How to Fix “SASSA Card Not Working”

My SASSA card is my lifeline. It’s how I receive my crucial social grants, the only source of income for my family and me.

So, you can imagine the panic when I went to the store and that card wouldn’t swipe.

“Declined,” the machine chirped, and my heart sank.

I’ve been through this before – the wrong PIN, a technical error at the shop, or even an expired card once.

But this time, everything seemed fine.

Over the next few frustrating hours, I tried different ATMs, and stores, and even called the SASSA helpline, all to no avail.

Now, I have to guide others through these same troubleshooting steps, hoping they find a solution faster than I did.

Option 1: Unblocking via SASSA Helpline (Toll-Free)

Step 1: Make the call

Dial the SASSA helpline number 0800 60 10 11. This is a toll-free number, so you won’t be charged for the call.

Step 2: Follow the voice prompts

You might hear an automated voice message guiding you through different options. Listen carefully and press the number that corresponds to your reason for calling.

Tip: In most cases, pressing 1 will connect you to a SASSA agent directly.

Step 3: Explain the situation

Once you’re connected to an agent, politely explain that your SASSA card is blocked and you’d like to unblock it.

Step 4: Provide your details

The agent will ask you for some information to verify your identity. This might include your ID number, your name, and the reference number on your SASSA card.

Step 5: Understand the reason (optional)

The agent might explain why your card is blocked. This information can be helpful for avoiding future blockages.

Step 6: Follow the agent’s instructions

Depending on the reason for the block, the agent might be able to unblock your card directly over the phone.

They might also guide you on further steps, such as visiting a SASSA office if needed.

Option 2: Unblocking at a SASSA Office

1. Locate your nearest SASSA office:

You can find the address and operating hours online at or by calling the SASSA helpline at 0800 60 10 11 (toll-free number).

2. Visit the office during operating hours:

Operating hours might vary depending on the location.

It’s recommended to visit during off-peak hours, like mornings or afternoons, to avoid longer queues.

3. Take a ticket and wait your turn:

Upon arrival, look for the ticketing system. Choose the appropriate service (usually “Blocked Card” or similar) and take a ticket.

Sit patiently and wait for your ticket number to be called on the screen or announced by a staff member.

4. Explain the situation to the SASSA representative:

Once your turn comes, politely explain to the representative that your SASSA card is declined, and you’d like to have it unblocked.

If you have any information about the reason for the decline, like receiving an SMS, share that information as well.

It can help speed up the process.

5. Provide your documents for verification:

The representative will ask you to show your original South African ID book and your SASSA card.

They might also need to verify your phone number.

6. Understand the reason for the decline (optional):

The representative might be able to explain why your card is blocked. This information can be helpful for preventing future blockages.

7. Follow the representative’s instructions:

Depending on the reason for the decline, the representative may:

  • Unblock your card immediately: This is often the case for situations like exceeding the daily withdrawal limit or forgetting your PIN.
  • Provide further instructions: If the situation is more complex, they might advise you to wait for a specific duration for the block to be lifted or guide you on additional steps.
  • In rare cases, request additional documents: If needed, they will clearly explain what documents are needed and how to obtain them.

Things to Do if Your SASSA Card Cannot Be Unblocked

If your SASSA card cannot be unblocked, consider these steps:

1. Request a new card

Visit your nearest SASSA office and request a replacement card.

The staff will assess the situation and determine if issuing a new card is possible based on the reason for the block.

Be prepared to provide any necessary documents they may request, such as your ID book and proof of address.

There might be a waiting period and a small fee associated with obtaining a new card.

2. Change your grant payment method

If a new card isn’t an option, you can request to receive your SASSA grant through an alternative method like:

Changing the payment method usually requires visiting a SASSA office and filling out the necessary forms.

3. Report Lost or Stolen Card

If your card is lost or stolen, report it immediately to prevent unauthorized use.

SASSA will then take the necessary steps to secure your account and guide you on getting a replacement.

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