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Why was my debit card declined when I have money?

Have you ever had your debit card declined even when you have money in your account? Despite having adequate funds, debit card transactions can be declined for various reasons, including technical outages, incorrect PINs, and more. 

At Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal), we make it easy to get debit a card.
Call 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation consultation and learn about our mortgages, home equity lines of credit, auto loans, personal loans, checking and savings accounts, and other banking products. As a full-service financial institution, we look forward to helping you with all your banking needs.

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What are debit cards and how do they work?

A debit card is a type of banking card that is typically connected to a checking account held at a credit union, bank, or other financial institution. A debit card is convenient to have because it provides you with access to your money at ATMs across the U.S. and around the world. When making in-store purchases, you may be able to get cash back as part of your transaction.
The difference between a debit card and a credit card is that purchases made with a debit card will withdraw the funds from the checking account the card is connected to. All purchases made with a credit card are charged to the credit card account and a monthly bill statement is sent to the consumer.

Why your debit card was declined

You may be wondering, “Why is my debit card declined when I have money?” Here are some of the top reasons why a debit card might be declined, even when you have money in the bank:

  1. Pending transactions. Debit card transactions can vary in the time it takes for money to be deducted from your account, from hours to a couple of days. If you’ve made several transactions in a short period of time, these pending transactions could prevent additional transactions from going through.
  2. Incompatible card type. Each financial institution has business relationships with different ATM networks. These approved network logos are printed on the back of your debit card. If you’re at an ATM and your card isn’t working, make sure you’re using a compatible network by comparing your card networks with the network logos on the ATM.
  3. Your account was flagged. Credit unions and banks continually monitor accounts for fraudulent activity, such as expensive purchases, numerous purchases in a short period of time, and activity that’s located far from where you typically use your debit card. An account can be flagged by the financial institution if you make transactions that banks consider suspicious.
  4. Your debit card isn't activated. All new debit cards need to be activated before they can be used. Follow the instructions on the card label to activate your card.
  5. Your debit card is expired. All debit cards have an expiration or “valid thru” date printed on the front of the card. Your card may simply have expired. Credit unions and banks typically mail a new card several weeks before the card’s expiration date, so be sure to check your mail.
  6. You entered the wrong PIN. It’s easy to accidentally hit the wrong digit when entering your PIN. Always try the transaction a second time just to make sure you entered your PIN correctly.
  7. Technical issues and outages. Some outages are planned to change over to a different banking or software system or perform system maintenance. Other issues and outages could be weather-related or due to unexpected causes. 
  8. Too many transactions. Making too many transactions, particularly in a short period of time, is a “red flag” to credit unions and banks. While you may simply be doing a lot of shopping, your account could be temporarily frozen. 
  9. You've exceeded your daily spending limit. Most credit unions and banks have an ATM cash withdrawal limit per day and a daily spending limit. In the event a customer’s debit card is lost or stolen, a spending limit prevents a thief from emptying an account. If you intend to make numerous transactions in one day, consider calling your financial institution get your account’s daily spending limit increased. 
  10. Your debit card is damaged. The magnetic strip on a debit card can get scratched, causing the card not to work. Keep your card in a place where it won’t get damaged. 
  11. You've traveled and you didn't notify your credit union or bank. Using a debit card outside of your typical use range (based on your home address) is a red flag for fraud. Let your credit union or bank know if you are traveling out of state or out of the country so they can note this in your account.

What to do if your debit card is declined

Whether you’re attempting to use your debit card locally, while on vacation, or abroad and are not able to complete transactions, there are steps you can take to fix a declined debit card.
The first thing to do is check your account balance online or through your bank’s mobile app. If you do not have mobile access to your account, call your financial institution and speak to a customer service representative to make them aware of the issue. A representative can verify your balance and tell you why your transaction was declined.

How to prevent your debit card from being declined

Your debit card is your connection to your checking account and ATMs, so it’s important to keep your account in good standing. Here are two actions you can take to prevent your debit card transactions from being declined.
Consider using a credit card. Credit cards are convenient and safe options for purchases everywhere you shop. Using a credit card that provides rewards points is an opportunity to earn cash back and other benefits.
Monitor your account balances. Before you make large purchases with a debit card, check your account balance to ensure the funds are available. Monitoring your account balance on a weekly basis can help you keep track of spending, so you don’t overdraw your account or get denied a purchase.

Use a prepaid debit card

You can buy a prepaid debit card online or in person at a retail store. Prepaid debit cards that feature a major network brand such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover, can be used at any location that accepts that network brand. Other types of cards may have limitations on where or how they can be used, such as only at ATMs or at specific kinds of stores.

Why savvy consumers choose CU SoCal

For over 60 years CU SoCal has been providing financial services, including mortgages, Home Equity Loans, HELOCs, car loans, personal loans, credit cards, and other banking products, to those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County.
Please give us a call today at 866.287.6225 today to schedule a no-obligation loan consultation with a CU SoCal Member Services specialist.

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Credit Union of Southern California (CU SoCal) is a leading financial institution empowering those who live, work, worship, or attend school in Orange County, Los Angeles County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County to reach their goals and build strong financial futures. CU SoCal provides access to convenient money management services and offers competitive rates and flexible terms on auto loans, mortgages, and VISA credit cards—turning wishing and waiting into achieving and doing.


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