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How does a credit card updater service work?

Card updater services offer an alternative to trying to get in touch with customers whose credit card numbers have expired

Summary

American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Discover all offer subscription services that will help you update customers’ credit card numbers when you discover they have new credit card numbers or their cards have passed their expiration date. Here’s how they work.

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For merchants who accept credit cards for recurring charges – whether for a gym membership or a software-as-a-service – it can be frustrating to track down customers whose credit card numbers have expired.

Card updater services offer an alternative to trying to get in touch with these customers on your own. American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Discover all offer subscription services that will help you update customers’ credit card numbers when you discover they have new credit card numbers or their cards have passed their expiration date.

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

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Which credit card updater services are available?

So which services can you tap? Here are the programs offered by the major credit card networks:

Cardrefresher

American Express offers this service to allow merchants to keep customers’ Amex cards on file up to date. The service offers daily updates. Merchants can receive the updates directly or through a vendor or processor that updates their recurring billing or card-on-file data.

Discover Global Network Account Updater

With this service, merchants who want to keep cards up to date must send an inquiry containing all of their recurring and stored credit card accounts to the network. The network sends back a list of accounts with updated information, so merchants can keep their records current.

Mastercard Automatic Billing Updater

Mastercard offers this service to assist merchants in keeping card-on-file information current. Card issuers submit account changes to Mastercard’s database, and Mastercard processes merchant account inquiries against changes to the database. Merchants can access the database and update their own records.

Visa Account Updater

Merchants who have been individually qualified by Visa participate in this service, which requires a two-step authorization process. Merchants must submit an inquiry for information such as an account number, and responses are forwarded within two business days to the merchants. Visa also offers Real Time Visa Account Updater, which is expedited.

See related: How businesses can safely store card details

Can you get a customer’s new card number for recurring charges?

Merchants who subscribe to card updater services can get customers’ new card numbers for recurring charges. For this reason, consumers who want to cancel a charge need to formally cancel their subscription. Simply ignoring a merchant’s requests for updated information is not a substitute, as a merchant who subscribes to the card updater services will likely be able to get an updated number.

How can a merchant use updater services?

Merchants can subscribe to updater services through the credit card companies in the case of American Express and Discover. To subscribe to the Mastercard and Visa updater services, you must go through your acquirer, issuer or processor.

See related: What is a merchant acquirer, and how can it help your business?

Bottom line

It can take a lot of time to keep customers’ credit card information up to date, but it is important to maintaining a steady customer base, keeping cash flowing and avoiding service interruptions.

With more consumers switching to credit card payments during the pandemic, staying on top of this is more important than ever. Using card updater services can help you do this far more efficiently than phoning customers on an individual basis when their cards have expired.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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