My debit card has suddenly stopped working at POS

(POS = point of sale)

It’s the same one I’ve been using for months. Worked fine yesterday. Suddenly I can’t use it at the grocery store or the corner store; BUT it works fine in (two different) ATMs. That sux, because it costs you five bucks to withdraw cash from an ATM anymore.

Anyway, I called the issuer (it’s a pre-paid card) and spoke to a woman in Eastern Europe somewhere who assured me that there is no problem with the card. I had her send me out a new one, but that’s gonna take a week,

Meanwhile, the card apparently still works for ordering food online & buying from ebay. I don’t understand how it could work in ATMs but not in POS machines?

Have you taken it to a different store? If you haven’t try it at another place. If it’s only a problem at one store (especially if it’s just on one of their machines), it could be a problem with the merchant. It could also be a problem with the mag strip or chip. You can ask them to key it in, that would tell you whether or not it’s a physical problem with the card as opposed to something happening after it leaves the machine. Also, you said debit, often times if a debit card declines, it’ll work when you use it as credit (no PIN). Still something you’d have to figure out, but it’s always worth asking the cashier.

If it doesn’t work at multiple [different] businesses, especially if they’re different types of businesses (gas station, grocery store, Best Buy etc), then there’s something up with your account. For one reason or another it’s locked out.

Since they sent you a new card but didn’t suggest anything wrong with your account, it sounds like they think there’s an issue with the physical card. Again, bad mag stripe or chip. One thing that you can do if you have to call again, is to ask them if they can see it hitting/declining on their end. If the request never even made it to them, it’s likely not them. If it did, they (most likely) declined it for one reason or another.

Do you know what the machine said when it wouldn’t work? Was it simply ‘declined’ or was there any other kind of message to go with it (card type not supported, cannot read, incorrect PIN, network error etc).

One other thing, if you do ask the cashier to try something else (key it in, plastic bag trick, credit instead of debit…), try to limit it to just one other method, at least if they have a line. It’s a PITA, when a customer ties up a line for 5 minutes while they do all kinds of voodoo with their card.

ETA, I see you did use it at two stores, but they’re probably in the same category. Issuers do have the ability to block categories of merchants or even set daily/weekly/monthly limits on categories, but you usually only see that with business cards. So, you may want to try it at another place ie gas station (to keep all things equal, try buying something inside so it gets used in a terminal, not at the pump).

Not every POS lets me see the message returned when declined; but at one of the stores I can, the message was “No such number registered” of all things.

Near as I can tell it must be something with the mag strip.

The woman I spoke with at customer service had a pretty good command of English; but I could tell that my issue was not on her script & she was clearly not prepared to respond. (i.e., not a tech-type at all.)

Edit: Grocery store and two different liquor stores. Worked just the previous day at two out of three. Their equipment has not changed.

Your issuer subscribes to some networks for clearing POS transactions, for example: Star, NYCE, Pulse, Plus, Jeanie, MoneyMaker, Co-Op, Presto, Shazam, Accel, Exchange, and others. By law in the United State, a POS debit card issuer must subscribe to at least 2 independent networks.

Your grocery store has a contract with a “processor” to clear POS transactions. The processor or grocery store may not deal with all of the networks. In order to clear a POS transaction, both the grocery store and the card issuer must have access to at least one network in common.

If your card issuer, your grocery store, or the grocery store’s processor recently changed one or more networks that they have access to, and they no longer have a common network, the grocery store will not be able to accept your card. The ATM may use a different processor or clear through other networks.

I am willing to bet the mag-strip is gimped up somehow. A new card will fix that. Son-of-a-wrek had a broken card he used for several weeks until it cracked into the strip. No worky no more.

If they swiped it and it said that (a message I’ve never seen), I’m guessing there’s a problem with the strip. You said you’ve been using it for a few years, it might just be worn out. If you can, next time you’re at a store and it doesn’t work either ask them to do the plastic bag trick* or say ‘the strip isn’t working, you might have to key it in’ and see if either of those work. If that’s all it is, the new card should work.

*the ‘plastic bag trick’, if you don’t know, is when you put a plastic bag over the card and swipe it like that, so the mag reader reads it through the plastic. From what I understand it makes any problems with the card harder for the machine to pick up. It works more often than you’d think.

ETA, like this. Many cashiers will know what you’re talking about.

Are we talking about a ziplock-type bag? Clear plastic, right?

No. As long as the store accepts Visa, any card with a Visa logo should work, regardless of what happens with the card behind the scenes (IOW, doesn’t matter if it’s debit, credit, gift card etc. Visa is Visa).

Check my ETA in the post above yours for a picture. Just one of the plastic bags they use to put the groceries in. Color makes no difference, it’s about making any physical issues with the card harder for the machine to read.

No, just one of those thin-plastic shopping bags; thinner than a ziplock. The reader is electromagnetic, not optical, so it doesn’t have to be clear.

Okay, thanks everybody. I am pretty massively relieved that it’s probably the strip. It’s just gonna be a pain for a short time. I guess I should bite the bullet & do one large cash withdrawl to last until new card comes.

My restaurant recently had to update our drivers by July 31 or "possibly lose the ability to process CCs’. It was all very ominous and has something to do with chip readers and security issues.

I spent years in retail before I began my IT career (and my IT career started at a retail computer store) so I have quite a bit of experience working registers. And I’ll tell you this works. Not 100% of the time, but most of the time.

I had just started using a debit card a few years back and took the family on vacation over a long weekend. Card stopped working at the POS about two days and 3 states away. Worked at the ATMs though. Finally got hold of the bank after the holiday to find they had network issues that disabled the POS capability but not the ATM network. When their “A” team returned, it was cleared right up.

Going to 2 different liquor stores, two days in a row?
Have you considered that you might be having a drinking problem? Think about it.

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