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We're the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency that makes sure banks, lenders, and other financial companies treat you fairly.

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When I went to use my credit card the store told me the charge was not "authorized". What does that mean? What can I do?

If a charge is not authorized, it usually means that there is a problem with the account or that you are at, near, or over your credit limit.

Usually, when you use your credit card at a store the merchant obtains authorization from the card issuer. This authorization tells the merchant that your account is valid and that sufficient credit is available to cover the purchase.

However, sometimes the merchant is unable to connect with your card issuer because of a technological glitch. You should call the card issuer to find out the reason the charge was not authorized.

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The content on this page provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. The CFPB updates this information periodically. This information may include links or references to third-party resources or content. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.