About Processor Decline Errors When Attempting A Purchase


Simple transactions often get turned away by the myriad of institutions involved in carrying, validating, approving and executing a charge. Even perfectly valid credit cards can be caught in bank issues, setup problems and fraud risk algorithms. This article helps explain your possible next steps if this has happened to you while trying to make a purchase on the Gravity Forms website.

What is a Processor Decline?

Processor Decline is one of the most common causes of a failed transaction.

In summary, this is an error code returned from your financial institution (your bank or credit card company) to our payment processor that says the bank will not authorize this charge.

In more detail—when you enter your transaction details and press “go” on our purchase page, your details are securely sent from our payment collection site to a payment gateway, who’s job it is to obtain authorization for the charge from your bank, and then execute the commands necessary to initiate the transfer of funds between financial institutions.

They start this process by sending details and asking the bank, “will you honor this charge?”. A processor decline is the bank’s way of saying “No, we will not.”

But Why Did They Reject The Charge?

The bank does not provide many details with this message. We get an error code and short description (see link below), but since they are responsible for protecting your financial privacy, we get basically nothing else.

The link below shows a list of the types of error codes your bank may send with a processor decline. These are not always visible when you make a purchase, but we can look them up with you transaction metadata. Link: list of decline codes.

But there is no problem with my card!

We know, we hear that all the time! In our experience, how banks utilize their error codes can vary widely. With all the various state and country regulations, combined with a myriad of internal processes and staff training levels, financial institutions seem far from consistent in this, and definitely not faultless in how each executes this process.

For example, we frequently see error code 2001 (Insufficient Funds) for accounts and credit cards that have no fund issues.

As another example, we hear all the time about a credit card being refused on one site, but working perfectly well on others. Sometimes, this may be related to how the bank implements their own fraud risk algorithms, and what code they send back when they are worried about a possibly fraudulent transaction. Approaches to this issue seem very inconsistent from what little we can see at our end.

Lesson being, don’t trust the error code as written. If you have any doubt, ask your bank!

What can Gravity Forms do to resolve this?

Unfortunately, we have no actions we can take to alleviate these types of declines. We cannot override, skip or otherwise manipulate the bank’s processor response (for obvious reasons), and our payment gateway will always honor them as received and immediately abort the charge attempt. The solution always lies with your bank.

How can I resolve this?

Firstly, check the card details. You probably entered it right, but worth a double check.

If possible, try a different card. This may clean up the issue straight away. Or pay with PayPal, where card details do not have to be re-entered.

Otherwise, contact your bank. Reach out to their customer support and ask then why your charge of amount $X on date Y was rejected. Hopefully you get someone with the knowledge to identify a setup issue, or able to review their flags for a perceived “unusual charge” that may stop one charge from going through.

We understand this is a frustrating situation, we feel your customer frustration around it every day. Hopefully this article helped clarify the best pathways to resolving it!