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My partner is now in the US and offered to bring me a new phone. Due to COVID restrictions she can't buy it in store, I have to order it in the online store so she can pickup later. My card is being rejected saying "payment authorization failed", my guess is because I'm not able to select billing address in Argentina to match the address of my card (only a handful of countries are available in the selection list). Is there any way around this restriction? All my cards, debit or credit are of course issued in Arg.

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  • Most address-based verification systems are quite crude, and the ZIP/Postal code matching may be enough. In many countries address verification is not even possible, try selecting France for instance. Different cards may have different checks. Do you have 3D Secure enabled on your card(s)? Also, have you tried using Paypal? – jcaron Mar 10 at 12:12
  • I did try with PayPal, the order went through but then they canceled it because "unable to secure payment". I'll try with other countries, that's a great suggestion! I have no idea what is a 3D Secure card, I googled it and never seen that here. Thank you for your input!! – rMaero Mar 10 at 12:25
  • So I tried every single country in the Apple website and none passed, they either say to enter a valid ZIP/Post code or give me the same error. Anything else I can try? – rMaero Mar 10 at 12:41
  • 3D Secure is a way to authenticate the owner of the card. It is known as Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode, American Express SafeKey, etc. When you shop online, after entering your card details, you are sent to the website of your card issuer which makes additional checks, usually either a password, or a code sent via SMS or e-mail, or validation through an app. Some merchants will only allow payments which they can verify through 3D Secure. When you tried Paypal, who cancelled it? Apple or Paypal? Do you have a Paypal account? What funding source do you have on the Paypal account? – jcaron Mar 10 at 12:47
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    Note sometimes the merchant simply does not want to take the risk with particular orders, often overseas credit purchase or shipping/billing addresses not matching are situations where fraud prevention measures might be triggered. In that case you can do little other than find another merchant or try another card. – xngtng Mar 10 at 15:54
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TLDR: Call your bank, they're likely the source of the decline.

As an online merchant, I have specific experience with investigating declines, mostly when users complain that they cannot pay me for the (digital) good they want to buy. They have always been from outside the U.S., but not always developing countries - one was from the U.K. It would help if you could get the decline code from Apple. The one that I always ran into was 2046. From my payment processor, when I squeezed them for answers:

This is a generic decline that states, "The customer's bank is unwilling to accept the transaction. For credit/debit card transactions, the customer will need to contact their bank for more details regarding this generic decline." While a bit vague, it is important to note that this decline response is coming directly from the customer’s card-issuing bank and not due to an error with your (payment processor) account. Unfortunately, we have little insight as to why a transaction was declined outside of these decline codes.

The most common reasons for declines are: Incorrect credit card number or expiration date, Insufficient funds, The bank declined based on location, The bank's fraud rules blocked the transaction

Since banks typically do not share specific decline information with anyone but their customers, I recommend you have the customer reach out to the Tier II Technical Support team at their bank, as the frontline agents may not have access to the necessary tools for further insight.

Since Apple phones have high value-density and are highly sought-after in developing countries, it could be that the banks are blocking all Apple transactions if they are not first approved. (Particularly in Argentina, based on the things I've read about iPhones-in-the-socks smugglers vs. the Tierra del Fuego authorized Blackberry factory. But that was a long time ago... have they loosened the draconian import laws since then?)

I have never asked my customers to go through the trouble of working their their bank; instead I just give them their order for free so they're happy. Apple probably won't do that for you. So, I don't know how much trouble your bank will give you for letting you make the payment.

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  • Thank you for all this information! Turns out Apple is not taking any payments from my country at the moment, but she was allowed to walk in a store and buy it in person! Customs in Argentina never get any easier, we have a limit to how many US dollars we can buy monthly and the little people who can actually travel smuggle as much as possible to resell, sometimes with up to 50% markup on the price! Officially when you travel you are allowed to bring a new phone and a new laptop without any import fees, other than that and you pay 50% of the cost of the product in fees – rMaero Mar 13 at 18:15

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