UPDATE: Brand new debit card still being declined -- BTC connection?

I’ll try to make this brief. [EDIT: but it’s not lol] I’ll include a few possibly extra details just in case they matter.

Two weeks ago, my (non-chip-having) debit card suddenly started being declined at several (4 or 5) local places which I have been going to for more than 10 years. At first, it would not work at a POS (point of sale) standard swipe machine but would still work in an ATM. I called the card issuer. (not a bank. prepaid debit card into which my paychecks are deposited automatically)

The person I spoke to said she saw no problem at all, and I had just been paid. Hooray! So I figured maybe it was just demagnetized, & ordered a new card.

The old card stopped working at ATMs too. I called again, because I now had no way to access my money, and the guy I spoke to said that there was a hold on my card because someone had tried to buy bitcoin with my number.

“That was me,” I said. “I did that.” Okay, he said, just checking. They’ll take the hold off, he said. (But the old card still didn’t work anywhere.)

[In point of fact, I didn’t actually buy bitcoin. I was trying to buy bitcoin through an online service that I have used before, & I trust. (Coinbase) In previous transactions, the service functioned as a trusted broker; you could not buy coins with a credit card, but they would refer you to reputable people from whom you could buy the BTC with cash. So this was the first time I had tried to just buy the damn things directly. The transaction was declined because they don’t accept prepaid cards.]

A week later, my brand new card arrives. I activated it last night, (during which process I see that I have just been paid again) and went down to the deli today to buy some hummus. This is the first transaction with my new card.


I call the card issuer again. No, they say, there is nothing wrong with your account. Yes, they say, there was a hold last week, but it was lifted when you called.

I would think if the verification network had suddenly stopped accepting chipless cards, there would be a lot of other people having the same problem. As I mentioned before, this particular card issuer has a contract with the IRS to put peoples’ tax refunds on these cards if they so desire. Wouldn’t make sense for the network to suddenly start refusing them.

None of my local stores have changed their equipment recently. I have used these debit cards from the same issuer for like 10 years. I have never had any problem. Now I have my wages attached to the card which does not work anywhere, yet the issuer has no idea what’s wrong. I can go down to where I bought the card and withdraw cash, but that’s defeating the point really.

EDIT: I went down to where I bought the card. The clerk said that no, no other cardholders have complained about their cards not working at POS. And yes, they still have that contract with the IRS. So it’s probably not the processing network changing their policy.

So I did a cash withdrawl. Went through fine. Except that the rule used to be, you could withdraw up to $300 a day for free. Now there’s no limit, but it cost me four bucks to take my own money out of my own account which I cannot access any other way. I am already paying a service fee so as to avoid individual transaction fees.

This is driving me nuts. What could possibly be making my card(s) not work? The hummus transaction this morning did not return an error code; it just said “declined.” The person at my card issuer said that they did not even see a record of the attempted hummus transaction. Is there any way the attempted bitcoin transaction last week could have caused this? Could my account have been somehow flagged with the payment processor? How on earth do I get hold of them anyway? (SF Bay Area)

One last possibly pertinent detail: About 6 months ago, somebody tried to buy a Facebook ad with my card data. I have no idea how they got it. A hold was put on my card. I called, and they lifted the hold. Could two holds within half a year (one correct; one a false alarm) have flagged me somehow with the processing network?

You’re using a chipless card? That’s a big red flag, IMO. We’ve been using them over here for over a decade.

My WAG is that there’s still some flag on your account from the bitcoin transaction. Bitcoin is associated with all sorts of fraud and scams and the card issuing company may have put multiple flags on the account.

I’ve had tons of anti money laundering training even though that’s not my job at my office. Using some sort of a prepaid refillable debit card to buy bitcoin would jump out to me as a big red flag.

Still relatively new in the US.

So, if it’s not the ***card issuer ***who has flagged me, but rather the payment processor – how do I fix that? I can’t go on using cash for everything. Now that $20s are like singles, it takes up too much room!

Incidentally, I doubt that money launderers do much of anything on pre-paid debit cards. They have a $5000 limit on ANY kind of transaction, and you have to have a verifiable identity, address, etc. to even use them. It’s just like a debit card on a bank account, except that there is (mostly) no bank BS. The IRS uses them to disburse tax refunds to those who wish.

Could you get a debit card? Or at least a different pre-paid debit card?

While the situation may be fixable, it sounds like it wouldn’t be worth your time and effort to fight it out with your old pre-paid debit card company.

I agree that rather than expending all of the effort to clean up that card, just move your deposits to a different one. Kinda of a pain, but apparently not as painful as trying to fix the fubar you’ve got now.