Card Declined Error: How to Save the Customers

Written by Jen on March 2, 2017

When designing an e-commerce website it is important to foresee potential problems that visitors will experience and solutions to these problems, however one that is overlooked is the “Card Declined” issue.

If you have processed card payments online or even if you have used a checkout on another website, then you have probably come across this before. The “Card declined” issue just means that the customer’s card details were declined somewhere during the checkout process. The payment is typically declined by the bank and there are many reasons why this happens, they won’t tell you, but some of the reasons include too many transactions in a short amount of time, temporary issues with the bank or fraud detection.

Luckily, some people do attempt a second try and in some cases their card will be accepted, however in some cases the card is still declined or people won’t bother, and this accounts for the loss of around 5% of sales. You probably think that 5% isn’t that much and you shouldn’t worry about it, but, it is still 5% and if there is a solution, why not try it!

 

So, how do we save them?

The solution is actually a lot simpler than you would think, and it is basically to suggest using a different payment method.

When the payment error screen pops up, it will usually give the user the option to try again, however by including a message within the screen that says to try use a different card or to try using a different payment method, such as PayPal, you are giving the customer an option to try again and hopefully reach a successful checkout.

Unfortunately, while this solution is simple, you cannot guarantee the second card will be accepted, especially if they have multiple cards with the same bank, or that it won’t be declined via PayPal, but by giving them the option to pay with a different card or with PayPal you are at least letting them know they can pay with a different card and decrease chances of card declined error!

 

Is there another alternative?

There is actually! Rather than suggesting the visitor use a different card or to enter using PayPal, you can offer a completely alternate payment method, such as bank transfer, invoicing or even another third party payment processor such as Google checkout.

While there may be other fees involved with other payment methods, just think about the upside and that is you are saving a valuable customer who otherwise would’ve clicked off your website, and (possibly) never return again! At least by having alternative options and suggestions you are showing your customer you are trying to help them.
It is best practice to have more than one option at checkout as well, usually a payment processor and PayPal are the standard on a lot of e-commerce websites, so if one doesn’t work / suddenly stops trading then at least you have the other options for customers to use, while you find another processor to replace the first one with.

 

So there you have it, a couple of simple solutions to try and keep customers who receive the “card declined” error. The two won’t guarantee 100% of the customer who receive the error to go through to completion, but they will help keep a number of them which is better than nothing. If you want a more advanced solution then there is a more technical set-up, however we will cover that in another blog!

If you have any other website issues then make sure to check out out other blog posts here or if you want to discuss a new project or maintenance, then feel free to contact us!