How to Deal with Credit Card Declines

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There’s nothing quite as annoying as having your credit card get declined when trying to buy a gift card, load REDbird, or even just spend a large sum of money. When it happens, the cashiers usually seem on edge or suspicious even though it’s a perfectly normal hiccup. It’s the worst! And it’s likely to happen a lot when manufacturing spend, especially with new cards and cards that have been sock-drawered for months.

Fortunately, there are ways to deal with those declines quickly and easily, and on occasions even avoid them altogether.

Switch Cards

The easiest “in the moment” action is to switch cards – gracefully, of course. By that I mean, don’t just pull out another card and swipe away. Make a little small talk about it like,

  • “What good is a new credit card, if I can’t use it? *fake laugh* Here try this one.”


  • “For whatever reason my bank always thinks someone stole my card even though I shop at the exact same stores all the time. I guess I’ll just have to give them a call in minute. For now, I’ll just use this other card.”

A little small talk can help make your cashier more comfortable and your transactions a little easier.

Call the Bank

Prior to making the purchase(s), call your bank and let them know. Well, don’t let them know know, just let them “know.” You get me? By making the call, the bank will be able to put a note on your account so there isn’t a fraud alert. Here are a few examples, you could use:

“Hi, I have a large purchase coming up and I want to make sure it doesn’t get declined. Could you please put a note on my account?”


“I plan on making a decently large purchase between $500-$1,000 in the next day or two at store A, B, or C. Is there a way you could put that on my account, so I avoid having my card declined?”

Many times, the bank will ask you about how much you plan on spending and at what store. If that happens, I suggest giving them a general time frame, a list of three or four stores, and a range of dollar amounts (as shown in the second example). That way it doesn’t look as obvious that you plan on manufacturing spend.

Setup Credit Fraud Alerts

All the major banks offer mobile and email fraud alerts, which is one of the fastest ways to resolve them. The only problem with this method, is setting it up. This step can be quite time-consuming, especially if you have a lot of credit cards you use regularly, but it’s worth it. For more information on setting up mobile fraud alerts for all your credit cards, check out this post by Julian on FrequentMiler.

Use Apple Pay

If you have an iPhone 6/6+, you can use Apple Pay at select retailers for your purchases. This is super convenient for a few reasons. First, you don’t need to show your ID or take out your credit card. All you need is your phone, which you probably have at all times anyway. Second, your much less likely to get a fraud alert when you use Apple Pay. In fact, I’ve never received one for a card when paying with Apple Pay, even for cards that haven’t been used in years. Finally, it seems to put the cashiers more at ease, since Apple is a trust worthy brand.

This method is not 100% guaranteed to alleviate you from card declines, but in my experience it’s worked perfectly (If you’ve had a different experience, let me know).


Credit card declines are a necessary evil that we all have to deal with in this game. If they weren’t there someone could steal your card and rack up thousands of dollars in purchases without you even knowing. That’s unlikely, but it would be much more possible if credit cards didn’t offer fraud alerts. That being said, there are many ways to avoid those alerts as shown above.

If you have any other tips to avoid credit card declines and fraud alerts, let us know in the comments.

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