Declined transactions are easily one of the most common topics that come up in Recurly Support, and for good reason. At first glance it’s not always easy to figure out why a transaction was declined, or what the next steps are to resolve the transaction (if any). Here are a few helpful tips for handling declined transactions:

Check the Error Information

Recurly does its best to interpret various error/decline responses from the gateways we work with, but depending on the error, there may be room for interpretation. It’s always a good idea to check the Gateway Message on a declined transaction, in addition to the Recurly Advice message. The Gateway Message comes directly from your payment gateway and, while it’s not always useful, the Gateway Message can sometimes offer more specific info about a declined transaction than what’s included in the Recurly Advice message.

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Look Up the Gateway Error Code

Most payment gateways provide an error code in addition to their error response. This can be especially helpful when you encounter a decline with a vague or confusing error response. Some gateways (Authorize.net, for example) have an online directory of error codes which will list the error response associated with that code, as well as helpful notes and advice, but this is not common across all payment gateways.

If your payment gateway does not provide a resource like this, you can still often get more information on an error code by performing a Google search for the gateway/error code. There are many forums out there where merchants have posted questions or advice about specific errors they’ve encountered in the past.

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Check the Additional Details

At the bottom of the Transaction Details page you’ll find an Additional Details section. The information in this section isn't always relevant, but if you ever come across a declined transaction where the “Reference” and “Parameters” fields in this section are both blank, this generally indicates that there was some sort of gateway communication error. In this case you’ll want to contact your payment gateway for more info, as this could be an issue on their end (such as downtime), or an issue with your gateway configuration.

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Contact Your Payment Gateway

If you’ve looked at all of the above and still aren’t sure why a transaction was declined you can always ask your payment gateway for more info. Your gateway may not always be able to help (especially when transactions are declined by the customer’s bank), but it can’t hurt to ask. If you do contact your gateway about a declined transaction, it’s helpful to mention the reference ID associated with the transaction – this can be found in the Additional Details section.

Of course, Recurly Support is always happy to look at any declined transactions for you, so don’t hesitate to send us a link to a customer’s account or declined transaction at support@recurly.com.