Credit Card Declines: Techniques for Higher Conversions – By Maria Sparagis

by Sara Szado on April 13, 2019

Here’s how to get started.

Perform a Declined Transactions Audit

A low order approval rate means you are losing money. Combat this by investigating why your transactions are declined. To start, simply pull a report of all declined orders from your gateway.

Sort decline reason codes then review and implement solutions by learning what each message means. For example, “Invalid Address” indicates a mismatch of billing and credit card holder information.

Instead of doing a complete address verification, did you know you could do a partial address verification by matching the zip code only? Customers may misspell their street and cause a decline. Also, digital product merchants don’t need full addresses.

Understand Your Existing Traffic

Learn how to convert your current customers. If your converting traffic comes from a certain country, state, or territory; determine what they use to pay and add missing payment types to your checkout process.

If you have a European merchant account, United States (US) debit cards likely decline, so it is important to find a solution to accommodate those cards. The same goes for US merchants and European Union (EU) debit cards. Adding alternative payment methods such as automated clearing house (ACH) in the US, Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) in Europe and crypto- currency options can easily increase your conversions.

If your customer declines with an “Insufficient Funds” message, offer another way to pay.

Tell Customers Why They Were Declined

Showing your customer the reason their purchase was declined may help them find their own solution. Instead of simply displaying: “Your Order Cannot be Processed”; try telling your customer the specific reason, such as “Insufficient Funds” or “Invalid Card Number”.

Your gateway provides these details; it’s only a matter of mapping each reason code to the proper description for your customers. While displaying the decline message, give your customers the option of contacting you by phone.

Having a customer support agent speak  directly  to  your customer increases the likelihood a sale will occur. Whatever you  do, don’t leave customers in the dark.

Ask Your Payment Processor for VAU or MAU

If you offer subscriptions, using Visa Account Updater (VAU) and MasterCard Account Updater (MAU) can help you keep your recurring orders. It’s a service that updates credit card information that has expired or changed.

If your customer changes their payment details, this service ensures it is updated seamlessly. Not all payment providers offer this, but if they do, adding this service can easily add 3-5% to your recurring approval rate and revenue.

Understanding your declines doesn’t cost anything and can easily add to your bottom line. Prior to starting new campaigns, maximize sales from your current traffic by lowering your credit card declines.

Maria Sparagis is Founder and President of, a payment solutions provider for high-risk merchants. This article appeared in issue 46 of FeedFront Magazine, which was published in April 2019. Visit here for the full edition.

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