June 11, 2024

Merchant Advice Code

Merchant advice codes are returned by credit card issuers and payment service providers (PSPs) to communicate the reason for declining a transaction. As well as indicating the reason for declining the transaction, the code includes information on how a merchant should proceed, i.e. whether and when the merchant should resubmit the transaction. Merchants should pay close attention to merchant advice codes, as failing to follow them (e.g. resubmitting the transaction immediately despite the code indicating “try again in 10 days”) can result in fines.

Merchant advice codes are codes returned by card issuers and PSPs that indicate why a transaction was declined and include information for the merchant on how to proceed with the transaction. For example, the merchant advice code may indicate that more information is needed, the transaction should never be retried, or the transaction should be tried again in 2 days. If a merchant fails to take into account the information supplied by the code (e.g. wait 2 days before retrying the transaction), the merchant may be fined.

Broadly speaking, codes returned by card issuers and PSPs can be divided into 3 categories:

  • Retry the transaction, but include additional information in the request, such as any missing SCA (strong customer authentication) data. These declines are often referred to as soft declines.
  • Retry the transaction at a later date, e.g. in 4 days. This code may be returned if the cardholder has reached their monthly credit limit for example.
  • Do not retry the transaction, as it will never succeed. This may be the case because the card has been reported as lost or stolen.

The following table lists the codes used by Mastercard. Other card schemes or PSPs may use different merchant advice codes. You can read more about Merchant Advice Codes in our blog article "Understanding Merchant Advice Codes"

Code Message
01 Updated information needed
02 Cannot be approved now, try again later
03 Do not try again
04 Token requirements not fulfilled for this token type
21 Payment canceled
24 Retry after 1 hour
25 Retry after 24 hours
26 Retry after 2 days
27 Retry after 4 days
28 Retry after 6 days
29 Retry after 8 days
30 Retry after 10 days

Merchant Advice Codes by Mastercard