Why Is My Credit Card Being Rejected Online?

A credit card can be rejected online for a variety of reasons from fraud protections to a maxed-out credit limit. Explore a list of possible reasons why it might be happening to you.

Lindsay KonskoJul 29, 2014
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There are few things more vexing than entering all your credit card info to purchase something online, only to have your credit card rejected. You know the card is good. You know you entered the info correctly. So why was your darn credit card rejected online?

The reasons why your credit card gets rejected for online purchases generally are technology-related, somewhere along all the pinging and ponging of signals from one computer to another. We’ll go over those in a moment.

Credit card rejected online due to: Illegal transactions

First, however, be aware that most systems are pretty attuned to online gambling and other illegal transactions at this point. If you are trying to charge a gambling deposit, you may find your credit card rejected. In other cases, you’ll get accepted but immediately get a call from your card’s security department asking if the charge is legitimate.

The reason is that banks that facilitate illegal transactions can themselves be considered as aiding and abetting an illegal activity. They don't want the hassle.

Due to: Overseas transactions

Your credit card may be rejected if you attempt an international purchase, especially from China. This is a general security feature that almost all U.S. banks have in place. The first reason is that thieves are more likely to charge fraudulent purchases from overseas to make it more difficult for law enforcement to track them.

The second reason is that most illegal credit card transactions occur in foreign jurisdictions.

Due to: Fraud protection

The double-edged sword of credit card companies being held liable for fraudulent charges (instead of the consumer) is that they are hyper-vigilant over anything that looks suspicious. This could be anything. It might be a very large purchase, because you usually only make small purchases.

It could be a purchase at an electronics store when you normally never charge anything from that category. It may be many transactions in a very short period of time. Whatever it is, it’s based mostly on your spending habits and that you stepped outside the box.

Due to: You have a pending hold

This usually occurs with travel. If you’ve rented a car and checked into a hotel in close proximity, both the car rental company and hotel will tack on deposits to your card to make sure you pay what you end up owing.

In these cases, you may send your card over its limit.

Due to: Your card status changed

Are you an authorized user on someone else’s credit card? Your credit card will be rejected if that person has removed you.

Due to: Everyday mistakes

  • You entered the information incorrectly.

  • You have an old address or phone number still on file.

  • You reached your credit limit.

  • You aren’t up to date on card payments and the issuer cut you off.

  • Your card has expired.

What to do

First, double-check that you’ve entered all your information correctly. If you still are being rejected, then contact the credit card company — if they haven’t contacted you first. For anything illegal or suspicious, they will likely get in touch with you.

Nobody else will tell you this, but we will – if you’ve been dumped as an authorized user, you may have bigger problems. Somebody de-authorized you without telling you. If it’s a spouse, that may be a tip-off that your marriage is in trouble. If it’s a parent, they may have lost trust in you. Get on top of your personal life situation right away.