Accept a VISA Free Trial Subscription? You May be In Trouble.

Visa Free Trial Subscriptions have changed. Visa recently updated its rules around free trials and promotions for subscription businesses. You may need to take action to keep your business compliant.

1. Visa Free Trial rules have changed. Obtain express consent

The Visa Free Trail rules have changed. You must disclose the following information and obtain express consent to entering an ongoing subscription service for recurring payments, prior to collecting customer payment information for the purposes of a free or promotional period trial:

  • Details of the goods and services provided.
  • The start and end date of the subscription.
  • The length and price of the free or promotional trial period.
  • The cost of the subscription after the trial period ends.
  • The number of reminders that will be sent prior to billing (note that a trial-ending reminder email is required at least 7 days before the end of a trial period).
  • The cancellation policy, including the steps a customer must follow to cancel a subscription. Ours is here, for example.
  • The date on which the customer can expect to be billed, for example, if it will be the same date of each month.

jim’s pro tip

Web Developer

To prevent charge disputes and ensure compliance with the card networks’ requirements, make sure your website clearly describes your subscription services, and especially your free or promotional trial offers. In particular, you will need to make sure that your customers understand when free or promotional trials expire, and how a customer may cancel prior to the commencement of the paid period.

Get more of  Jim’s Non-Annoying Pro Tips in your inbox. Learn more

2. 7 day email reminder

Once you enroll a customer for a free or promotional period trial, you will need to make sure that the receipts you issue to customers contain the following information mandated by the card networks:

  • Length of the trial period, including clear disclosure that the customer will be charged unless they take steps to cancel any subsequent transactions.
  • Transaction amount and date for the initial transaction (even if no amount is due) and for subsequent recurring transactions.
  • A link to a mechanism that enables the customer to cancel the subscription online or via SMS/text message.

3. Enhanced Receipts

Once you enroll a customer for a free or promotional period trial, you will need to make sure that the receipt you issue to customers contain the following information mandated by the card networks:

  • Length of the trial period, including clear disclosure that the customer will be charged unless they take steps to cancel any subsequent transactions.
  • Transaction amount and date for the initial transaction (even if no amount is due) and for subsequent recurring transactions.
  • A link to a mechanism that enables the customer to cancel the subscription online or via SMS/text message.

jim’s pro tip

Web Developer

It is important that your receipt contains the important information about the subscription and the free or promotional trial period. This information gives customers full visibility into their current and upcoming transaction details, which can help prevent surprises and future disputes.

Get more of  Jim’s Non-Annoying Pro Tips in your inbox. Learn more

4. Enhanced Statement Descriptors

*UPDATE* In light of COVID-19 Visa has delayed the enhanced statement descriptor requirement until April 17, 2021. When a subscription converts from the free or promotional trial period to the paid period, you are required to include text in the statement descriptor that makes it clear that the trial period has ended. While the networks have not mandated the exact wording to be used, we are recommending that you add TRIAL END or TRIAL OVER to the beginning OR end of the statement descriptor.

Note that:

  • This requirement only applies to the first paid charge (i.e. after the end of the trial period).
  • The statement descriptor field has a maximum of 22 characters.

5. Digital and SMS Cancellation for Customers

Any subscription that begins with a free or promotional trial must have a mechanism to cancel electronically or via SMS. Stripe Billing users can begin to use the customer portal, which will host a cancellation/subscription management page to help you comply with this requirement.

jim’s pro tip

Web Developer

We believe that most customers access their subscriptions electronically and expect to have options to update or cancel their requirements through the same means. It is important to provide relevant information to simplify the process of cancellation for customers.

Get more of  Jim’s Non-Annoying Pro Tips in your inbox. Learn more