There are a number of reasons your customer’s card is declined. Maybe they don’t have the funds available. Perhaps you keyed in the card number wrong. It’s possible that the AVS (address verification service) failed because the billing address entered is incorrect and your gateway is setup to decline such transactions. There are a host of reasons something could go wrong.

A common source of declines that merchants rarely think about is a debit card spending limit. Most banks and credit unions have daily spending limits setup for debit cards to silo off fraud from unauthorized use. This helps protect the bank and your funds in the event that a thief goes on a spending spree. Typical limits can range from $1000-$3000 per day. If you have a large ticket product or service that is within or exceeds that range, it’s quite possible that your card declines are a result of such limitations.

We have a number of clients who use our gateway that have really high tickets: waterproofing companies, HVAC companies, home improvement companies, etc. While our clients love it when customers pay with their debit card (because it’s a LOT less expensive), it can create some hoops that you have to jump through in order to get paid. Let’s say you’re an HVAC company and you just installed a new system for Mrs. Johnson and the total bill was $6000. Most people would assume that a ticket that high is being paid with a credit card, but there are a lot of people who operate exclusively in cash (paying with money they have) OR they’ve arranged their own financing through their banking institution (think HELOC or personal loan) and the money is transferred or deposited into their checking account. When you try to run Mrs. Johnson’s debit card for $6000 it’s probably going to be declined because it’s way above her daily spending limit. This can cause frustration and confusion between the merchant and their customer. Imagine the potential back and forth that happens when you tell her that her card was declined and she swears the money is in there. Both of you are right.

In situations like this, the customer simply needs to call their bank and let them know they’re making a large purchase and they need their limit temporarily suspended. A simple 5 minute phone call can save both of you time and energy.

If you’re collecting card numbers over the phone, it’s a good practice to ask them if it’s a credit or a debit card. That way, you can preemptively let them know that the transaction probably exceeds their daily spending limit and give them instructions to contact their bank if it doesn’t go through.

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