Handling card declines



My client's credit card declined!

If you have customers with credit issues you're going to get some declines. In this article, we’ll share valuable tips on how to handle declined credit cards.


Table of contents:


What to tell a customer whose credit card has declined

  • Be understanding and calm, everyone has had a credit card decline, so try to show compassion.

  • Explain to the customer that their bank has declined their card.

  • Ask the customer to either try another card or call the number on the back of the card to ask the bank why they're declining the card.


What if the customer says "Try it again, the card is fine. I have money!"

If the card just declined a few minutes ago, the bank has already made that decision. There are many reasons for a card to decline. Many of those reasons have nothing to do with available funds, so again, the choices are simple:

  • Ask the client to try another card. Make sure they are using a credit card. Debit cards are not allowed.

  • Ask them to call the number on the back of the card to ask the bank why they're declining the card.


Best practices for credit card declines and Chargebee

  Important Note:

Chargebee recently changed their business model to Enterprise which resulted in severely spiked fees and they began rejecting CRC users. We no longer recommend Chargebee. As an alternative, we suggest Billsby as your super simple and more affordable option.

If you are still using Chargebee, as you know, ChargeBee automates the billing and helps recover funds, but there are certain things you'll need to do yourself when a new customer's credit card declines.


If you've set up your ChargeBee plans in Credit Repair Cloud, they probably look like this:

  • $XX (Some amount) for the "first work" fee: This is either collected when you add the client's credit card to their profile, or it's triggered by the first round of letters being saved.

Followed 30 days later by...

  • $XX (Some amount) for the "monthly recurring" fee: And this continues like clockwork each month until the client cancels service. Recurring monthly fees are the goal. See the ROI Calculator.


How and where to enter the client's credit card

Most people type the client's credit card number right into the client's profile where you've set the ChargeBee plan. If your client is on the phone or in your office, this is the best method. You can also set up your web lead form on your site to show your ChargeBee plans and take credit cards.


Getting Paid

If the client's "First Work Fee" payment processes, awesome!  You've just been paid handsomely for a few minutes of work. You can verify in ChargeBee or in your Gateway that the funds were collected (and you should receive an email from them as well). 30 days after the "First Payment" fee goes through, the first (of hopefully many) recurring payments will process. Congratulations!


What to do if your client's credit card declines

If the client's "First Work Fee" declines, there's no way to re-try that "First Work Fee." You'll need to re-enter the credit card after the client resolves the issue with her or his bank or ask the client for another card. Then re-enter it into the client's profile.


Why ChargeBee can't retry the same card on the "First work fee"

A "first work fee" is not yet a recurring payment. ChargeBee can only collect on "Recurring Payments." However, all you need to do is add a working credit card to the client profile in Credit Repair Cloud and bingo, it will collect past due "First Work Fee."


How ChargeBee does retry the same card on a Recurring Payment! (i.e. "Dunning")

Good news, that's a different story! ChargeBee will send a letter to your client asking them to update the credit card. They will also retry the credit card over the next week trying to recover that payment for you. This is what ChargeBee calls "dunning". However, after about a week, if the card keeps declining, ChargeBee will mark the payment as "failed" and you'll need to contact the customer to get a different card or to solve the issue with the bank and re-enter the same card into the client's profile.


We recommend that you stop all work for a client who is not paying you

Most people are good and honest, but if you're not being paid, your time can be better spent getting more paying clients.


What if I’m using Billsby?

With platforms like Billsby, they have dunning and failed payment management systems built-in. This means that when your customer’s payment fails, the transaction is entered into a ‘dunning cycle’ - where the system will attempt the payment from your client. By default, this will be 24 hours, then 48, and finally 72 hours after the failed payment. With each reattempt, the client will be notified and they will be requested to update their details.

For more information on this matter, please refer to page 38 in the downloadable Billsby guide.


Common credit card decline messages and what they mean

Type Your Customers See This Message You See This Message
Expired Card Your credit card is expired, please update your card. The payment gateway declined the transaction because the expiration date is expired or does not match.
Insufficient Funds The transaction was declined due to insufficient funds in your account. Please use a different card or contact your bank. The card has insufficient funds to cover the cost of the transaction.
Declined Your card was declined. In order to resolve the issue, you will need to contact your bank. The customer's bank has declined their card. The customer will need to contact their bank to learn the cause.
Temporary Hold Your card has a temporary hold. Please use a different card or contact your bank. The issuing bank has a temporary hold on the card. This is known as a 'Do Not Honor' response.
Fraud Stolen Card The transaction was declined. Please use a different card or contact your bank. The card has been designated as lost or stolen; contact the issuing bank.
Invalid Card / Account Number Your card number is not valid. Please update your card number. The credit card number is not valid. The customer needs to try a different number.


Other important tips

  • With platforms like Billsby, they have dunning and failed payment management systems built in. For more information on this matter, please refer to page 38 in the downloadable Billsby guide.

  • The following notes apply to ChargeBee users:

    • If you have clients on ChargeBee Plans in your Credit Repair Cloud, only enter the payments in Credit Repair Cloud. Don't enter payments directly in ChargeBee or that won't sync to Credit Repair Cloud.

    • If a "First Work Fee" payment fails or a Recurring Payment fails, put a new working card into the Client Profile.

    • Don't try to create invoices for that same missing fee, or that will create double fees.

  • When in doubt, remind yourself that you're helping customers with credit issues, and as such, some will have payment issues.

  • Remember that you're dealing in volume and these clients each take 5 minutes a month, so just stay focused on getting more clients and keeping your paying clients. Also, spend time with them on credit education, so they can learn how better to manage their credit long after your work is done. Here's a great link for that.

  • The quality clients will come from referrals. Make friends with every mortgage broker, realtor, and CPA in your area. That will bring you a great clientele. People getting ready to buy a house and just want a bump up on their score are the ideal client.
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