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My Credit Card Has Been Denied 3 Times This Year for This Reason — and It’s Not Maxing Out My Spending Limit

Someone hands a credit card to a cashier.

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One of the joys of being a parent is getting nominated to serve as Class Mom and being tasked with coordinating teacher gifts during the holidays and end of the school year. Now, I don’t mind serving in this role. I’m grateful for everything my kids’ teachers do for them, and since I know I’m organized, I feel as if I’m well-suited for the job.

But in the past year, I’ve run into an annoying issue with my credit card when buying teacher gifts. Thankfully, I’ve also managed to find a workaround.

When your credit card gets flagged for fraud

The average teacher’s salary in the U.S. is $57,086, according to Of course, some well-paid teachers out there earn a lot more. But for the most part, teaching isn’t exactly a lucrative profession. I realized long ago that when it comes to class gifts, teachers don’t really want personalized mugs filled with candy or tote bags stuffed with body lotion. They want cash.

At times, I’ve contemplated sticking actual bills in an envelope and handing it over. But I feel like that’s not so classy. So instead, I’ve taken to purchasing Visa gift cards for my kids’ teachers as class gifts. Those gift cards function virtually like cash, and I figure the teachers I give them to can spend them on anything from household supplies to restaurant meals.

Here’s the problem with buying gift cards, though. When you purchase a bunch at the same time, it tends to look suspicious — so much so that your credit card might get denied.

This very thing has happened to me multiple times over this past year. The last time it happened, I was in a long line at CVS trying to check out quickly to make it to school in time for pickup.

My first two gift card transactions went through without an issue. But the third one was denied. So I had to call my credit card company right there in the store and ask them to unfreeze my card. It was kind of embarrassing, and I felt bad for the people behind me I was holding up.

A better idea for the future

The routine of having my credit card denied due to buying gift cards has gotten really old for me. So what I plan to do next time is contact my credit card company before making those purchases to let it know. That way, those transactions are less likely to come up as fraudulent.

It’s the same concept as telling your credit card company when you’ll be traveling. Years back, my credit card got denied at a supermarket in Massachusetts because I’m from New Jersey and it seemed unusual for me to be buying groceries in a state a few hundred miles away. I had to call my credit card company on the spot and explain that I was traveling, and that was a hassle.

Now, I just contact my credit card company before taking a trip to let it know to expect charges in a different ZIP code. And I can do the same before making a series of gift card purchases.

If you’re going out to buy a single gift card, you can rest assured that you probably won’t have an issue. It’s really only when you’re buying multiple gift cards one after the other that a problem tends to arise. But if you’re Class Mom like me and ever have to buy a bunch of gift cards in one fell swoop, you may want to call your credit card company beforehand to save yourself the aggravation.

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Visa. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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