12 Reasons Why My Debit Card Declined [& How To Fix It]

Have you ever tried to use your debit card and it didn’t work? Did you figure out why? Here are 12 reasons why your debit card might not work and how to solve these issues.

Why is my debit card declined? That’s something many people ask themselves. 

I know that having your debit card declined can be very frustrating and embarrassing. You don’t want to think about it, and you don’t want to experience it when you swipe your card. 

In this article, we will look into different reasons why your debit card declined and we will also discuss how to avoid this from happening in the future. These are many reasons why your debit card got declined, we’ll get into all of them.

If you’re wondering, “why is my debit card declined when I have money in the bank?”,  we’ll get to that too. 

Reasons Why Your Debit Card Declined

Let’s go into the reasons why your debit card can get declined, and how to fix that.

1. Insufficient Funds

The most common cause of a declined debit card is insufficient funds in your bank account. This can happen when you’re not tracking money going in or out of your account.  

However, if you have overdraft protection, you can still continue with the transaction. Overdraft protection is where you can still complete your transactions, even though you have lower funds on your account. Be aware that your bank probably has overdraft fees.

There are other examples where your debit card will be declined but still charged. I have a lot of experience with that in the US, where I would always try to pay bills or check out with my debit card. Many stores wouldn’t accept it. They would still charge my debit card?

The pending amount will disappear from your card as soon as the transaction is processed. It’s like they’re reserving the money for the transaction. When they register the transaction is not going through, they cancel it. It can influence the amount of money available in your checking account.

How To Fix It?

Having insufficient funds on your account one can easily be avoided by tracking your money. Know what is going in and going out. Mobile banking can show you your debit card account balance in a few seconds. 

Most banks will have a mobile app that you can download. Check it when shopping to know what the available balance on your bank account is. You can transfer money within seconds without transaction fees when you do it on the mobile app.

2. Incorrect PIN Entry

With your debit card comes a personal identification number (PIN). It needs to be entered on every single transaction that you make to identify that you’re the owner of this account. 

Do you know your debit card PIN by heart? If you have sufficient funds on your account, a wrong PIN number may be why your debit card gets declined. 

How To Fix It?

Memorize your PIN and know which PIN is for which debit card. That way you will avoid entering the wrong one. 

NEVER ever write the PIN down on your card or keep it close to the card – for example in your wallet or bag. It would be very easy if someone gets access to your account after they’ve stolen your wallet or bag. 

In case you forgot your PIN, calling the customer service line of your bank would be enough to reset it. 

3. Multiple Incorrect PIN Entries

It’s very annoying when you know your PIN number, but you’re not entirely sure what their order was. Or whether it was a 6 or a 9 at the end. 

These errors can happen. But only enter your pin when you know the code for sure. Before you try repeatedly, know that your debit card will probably end up blocked after you enter the wrong pin multiple times. This notifies the bank that someone who doesn’t know the PIN is trying to access the account, so the block is purely for security reasons as fraud protection. 

How To Fix It?

Again, memorizing your PIN is very important. If you use it regularly, you will remember it, and you won’t forget it after a couple of weeks not using it. Still, make sure to pay close attention when putting in your PIN.

In case you are locked out of your account because of too many wrong entries, calling the bank would be enough to reset it. 

4. Reaching Your Daily Withdrawal Limit

Most financial institutions have a daily withdrawal limit or daily spending limit on your account. This is to help protect your funds. For example, if someone would get your card, they can only purchase so much with it within one day. That gives you the time to call the bank to get the card blocked before all the funds are gone. 

Your daily withdrawal limit is often a combination of money you can withdraw from the ATM and purchases you can do in stores. 

How To Fix It?

Most of the time this daily withdrawal limit would not be a problem. When you plan to make a lot of big purchases in a day, make sure you know what the daily withdrawal limit is. 

If you know you will probably exceed your daily withdrawal limit, you can call your bank and let them know. They will probably extend the daily limit for a short period of time. 

If you’re at the checkout now and you want to know whether or not you are over your daily withdrawal limit, call your bank and ask them directly. They can settle this for you. 

5. Card Is Expired

Debit cards have a certain expiration date. If you try to complete a transaction with an expired card, it will be declined. You can’t make any purchases with it or withdraw money from an ATM. 

While it can be something in the back of your mind, checking if your card is expired is one of the first things you should do when your debit card is declined. 

How To Fix It?

Most banks will send you a new debit card well before your old one is expired. When you simply forget to use the new card, make sure to regularly check the expiry date. 

In case your bank doesn’t send you a new debit card automatically, make sure to keep track of when your card expires. Ask for your replacement debit card well in advance – you can still use the same account with the new card. 

When you are not using your old card, make sure to destroy it. I always cut up my old card in dozens of tiny pieces, making use no one can use the personal information on the card. 

It’s not like they will be able to access your funds, but there may be other personal information on the card you don’t want others to know. 

6. Entered Information Doesn’t Match Personal Details

When you’re shopping online, it can be the case that you’re entered information doesn’t match your personal details – like the name or address of the card. 

This can be the result of some security questions that you need to answer. When you make a typo and entered some information incorrectly, you can’t make the purchase. 

How To Fix It?

Before you’re submitting your information on a purchase, double-check the personal information you have entered. It may be that you’re simply making a typo. 

If your personal information has changed, make sure that you head over to your bank account and update it. If that doesn’t work, you can call your institution for assistance. 

7. Suspicious Transaction

Most banks have the right to decline your transactions when they are noticing something suspicious. This can include spending more than normal. 

While this is a very clever system to keep your funds safe, it can also work against you and cause delays at times. 

When you experience this, a call to your bank would be enough to clear it up. 

How To Fix It?

When you are planning to make a big purchase, notify your bank in advance. They can preauthorize the transaction. 

If you’re experiencing issues now, call your bank now and ask if they can approve the transaction. 

If you’re experiencing issues abroad, many banks have a chat function so you don’t have to make a very expensive international call. 

8. International Purchase

When you’re making any unusual transactions, your debit card can get declined. This can include an international transaction. 

With debit cards being offered via Mastercard or Visa, you can use your debit card in the entire world. That is a great way to make secure purchases and ATM withdrawals overseas. 

However, this can also mean someone can access your card and use it internationally. To prevent this, banks can block international purchases to prevent fraud. 

When I was traveling in Central America in late 2019, my partner couldn’t withdraw any money from the ATMs. In the banking app, you have to activate your card on a different continent for a set amount of days. When you don’t do that, you can’t use your card. 

This is a very clever system, which can also work against you at times. 

How To Fix It?

Inform your bank when you’re making a purchase or trip overseas so that they won’t flag your transactions. Many banks offer this in their app, where you can select certain dates that you are visiting a different continent. 

When you’re traveling abroad, make sure you know what ATM networks accept your debit card. That will prevent your card from being declined. 

9. Technical Issues

There are a LOT of things that can go wrong when you want to pay with your card, which could be on your side or the side of the bank. There could be a technical issue when they’re trying to process the payment with your debit card, even when all else is okay. 

This is something incidental that could go wrong. Something like:

  • Slow internet connection
  • Power failure
  • Too many transactions processed, which can cause an overload

How To Fix It?

It’s hard to avoid these kinds of situations where having your debit card declined is not your fault. 

There are a couple of sure things you can do: try again later, try at another counter or terminal, or wait until the systems are back up.

10. Card Deactivated By Joint Account Holder

When you have a joint account with a spouse, family member, or roommate, they can have it deactivated without any permission from your side.  

When your card gets deactivated by a joint account holder, you cannot make any further purchases with this card. 

This can come in handy when someone sees fraudulent activities on the card and wants to block it. 

How To Fix It?

You can notify the bank that you want both account holders to comply before any major changes are made, including the deactivation of debit cards. 

Call your bank and see what they can do for you. 

11. Activate A New Debit Card

Have you recently received a new debit card or a replacement card? Most banks require you to activate it before use. This can be something like using the debit card to withdraw money at the ATM. 

When there are certain instructions to activate your new debit card, your bank will notify you so you can follow them exactly. 

How To Fix It?

When you get instructions from your bank with regards to your new debit card, make sure you follow them. 

If this is not working for you, you can call your bank and ask them for further help. They will be able to assist you. 

12. Card Type Not Accepted

Not all ATMs or stores accept all types of cards. I learned this the hard way when traveling South America, where I couldn’t get money out of any machine that didn’t say ‘MasterCard’. 

Double-check whether they accept VISA, MasterCard, or American Express. 

Plus: if your card has both a chip and a magnetic stripe, make sure you’re using the right payment method they’re asking for.

How To Fix It?

Make sure to check how your card should be used (chip or magnetic stripe) and whether they are accepting your type of card (MasterCard, Visa, and more). 

What To Do If Your Debit Card Is Declined?

First things first: keep on breathing. It sucks to get your debit card is declined, but panicking will only make it worse. There are many possible reasons why your debit card is declined. 

Check the validation date of your card, whether you have entered the correct information, and how much funds you have in your bank account. 

When this is okay, you can contact your bank. They make it very easy for you, as there is a phone number on the back of your debit card. 

They will check your account and see what’s going on. I’ve consulted with my bank many times and they were always able to resolve the issue within minutes. 

If you want to be 100% sure that you can always pay, you can get a prepaid debit card or take credit cards with you when you go shopping. As an alternative, you can withdraw cash and take that with you when you go shopping.

All In All – Reasons Why My Debit Card Declined

There are a lot of reasons why your debit card may decline, most of which can be resolved immediately. 

Calling the bank will be the best thing to do in most situations. They will help you to make that purchase or to withdraw the money. 

When you’re out shopping, be sure to bring a credit card to the rescue when you’re in line and your debit card keeps on declining. That will reduce the stress at any given moment!

It sucks when your debit card declines. Embrace the suck and go looking for solutions. Chances are that it’s resolved within minutes!

Did you ever have your debit card declined? Let me know below in the comments!