Money can be exchanged for goods and services (but not for Netflix)
August 19, 2018 10:21 AM   Subscribe

I've recently moved, and am trying to set up a Netflix account for myself. When I try to do this, I get an error message: "There appears to be a problem with the payment method you are trying to use." But my credit card is working fine everywhere else. I tried my partner's card (same issuer, different number) and got the same error message. I called Netflix, and the CSR said "the problem is not with your card." So the problem is with Netflix... but they either can't or won't fix it?

The CSR did not come out and say this, of course, and did not explain what the problem was, but the only options they can offer me, apparently, are paying via PayPal (I do not want to do this) or purchasing a Netflix gift card and paying with that (I also do not want to do this). The CSR suggested that I could try switching my payment method over after opening the account with either PayPal or gift card, but the issue, as far as I can tell, is that Netflix simply refuses to process certain cards, or has some sort of server-side problem involving the processing of certain cards. So I assume I'd be stuck using PayPal or a gift card permanently.

Has anyone else encountered this issue? Were you ultimately able to swap payment methods over? I've found complaints about this in various internet fora going back to 2010, but none that I've found ever got any sort of resolution out of Netflix. Everyone just gave up and bought the gift card or used PayPal. This... seems problematic?
posted by halation to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Has the card address been updated? If Netflix is pinging the card when you input it (as they should) and the address you enter doesn't match what the bank has on file, it'll get rejected. (The Netflix CSR should have realized this, but their customer service is not great.) This happened to me intermittently after a recent move. The card worked fine in person and on some websites, but not others. Took a couple weeks to realize what was happening and get sorted.
posted by basalganglia at 10:52 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

When I read "I've recently moved" my thoughts went to the same place as basalganglia
posted by Glomar response at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2018

Response by poster: Couple of details I neglected to add:

- Netflix has not asked me at any point in the sign-up process to enter an address or zip or postal code.
- The card is newly-issued (since the move), was mailed to me at my current address, and has never been tied to any other address.
- I'm in Canada, and the card is from a Canadian bank, and I'm trying to sign up for specifically-Canadian Netflix. I do have a US credit card, but I don't want to get hit with international/exchange fees, and anyway Netflix won't take that card, either, because it knows I'm in Canada and Canada as a country just entirely rejects Discover so I can't even enter it.

The truly weird thing about this is that I'm not even trying to get something out of them for free. I just want to give them money! I see all kinds of complaints about your debt structure and subscription base, Netflix! I'm trying to help! Take my money! Even though you apparently just cancelled Michelle Wolf, which sucks, I'm still trying to give you money!
posted by halation at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2018

It’s obviously the billing address.
Go to and change the billing zip code.
posted by w0mbat at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2018

Does the card use one of the three most common card associations (i.e., Visa, MasterCard, American Express)? This can be an issue. Also, sometimes your bank will be the one that's blocking the transaction. Sometimes you get a phone call or a text asking if you want to allow the transaction, but sometimes not. You might try calling the issuing bank (number on the back of the card) to see if a transaction by Netflix was blocked. If so, you should be able to instruct them to unblock it.
posted by slkinsey at 11:41 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Have you tried signing up using some different IP address? If Netflix had some kind of issue with a previous resident at your location they may have blocked that address (that would be dumb of them, but who knows).
posted by dilaudid at 11:48 AM on August 19, 2018

Best answer: Sometimes a website will throw up an error message, but it's not really the right error message. Have you tried paying with this card, but using a different browser? Do you get the same error message?
posted by QuakerMel at 11:49 AM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

How does the Netflix customer-service person know that "the problem is not with your card" if they can't process payment with your card?

I'm also in Canada, so this may be a recent Canada-specific change. I've had a few problems in the past couple of months when booking airline tickets: the website said there's a problem processing the transaction, to check my card number was entered correctly, and if no luck, try calling the credit card company. I called the credit card company and the customer service rep could see the attempted (failed) transaction but thought the problem was with the airline's data-sending. Five minutes later I got a call from my credit card's fraud-prevention department asking if it was me who had just tried to book plane tickets to Europe for $xxx. I told them yes, they did some magic, I entered it again on the airline, and it went through. The second time, same thing, I called credit card customer service, they couldn't see anything on their end but a mysteriously failed transaction, but I asked them to connect me to the fraud-prevention section (which they did eventually) and it was quickly sorted out. Basically my point is that it seems like the customer-service people at the credit card company can't necessarily see whether their fraud-prevention algorithm has just prevented a transaction from going through.

I know you said you called customer service at Netflix, but you could try calling your credit card company -- the transaction could be being blocked from their end (and ask to speak to fraud-prevention!).
posted by heatherlogan at 11:58 AM on August 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

Are you saying there’s no billing address on your Netflix account? If that’s the case, that’s your problem. Put in a billing address that matches the card and try again. If the addresses don’t match then the card won’t go through.
posted by cgg at 1:58 PM on August 19, 2018

For those suggesting the zip code, Netflix's site says that a matching zip code is only necessary in the United States.
posted by pinochiette at 2:09 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nthing that it's not a billing address thing--I have a Netflix account outside the US and I just went in and checked and I don't have an address listed anywhere. And w0mbat's link above takes me to a page to change my billing info, but it just info about my card, no zip code or other address info.
posted by tiger tiger at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Sorry, just wanted to add a little further clarification:

- I'm not able to complete the sign-up process. I have not previously had a Netflix account in my name, and due to this card issue, I'm not able to make one. I'm not given the option to enter a billing address at any point in the sign-up process, presumably because I'm not in the US. I get a screen where I select my service tier, then a screen where I enter an email address and password, and then a final screen to enter my card number / expiry date / security code. When I enter the number, I get the error. I have tried different browsers, clearing my cache, incognito mode, etc. -- still the same error. I don't see how it can be a billing address issue. The card in question is a Big-Three card and its billing address is all correct with the issuer.

- The CSR didn't explain what he meant by "the problem is not with your card" but did say that this was a fairly common occurrence and that the only workaround was PayPal or a gift card. When I said I didn't want to do those things, he didn't really have a response -- just said that he usually suggested people do one of those two things when encountering this issue.

- Thanks for the fraud-prevention suggestions; that hadn't occurred to me. I will try calling the card issuer, but at this point I'm a little suspicious that Netflix is just trying to get out of paying fees on foreign transactions and/or trying to force people into using their gift cards, which feels more than a little scammy.
posted by halation at 2:28 PM on August 19, 2018

So, I am in Canada, and have a working Netflix account. I also saw billing data in my settings and just assumed it had my address there, because every other place that takes my credit card does. Digging into it however, everyone else is correct - there is no billing address. This perplexes me greatly, as I have no idea how Netflix validates the cards are not fraudulent. And also probably explains why they appear to have problems with their credit card processors. I assume it must be bank and/or credit card type specific; my RBC Visa works just fine. I wonder if can call your credit card company and tell them that you're expecting charges from Netflix and to not reject them? There's a chance everything's automated and there's nothing they can do, but it can't hurt to ask?
posted by cgg at 2:58 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I used to be a member of a fairly small local bank. At one point, for about a month or so, my bank had a problem of some sort with the state of California and they would not process any transactions in that state. Whether you were actually there in person or the headquarters of one of the services you subscribed to was located in the state, the payment could not be completed. I have no idea why but maybe something similar is happening here?
posted by blackzinfandel at 4:26 PM on August 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

And w0mbat's link above takes me to a page to change my billing info, but it just info about my card, no zip code or other address info.

OK. For me, in the USA, that page has a Zip Code box.
posted by w0mbat at 9:24 PM on August 19, 2018

Response by poster: So I called the card issuer and after sitting on hold for several millennia was informed that nothing was wrong with the card, that there hadn't been a fraud alert issued, and they also had no idea what was causing the problem. Another call to Netflix also failed to turn up an answer. But on a whim my partner tried signing up via Safari and this time it... worked. With no problem. Why both Firefox and Chrome failed on multiple devices, I could not say. So: success!
posted by halation at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2018

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