avoid your credit card purchases from being declined

  1. Default Gravatar
    Diana | July 30, 2016

    My Amex Black card is not functioning has been declined a few times since leaving home. Our Li led MasterCard is okay. Please let me know URGENTLY VIA EMAIL why it is nit functioning.

    • Staff
      May | August 1, 2016

      Hi Diana,

      Thank you for your inquiry. Please note that you’ve come through to we are an Australian financial comparison website and general information service and we do not represent any credit card company

      Just to confirm, what’s the name of the credit card company that issued your AMEX card? Since we do not have access to your credit card account, you’d be best if you contact your credit card issuer directly so they can advise why your credit card was declined.


  2. Default Gravatar
    M | August 30, 2015

    I have an eftpos debit card and can use my savings and current account with a PIN. Can I use it to access my credit account?I tried but the transaction was declined.
    The card has an embedded chip.

    • Staff
      Jonathan | September 1, 2015

      Hi M E, thanks for your inquiry!

      To access a credit account you will need an eligible credit card. It would be best to contact your bank directly to access your credit account.



  3. Default Gravatar
    amanda | April 15, 2015

    My westpac debit card said declined but i had my pay in there. Could it be due to my account was overdrawn for 2 weeks but its now in credit? How do i use my card now?

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | April 15, 2015

      Hi Amanda,

      Thanks for your question.

      You might want to log in to your Internet banking account and check you had sufficient funds to make the transaction. If your account was overdrawn you were likely charged fees (Westpac charges $9) which may have taken more funds out of your account than you realised. If your account was in credit and you had sufficient funds to complete the transaction, you might want to get in contact with Westpac directly to discuss why the transaction didn’t go through.

      I hope this has helped.



  4. Default Gravatar
    michael | January 19, 2014

    Was declined 2 times last Friday from online companies came back declined code 05 , I rang bank and they said there was sufficient funds and no block on my card ,I did not exceed limit and phone lines were not down no won can give me answer as to why.

    • Staff
      Matt | January 20, 2014

      Hi Michael

      Thanks for your message and sorry to hear you’ve been having problems.

      Perhaps there was other circumstances in place with the error code 05. Is your card working now?


  5. Default Gravatar
    Jason | November 5, 2013

    Why doesn’t your bank contact you first before they block you card in regards to the odd spending pattern?

    • Staff
      Jacob | November 6, 2013

      Hi Jason.

      Thanks for your question.

      It’s just a security thing. If you don’t let your bank know about your travel plans, the bank has to be quick to block your account if they suspect a suspicious transaction. The bank or lender wants your funds to be secure so as soon as they sense something odd they block the card right away.

      Let the bank know about your travel plans if you want to stop this from happening to you while you’re overseas.

      I hope this helps.

  6. Default Gravatar
    sam | December 23, 2012

    i want to know why my transaction on atm using my card is displaying decline transaction

    • Staff
      Jacob | December 25, 2012

      Hi Sam. Best to contact your lending institution.

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