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9 reasons your debit card may have declined

If your debit card is declining or not working for online purchases it's likely it's expired or there's another error. Here are 9 possible reasons your card may not be working.

The most common reason your debit card is declining or not working for purchases in stores and online is that it's expired. Check the expiry date on the front of the card and, if it hasn't expired but it isn't working, there are a bunch or reasons why it might be declining (but don't worry, it's easy to fix!).

Here are 9 reasons why your card might decline and what you can do to fix it.

Reason 1: You don’t have enough money in your account

This is a common cause of a debit card being declined and one that you can easily avoid by topping up your account balance. Unless you have a linked overdraft facility, most banks will not allow you to make a purchase or withdrawal that exceeds your available balance.

How to fix this: Log into your account via Internet banking or using the mobile banking app to check you've got enough money in there to make your purchase. You might have paid a bill or large expense recently without remembering to top up your account - it's an easy mistake.

How to avoid it:

Download your bank's mobile app so you can easily keep an eye on your balance. You can check this before making larger purchases to ensure that you have enough funds to cover them.

Reason 2: You’ve made an international purchase

Many accounts now offer Visa or Mastercard debit cards, which allow you to use them when travelling overseas. This is a convenient and secure way to make your overseas purchases and ATM withdrawals. Sometimes, if your bank thinks your card might have been stolen or if you make a purchase from a suspicious overseas location, it might block your card.

How to fix this: Contact your bank and, if it has blocked your card, they'll be able to unblock it after verifying your identity.

How to avoid it:

When you're overseas, try to use ATMs from reputable banks and preferably ones that are attached to a physical branch. You should also inform the bank before making your trip so that they will not flag your purchases as unusual activity. This should usually help in making sure that your money is always available to you.

Finder survey: Have Australians in different states ever experienced fraud on their debit card or credit card?

No - I have never experienced card fraud58.4%
Yes - on my credit card25.79%
Yes - on my debit card11.95%
Yes - on both a debit card and a credit card3.86%
Source: Finder survey by Pure Profile of 1113 Australians, December 2023

Reason 3: Your bank was suspicious of the transaction

Most banks do reserve the right to decline any transaction that they deem to be out of character with your normal spending or withdrawal habits. In most cases this can be cleared up at the register with a quick call to the bank, but it still could cause you some embarrassment.

Banks such as ANZ have security features in place, such as ANZ Falcon. Sometimes, they can be a little too safe and block authentic transactions.

How to avoid it:

If you have plans on making a large purchase, notify your bank beforehand to get pre-authorisation.

Reason 4: You’ve reached your withdrawal limit

To help protect your funds, most financial institutions will have daily withdrawal limits on your accounts. This will often be a combination of ATM and EFTPOS withdrawals, and can stop you from getting the cash you need if you've already hit your limit.

How to avoid it:

Know what the daily withdrawal limits are for your accounts, and if you know that you will need to exceed them, inform the bank ahead of time. In most cases they will extend the daily limit for you if given notification. You can also check these online.

Reason 5: It's expired

Debit cards don't last forever. If yours has expired, it will not be accepted at ATMs, EFTPOS terminals or online. This is one of the main reasons why debit cards decline.

How to avoid it:

Check the date and know when the debit card is due to expire. If possible, ask for your replacement card well in advance of that date. When you get your new card, make sure that you destroy the old card, as it does contain personal information. If your debit card has already expired, it's a great opportunity to compare debit cards on the market.

Reason 6: Your joint holder deactivated your card

If you have opened a joint bank account with your spouse, partner, or other family member they could be allowed to deactivate your debit card without permission from you. This means your card will be unusable for making purchases or withdrawing cash.

Or, they could have simply made a large purchase and drained the account without either one of you remembering to top it back up.

How to avoid it:

With a joint account you can opt to make it necessary for both account holders to sign for any major changes to it, including adding or deactivating any debit cards.

Reason 7: You entered the wrong PIN

The personal identification number (PIN) you chose must be entered correctly in order for some transactions to be allowed. If you enter that number incorrectly, the transaction will automatically be declined. Sometimes if you enter it incorrectly more than once your card may be blocked until you contact the bank.

How to avoid it:

Memorise your PIN and try not to confuse the cards if you have more than one account with a linked debit card. It is never suggested that you write the PIN on the card or keep it in your wallet as this will make it easier for a thief to access your account if your wallet or purse is stolen.

Reason 8: You entered the wrong card details

A common reason why your card hasn't worked for an online purchase is you've accidentally entered in the wrong card number, expiry date or CVV number. All it takes is one number to be wrong, which is an easy error to make.

How to avoid it:

After you've entered in your card details online at the checkout, triple check you've entered them correctly before clicking proceed. Some sites might not let you make the purchase if you've entered the card details wrong more than once, as a safety measure.

Another option to avoid this is to use a digital wallet like Apple Pay to make payments online. You don't need to enter your card details each time, as these are securely stored within the app.

Reason 9: It's not you, it's the website

If your card isn't working online but it's working in stores and at ATMs, it could be the website itself with the problem instead of your card.

How to avoid it:

You should only shop online from reputable websites. If your card isn't working online, you could try contact the site via live chat, phone or email to see if they're experiencing issues on their side. If they're not, then you know it's likely to be your card in which case you should contact your bank.

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Written by

Shirley Liu

Shirley Liu is Finder's global program manager. She was previously the publisher for banking and investments and has also written comparisons for energy, money transfers, Uber Eats and many other topics. Shirley has a Master of Commerce and a Bachelor of Media, Journalism and Communications from the University of New South Wales. She is passionate about helping people find the best deal for their needs. See full profile

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8 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    JanMarch 19, 2023

    I have had a new Visa Debit Card, notified Morrisons for my weekly delivery online but Mastercard will not accept it. Why? I’ve rung my bank and emailed Morrisons loads of times but still not solved! It’s driving me mad and now I don’t have an online delivery from anyone. I almost 80 and clearly a computer dinosaur! Does anyone care?

      AlisonMarch 20, 2023Finder

      Hi Jan,
      Sorry to hear you’re having trouble with your new debit card. The best thing you can do to resolve this is speak with your bank directly. It’s frustrating I know, but we suggest you try to get someone on the phone who can look into this for you and help you solve it. If you have a local bank branch nearby, you could also go in branch for assistance.
      Perhaps the new debit card wasn’t activated correctly. Or perhaps you need to update your regular payment details with Morrisons if your card number has changed. If you’ve only emailed Morrisons, we suggest you try to speak with someone on the phone who can look into this on their end.
      Hope you’re able to get an answer soon!

    Default Gravatar
    JennyApril 28, 2022

    I entered in 2 credit cards and then removed them from paypal. Now I want to add them back onto paypal and I cannot do so. What do I do?

      AlisonMay 12, 2022Finder

      Hi Jenny,

      According to PayPal, here are some possible reasons why you failed to add your card:

      -If your card has been added to another PayPal account, you can’t add it to another account. You must remove the card or use another card before trying again.
      -Your card might not be compatible with the PayPal system.
      -The billing address you provided did not match the one shown on your card statement. Check your debit or credit card statement to confirm that the addresses match.
      -If your card doesn’t have a card verification code (usually a 3-digit code on the back of your card), you can’t use that card on your PayPal account.
      -You have 24 cards linked to your PayPal account. You can only have 24 linked cards on your account at once. You should remove the cards that you don’t use with PayPal anymore.

      It is also advisable to contact PayPal directly so they can check your account for specific details.


    Default Gravatar
    DominickApril 9, 2022

    I got a debit card im a teenager so its my first card and it works at the stores and that but dosent work online i havent tried my card at a atm so that might be why but never works online even i put the right details in everytime but says theres something wrong with t i was on a website trying to buy something to see if it was just the one site i was using and it said it was not able to recognise the card or something

      AlisonApril 18, 2022Finder

      Hi Dominick,

      I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble using your debit card online. If you’re under 14, a lot of banks would not grant you a Visa Debit Card that works online. Instead, you might have been given a similar type of card that allows you to make purchases in shops and use ATMs, but not for online transactions.

      We suggest you get in touch with your bank directly about this issue as they’ll be able to look at your account and tell you the cause straight away.


    Default Gravatar
    DavidDecember 30, 2016

    i got a neww debit card use it at the atm it worked but now i cant use it and my money goes to my card not through a bank i cant use it at register or on line i got my checkon it what can i do

      DeeDecember 30, 2016Finder

      Hi David,

      Thanks for your question.

      We have listed several possible reasons why you are no longer able to use your debit card at a register or online. But to be sure, you can directly call your bank to confirm. They are also able to assist you in resolving this issue.


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