What is credit card response codes?

Millions of credit card payments are processed every day. In every transaction, every party hopes that the transaction goes like this; The customer selects the desired products or service, keys in their credit card information, click ‘pay,’ and everyone goes home happy. 

However, this is not always the case. The most important part of this whole process is getting authorization from the card issuer. For the transaction to be successful, the card issuer has to confirm that the customer’s identity is authentic and verified to the best possible extent. The card is viable and contains enough cash to complete the purchase. 

The confirmation comes in the form of a response code from the card issuer. Apart from the ‘00’-approved code, which means that the transaction is successful, there are over 100 other different codes that exist for credit card transactions and mean different things. Not all codes that are not 00 indicate that the transaction has failed. For example, code 08 is interpreted as Honour With Identification. 

However, global statistics show that at least 2 billion credit card transactions are declined every year for multiple reasons. As an online merchant, you will inevitably see many declined card instances- and the dreaded credit card declined codes. Therefore, it is vital to know how to interpret these authorization codes – misinterpretation of such codes is one of the main targets for chargebacks

For the most part, your payment processing program will automatically interpret the credit card response codes for you. But they are not always reliable, and sometimes the interpretation can be very vague. It is vital to understand the codes to avoid misunderstanding and any possible repercussions. 

Understanding what each code means can save you a sale or, in the worst-case scenario, save you money that you could lose from chargebacks. Below, we have compiled an extensive list of the common response codes that you might encounter and suggestions on how to handle the situation best. 

Read also: Choose a Credit Card in 5 Easy Steps

Credit Card Response Codes and How to Interpret Them

When processing a transaction, your payment processing software sends an electronic authorization request to the card issuer containing encrypted customer data and the transaction information. 

The card issuer then reviews this data against their internal account holder data and sends back a response in an alphanumeric code message. This code tells you whether the transaction is approved, declined, or requires further action. 

Approval codes are pretty straightforward and easy to interpret. But decline codes are a lot more complicated and represent a wide range of issues and, if not correctly interpreted, can cause a lot of confusion.

Here some common codes and their interpretation. 

00, approved

This is every merchant’s favorite. It means that the transaction has been approved, and no further action is required. 

08, Honour With Identification

This transaction response code also means that the transaction is processed successfully. If it’s an online transaction where the cardholder is not physically available, it is okay to accept the transaction. Some banks use this response code in place of 00. 

14, Card No. Error

This error is due to a misread card number. It could be due to a mistyped number or card that was not correctly read. To solve this, verify the card number one more time and try again. If it is an honest mistake, the transaction should be successful. 

01 & 02, Refer to Issuer

Both codes mean that the card issuer has blocked the transaction, and you should call to receive further guidance. You can contact the bank through the toll-free number on the back of the credit card and try to resolve the issue. Alternatively, let the customer make the call and solve the problem or request the customer to provide a different mode of payment. 

05, Do Not Honor (Decline)

This is one of the most common response codes. It simply means a problem with the cardholder’s account (Sometimes, it could be due to an unrecognized billing address). Let the customer call the card issuer to see if the problem could be resolved or provide an alternative mode of payment. 

51, Insufficient Funds

This means that the transaction was declined due to insufficient funds to complete the purchase. In many cases, the customer may not be a way that the balance in their account is not sufficient to cover the purchase. In such cases, they will provide an alternative payment mode to complete the purchase or drop the purchase altogether. 

07, 41 & 43 – Hold-Call or Pick Up Card

These three codes indicate potential fraud and need you to hold the card and prevent the transaction. 

Code 07 indicates that the card is flagged as fraudulent. Code 41 means that the card issuer has the card on file as lost or stolen, while code 43 suggests that the card is reported explicitly as stolen, and your customer might be a potential thief. However, do not raise the alarm; instead, instruct the customer to call the number at the back of the card while you still hold the card.  

54, Card Expired

This is pretty self-explanatory. It means that the card is expired and no longer viable. The customer will need to contact the bank for a new card. In the meantime, they need to pay using an alternative means or cancel the transaction. 

28 & 91, No Reply/Response

These two codes mean a communication error, and the card issuer is not responding to the transaction. Wait a few moments and attempt to charge again. If still unsuccessful, call the card issuer. 

57 & 62–Transaction Not Permitted/Restricted

These decline codes are common with cards (usually business cards) that are limited to specific charges. The code means that the card is forbidden that type of transaction. The customer will need to find an alternative mode of payment. 

Conclusion

This list is not at all exhaustive. There are over 100 credit card response codes that you could receive, and each card response code has its unique interpretation. Remember that the codes are meant to tell you something important about the cardholder and their bank details. You should never ignore them. 

Understanding each response code means saving you a sale and also acts as a strong defense against unwanted chargebacks. If you receive a response code that you are not sure how to handle, it helps to request the customer for an alternative mode of payment, or directly contact the card issuer for further instructions.  Hope now you have a clear concept about credit card response codes. If you have any valuable comment about this discussion, please let us know in the comment box.

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