Was a shopper's credit card declined? Here's how you can recover that potential lost sale
Man messaging on cellphone

Does your online store tick all the boxes of user-friendliness? If yes, then you have a higher chance of pushing customers past your checkout page. But, despite the effort you put in improving the buying experience, it can easily be ruined by a payment error. That dreaded message that appears after a customer enters their credit card information on the payment page, and which, more often than not, results in shopping cart abandonment.

When a shopper's card is rejected, you may feel that it's best to let the cardholder solve the issue themselves. However, the customer may never return to complete the transaction if you tell them to contact the card issuing bank to approve the transaction.

Fortunately, most shoppers will tolerate two or three failed attempts at checkout – after that, they just drop their order thinking that your site is at fault. The most effective course of action is one that recovers the situation on the spot; one that gives the shopper a tiny little nudge to complete their purchase.

The most common reasons a customer's credit card is declined

  • They may have entered an incorrect CVV – the three digit number on the back of the card

  • They may have entered the wrong credit card details

  • Suspicious purchasing activity

  • An expired credit card was used

  • The customer has reached their credit limit

  • The card may be exposed to online fraud

  • An error on the website


How you can recover otherwise-lost money

To prevent a sale from falling through, online merchants can focus on including extra details in the error message.  Most payment gateways display the basic 'card declined by processor' notification along with a suggestion to re-enter their card information. But, online merchants can take this a step further and optimise the error message to include links to alternative payment methods.  

This can be as easy as recommending customers try another online payment solution such as a digital wallet offered by the payment gateway. This method allows consumers to pay using card details already stored on your eCommerce site. If the customer is already signed up for this service, they will be able to use an alternative card to the declined one and check out faster.

The next fallback payment method you can give your customers is loyalty programmes/digital currencies. Many stores nowadays offer point-based reward programmes to loyal customers. These points can be converted to the cash value of the goods purchased. Reward programmes are increasing in popularity and by capitalising on this trend, online merchants can encourage brand loyalty in addition to giving customers a checkout option that compensates for rejected card payments.

Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is a great way to collect payments from people who don’t have credit cards. In fact, for online merchants, an EFT payment system should be a necessity rather than an add-on.  This payment method connects customers to their bank account. After entering their account details on a secure online banking screen, your customer will receive an instant notification that the transfer has been approved and their order is ready to be shipped to them.  

Alternative payment methods don’t only help your customers; they also help your online business. The main advantage of offering different payment solutions is that it prevents the complete invalidation of a point of sale. If you have a backup option in place, visitors can easily switch from their primary payment option and you can continue to process orders.