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Why was my client's card declined?

Why was my client's card declined?

Payments can fail or be declined for a number of reasons. However, it’s important to know that certain failures are actually preventative measures put in place to work in your favor. These failures help minimize the possibility of fraudulent payments that could otherwise result in disputes. In this guide, we’ll cover:

Note: See Online Payments FAQs or Processing Online Payments to learn more about charging client credit cards. 

Why do cards decline?

When a charge is submitted to your client's card issuer, their automated systems determine whether or not to authorize the charge. These systems analyze various signals, such as your customer’s spending habits, account balance, and card information such as the expiration date, address information, and CVC.

There are a few main reasons why a client's card is declined:

  • The card number or expiration date is incorrect
  • The client doesn’t have enough funds available to make the payment
  • Payments declined by the card issuer
  • Generic reasons

Most declines are specifically categorized by the card issuer as generic, so it’s not always possible to know exactly why a payment was declined. If all of the card information seems correct, it’s best to have your client contact their card issuer and ask for more information. For privacy and security reasons, card issuers can only discuss the specifics of a declined payment with their cardholders. They can’t discuss this with you, SimplePractice, or our payment processing partner.

Is it an HSA or FSA card?

You can process FSA (flexible spending account) and HSA (health savings account) cards in SimplePractice. HSA and FSA cards require that your business have a special classification (called an MCC or Merchant Category Code) set so that the card companies know that your products and services are directly related to a client’s medical needs. Online Payments accounts that are set up through SimplePractice are automatically assigned an HSA/FSA eligible MCC. 

If an account is enabled to accept HSA or FSA payments, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that a card won’t be declined. Card issuers are still at liberty to authorize or decline any payment as they would with any other type of credit card.

What are the most common decline codes?

While there are many decline codes that could prevent a client’s payment from going through, some are more common than others. Below, you’ll find the most common decline codes and what they mean:

Decline code



The bank declined this transaction due to the card being expired


The bank declined this transaction due to the card number being entered incorrectly


The credit card doesn’t have enough funds available to make the payment

Transaction_not_allowed, do_not_honor, or generic_decline

The card has been declined for an unknown reason by the card issuers

If a client isn’t sure why a transaction was declined, we recommend directing them to their bank or card issuer for more information. If you’d like to confirm which decline code was issued for a transaction, please submit a help request so our team can assist you further.

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