User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

When credit cards are declined, our gateway usually provides a useful reason: insufficient funds, CVV mismatch, invalid card number, etc.

Should we show this to the user? Or should we just show a generic "Card Declined" error?

Obviously it is far more useful to show granular errors to our users! But, when we talk about user logins, we choose to show less information, as not to leak info about user activity. Does the same concept apply here (in case of someone trying to use stolen credit cards?)

share|improve this question
I think you could be specific about a few errors, like invalid card number (maybe they fat fingered) or a validation error and then a processing error that way it's not too specific but still clear enough for the customer to figure it out. – CobaltHex Feb 2 '14 at 19:14
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Show as much information as you can without compromising security. The security team/audit may get excited if you report directly "CVV mismatch" as there are only 999 alternatives.

BUT this does not mean that you have to fall back to the generic "Card Declined" error. If you are not allowed to be explicit, then categorise in a useful manner, e.g.

  • Incorrect card details provided (invalid card number, CVV)
  • Insufficient funds available
share|improve this answer
I like the idea of categorizing granular errors into useful, but not-too-specific, buckets. Thanks! – poundifdef Feb 19 '14 at 19:03

The point of providing feedback is to help the user understand the system and how to use it for their specific goal. In this case Yes you should absolutely provide the reason their card was declined as that will allow them to remedy the problem and proceed to use your system. If you don't provide feedback on how they can solve a problem why even tell them it's been declined.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.