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Card: The importance of ‘Decline’ Response Codes


Card authorisation response codes provide insight into the reasoning behind a transactional outcome. Declined transactions produce unwanted consequences for all parties, so the card schemes have introduced rules to ensure Merchants react appropriately to a declined transaction, based on the response code provided. It's important to note, a breach of rules may incur penalties. 

Why do penalties apply?

The card schemes are continuing to encourage card Issuers to provide more meaningful reasons for a declined transaction to assist the Merchant in responding accordingly. It’s important that Merchants use the response code provided to determine whether they should or shouldn’t reattempt the transaction.

For example, if the card details presented are invalid, reattempting the transaction with the same details will have the same result with every attempt. Therefore, it does not make sense to continue to try the transaction. Whereas, if the decline response was due to insufficient funds, it's ok to reattempt the transaction after a reasonable time - ideally after contact with the cardholder. However, it doesn’t make sense to immediately and continuously reattempt until you succeed, as the funds / credit may never become available.

How it works

To make it easier for Merchants to react appropriately to a declined response code, categories have been created based on the required next steps:

  • Category one: declined response codes where reattempts with the same details are not permitted.
  • Category two: declined response codes where reattempts are allowed, but no more than 15 times over any rolling 30-day period.

Please note: if the category rules are not followed, the card schemes may impose a fine on us, and if it’s clear that the Merchant has breached the rules, we will pass the cost onto your business. The fine amount varies across schemes and the amounts are reviewed every quarter.

To access Zai's response codes, refer to the guide Common Error Messages.