credit card account updater

Explaining Credit Card Account Updaters: A Complete Guide

As technology continues to reshape how we conduct transactions, businesses and consumers increasingly depend on electronic payments, with credit cards at the forefront. However, the dynamic nature of credit card information challenges merchants in maintaining up-to-date customer card data.

Due to these challenges, everyone starts imagining a world where recurring payments are processed effortlessly, with no interruptions or hassles due to outdated credit card information. A world where merchants can focus on growing their businesses and customers enjoy seamless transactions. Thanks to credit card account updaters, this ideal scenario is now a reality. In this complete guide, we’ll uncover the secrets behind credit card account updaters, digging into their features, benefits, and inner workings.

Explaining Credit Card Account Updater

What is a Credit Card Account Updater?

A credit card account updater is a service provided by credit card networks and payment processors that enables merchants to automatically update their customers’ credit card information. This service is particularly crucial for businesses that rely on recurring payments, such as subscription-based businesses or companies offering installment plans. By keeping credit card information up-to-date, account updaters help merchants reduce payment declines, streamline operations, and enhance the overall customer experience.

How Does a Credit Card Account Updater Work?

An account updater service functions through a systematic and organized process that allows for the seamless and efficient updating of customer card information. Here’s a more detailed look at each step involved in the process:

How Does a Credit Card Account Updater Work

Merchant requests for updating card information

When a merchant identifies the need to update a customer’s credit card information, they initiate a request with their payment processor. This could be due to an expired card, a customer’s account number change, or a closed account. The request typically includes the customer’s existing card details, such as the account number and expiration date.

The payment processor forwards the request

Upon receiving the merchant’s request, the payment processor acts as an intermediary and forwards the request to the appropriate credit card network (e.g., Visa, Mastercard, American Express). The payment processor ensures that the request is formatted correctly and contains all the information the credit card network requires.

The credit card network communicates with the bank

The credit card network receives the request from the payment processor and communicates with the issuing bank (the financial institution that issued the customer’s credit card) to retrieve the updated card information. The issuing bank verifies the request, checks its records, and provides the credit card network with the most up-to-date card details, such as a new account number or expiration date.

Updated information sent back to the processor

After obtaining the updated card information from the issuing bank, the credit card network sends this data back to the payment processor. The information is securely transmitted, ensuring the privacy and protection of the customer’s sensitive financial data.

Payment processor updates records

Finally, the payment processor receives the updated card information from the credit card network and updates the merchant’s records accordingly. This enables the merchant to process future transactions using the customer’s current and accurate card details.

Throughout this entire process, neither the customer nor the merchant is directly involved, as the account updater service handles the updates automatically. This ensures both parties a smooth, uninterrupted experience and minimizes the risk of payment declines due to outdated card information.

Benefits of Using Account Updaters

There are several benefits to using account updates, including:

Reduced Declines

Outdated card information is one of the main reasons for transaction declines. By keeping credit card information current, account updaters reduce the likelihood of declines due to expired cards, changed account numbers, or closed accounts. This ensures that businesses receive payments on time and maintain healthy cash flow.

Improved Customer Experience

Payment declines can lead to customer frustration and churn, as they may experience service disruptions or receive notifications about failed payments. By reducing the number of declines, account updaters contribute to a smoother customer experience. Customers are less likely to encounter issues related to outdated card information, which can help strengthen their relationship with the merchant.

Enhanced Security and Compliance

Account updater services reduce the need for customers to manually update their card information, which can be a potential security risk. Additionally, by automating the update process, account updaters help merchants maintain compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), which requires businesses to protect cardholder data.

Cost Savings and Operational Efficiency

Manually updating customer card information can be time-consuming and labor-intensive for businesses. Account updater services streamline this process, allowing merchants to focus on more important tasks. Fewer payment declines also mean fewer customer support inquiries and reduced costs associated with handling failed transactions, leading to operational efficiency and cost savings for businesses.

Increased Retention and Revenue

Account updater services can be crucial to customer retention by providing a seamless payment experience and reducing service disruptions. Loyal customers are more likely to continue using a merchant’s services and make additional purchases, ultimately leading to increased revenue for the business.

Famous Brands Offering Built-in Card Account Updater Services

Major credit card networks recognize the importance of keeping customer card information up-to-date for merchants, especially those relying on recurring payments. As a result, they offer automatic account updater services to help businesses maintain accurate customer card data and minimize payment declines. Here’s an overview of the account updater services provided by some of the major credit card networks:

Visa Account Updater

Visa Account Updater (VAU) is a service offered by Visa that enables merchants to receive updated card information for Visa cardholders. This service supports both recurring and non-recurring transactions and is available in multiple countries, making it an ideal solution for businesses with a global customer base.

Mastercard Automatic Billing Updater

 Mastercard’s Automatic Billing Updater (ABU) is a similar service that helps merchants keep their customers’ Mastercard information current. This service is available in select countries and supports both recurring and non-recurring transactions. By using Mastercard ABU, businesses can minimize payment disruptions and maintain seamless billing cycles.

American Express Cardrefresher

American Express offers the Cardrefresher service, which enables merchants to receive updated card information for American Express cardholders. This service is designed for businesses that rely on recurring payments, such as subscription-based companies or those offering installment plans. Cardrefresher supports transactions in multiple countries, ensuring merchants can cater to a wide range of customers.

Payment Gateways Providing Account Updater Services

Some payment gateway providers offer account updater services as part of their payment processing solutions. These providers handle the integration and maintenance of the account updater service, making it easier for businesses to keep customer card information up-to-date. Here are some popular payment gateway providers that offer account updater services:


Stripe is a widely-used payment gateway that offers an account updater service as part of its platform. Stripe automatically updates card information for Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards, ensuring merchants have the latest customer card data for recurring payments and subscriptions.


Authorize.Net, another popular payment gateway, provides its Automatic Account Updater service to merchants. This service updates card information for major credit card networks, including Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, helping businesses reduce declines and maintain seamless transactions.


Braintree, a PayPal service, offers an account updater feature that updates credit card information for Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express cards. This service helps businesses using Braintree’s payment gateway to keep customer card data current and minimize disruptions to recurring payments.


Adyen, a global payment gateway provider, offers an Account Updater service that supports multiple credit card networks. Adyen’s service helps merchants maintain up-to-date customer card information, reducing payment declines and ensuring smooth recurring payments and subscription transactions.


Spreedly is a cloud-based payment platform that includes an account updater service for businesses handling recurring payments. Spreedly’s service updates card information for Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards, making it easier for merchants to maintain accurate customer card data.

Integrating Account Updaters with Your Business

Integrating account updaters with your business involves a series of steps to ensure a seamless and efficient experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you incorporate account updater services into your existing payment infrastructure:

Contact your payment processor or bank

The first step in integrating account updater services is to get in touch with your payment processor or acquiring bank. Many payment processors have partnerships with credit card networks and can facilitate the integration of account updater services for your business. Your acquiring bank can also guide the best action and recommend suitable account updater services.

Choose the right account updater service

Depending on the credit card networks your business works with, you may need to choose between different account updater services, such as Visa Account Updater (VAU), Mastercard Automatic Billing Updater (ABU), or American Express Cardrefresher. Consider your customer base and the types of cards they use when selecting an account updater service.

Review your payment infrastructure

Assess your current payment infrastructure to determine if any modifications or upgrades are required to accommodate the account updater service. This may include updating your payment gateway, point-of-sale (POS) system, or customer relationship management (CRM) software. Make sure these systems are compatible with the chosen account updater service.

Set up and configure the account updater service

Work with your payment processor or acquiring bank to set up and configure the account updater service. This may involve providing necessary information, such as your merchant ID and payment gateway credentials, as well as configuring settings related to the frequency of card updates, types of transactions to be updated, and data security protocols.

Test the integration

Before fully implementing the account updater service, it’s crucial to conduct thorough testing to ensure the integration works as intended. Perform test transactions using cards with different networks, and verify that the updated card information is accurately reflected in your system.

Monitor and maintain the service

Once the account updater service is integrated and operational, continuously monitor its performance and maintain the service to ensure optimal results. Regularly review transaction data to identify trends or issues, and work with your payment processor or acquiring bank to address any concerns or make necessary adjustments.

Final Words

Credit card account updater services play a vital role in the modern electronic payment landscape. As businesses increasingly rely on recurring payments and subscriptions, keeping customer card information current becomes more critical. Major credit card networks, such as Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, offer automatic account updater services to help merchants address this challenge.

By integrating account updater services into their payment infrastructure, businesses can enjoy numerous benefits, including reduced payment declines, improved customer experience, enhanced security and compliance, increased operational efficiency, and higher customer retention rates. This contributes to the growth and success of businesses and ensures a seamless and satisfying experience for customers in the ever-evolving world of electronic payments.

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