The worst time to find out your credit card isn’t working is when you’re in the middle of a transaction, particularly when you're at the checkout. Depending on the issue, you may be able to fix it right away, but you might have to use another payment method until you do. Worst-case scenario, you’ll have to save your purchase until you fix your credit card issue.
Here are some reasons your credit card may not work.
You Haven’t Activated It
New credit cards are affixed with a sticker with instructions for activating it. Typically, you only have to call the bank hotline number and enter various information on the phone. The call will only take a few moments and your credit card will be activated right away. Some credit card issuers let you activate your credit card online or via a smartphone app.
Your credit card may stop working after you reach the expiration month. In some cases, it may even cease working during that month. If you think your credit card has expired, check your mail. Your credit card issuer has probably sent a replacement credit card already.
A New Card Is on the Way
Your card may have been cancelled because an EMV-enabled replacement card is on its way. This technology prevents cards from being cloned or duplicated.
It’s Been Demagnetized or Scratched
The magnetic stripe on some credit cards may stop working after the card has been too close to a magnet or even a cell phone. When the credit card has been demagnetized, you may experience a credit card read error or, in certain cases, nothing will happen after the swipe.
Scratches or bends on the magnetic stripe may also prevent your credit card from being swiped. Your card number can still be manually entered, but you’ll have to get a new credit card to make swipe purchases.
Merchant or Payment Processor Issues
This happens with credit card transactions processed electronically. The information passes through a few different layers before the transaction is approved. Technical difficulties at any stage can cause issues with your payment processing. The merchant may be able to hold your credit card information and run the transaction once the technical issues have been resolved.
Not Enough Available Credit
Your credit card may be declined if you don’t have enough available credit for the transaction. You can't make a payment right away to free up some available credit, unless the card is linked to your checking account, so it’s best to use another payment method if you experience this problem.
As more people travel each year, credit card companies are continuing to innovate to keep our information safe. They require some notice that you're traveling and plan on using your card, especially when you travel abroad. Because of the number of fraud cases that happen overseas, many companies don't take the risk of letting charges incur in these cases. If you know you're going to be away and plan on using your credit card, make sure you call your issuer to let them know where you'll be and the dates you'll be traveling.
Even if you don't plan on using the card, it's a good idea to inform your credit card company, just in case an emergency arises and you're stuck.
Incorrect Billing Information
Online purchases require you to enter the billing information as it appears on your credit card statement. Your credit card won’t work if your billing information is incorrect, even if everything else is accurate. Verify all the credit card information you've entered matches your statement.