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How to master recurring payments for your subscription services by using VAU and ABU

If your business model revolves around recurring payments, you’re probably aware that a percentage of your card transactions will be either rejected, lost, or charged back. Until you implement certain safeguards to prevent payments from being rejected, you might find yourself scrambling for a solution to keep payment flowing so that your customers stay loyal to your products & services and subscription cancellation and potential chargeback stay at bay.

How can this be avoided? You should start researching and implementing a set of best practices for processing recurring payments – we have written on the subject before to help you avoid chargebacks.

In addition to best practices, upgrading to the latest payment processing technology is likely in your best interest. Both Visa and Mastercard offer card updater services that automatically update bank account information from their credit and debit cards.

While card updater services generally don’t have an exclusive impact on chargeback volume, they can certainly play a significant role in overall customer satisfaction – unsatisfied customers are much more likely to cancel their subscriptions.

Here’s how to make the best of Visa’s Account Updater (VAU) and Mastercard’s Automatic Billing Updater (ABU) for your subscription services.

The basics of account updater services

Visa Account Updater (VAU) and Mastercard Automatic Billing Updater (ABU) allow companies to manage recurring payments and card-on-file relationships more efficiently and also reduce authorisation declines.

These systems ensure a secure electronic exchange of account information updates between participating Visa and Mastercard card issuers and acquirers, which enables a more seamless payment process.

By working with VAU and ABU, merchants can receive updates to cardholder account information, including new account numbers and new expiration dates. Every time there is a change in the account’s number or expiration date, the file is automatically updated. This allows merchants to deliver a more positive customer experience by saving them time not having to manually update details and ensuring no interruptions in their service due to failed payments.

Main challenges of recurring transactions

Subscription models are pretty prominent in the market these days, and merchants face a lot of challenges collecting recurring payments. Here are the three main ones:
● Retaining card details for long periods of time – this means that the card could expire, be lost or stolen. All of these scenarios can lead to transactions being declined.
● Customer is dissatisfied when his service is interrupted because his payment has failed
● A high number of closed and transferred cardholder accounts – leads to additional resource spend attempting to contact the cardholder to gather the correct details.

Key benefits and opportunities from adopting VAU and ABU

On the customer’s side, VAU and ABU ensure a seamless account update process by eliminating the need for direct action and reducing the negative experiences caused by card declines – which in turn can lead customers to cancel their subscription services.
On the merchant side, VAU and ABU help strengthen customer relationships and retention, which leads to increased authorisation approvals and increases sales. Both services also extend the life of card-on-file and recurring payment arrangements, thus resulting in fewer service cancellations and payment interruptions.

VAU and ABU also reduce Card-Not-Present (CNP) transaction declines and operational costs associated with updating customer payment information, such as client contact teams. In fact, Mastercard claims that ABU can reduce average card-not-present merchant declines by up to 33%.

Your guide to mastering VAU and ABU

The most valuable use case for using VAU and ABU is for recurring payments – subscription-based services are a prime example of such transactions.
To automate the updates of customers’ card-on-file details and deliver uninterrupted service, it’s best to use a unified payments provider like Trust Payments – a partner that will help you automatically update customers’ card details by working directly with Visa’s Account Updater and Mastercard’s Automatic Billing Updater.

Here’s how the Trust Payments Account Updater service works:

Trust Payments ensures that the cardholder information is constantly updated, enabling seamless processing of certain payments that otherwise would have been rejected. To help you plan, Trust Payments’ pricing is straightforward as it relies on a per request model.


It takes time to develop a customer-focused payments approach for your subscriptions while managing merchant risk. Your expert help is at hand – by using services like VAU and ABU in combination with a trusted payments provider, your business will see fewer authorisation declines and chargebacks when processing recurring payments.

Security statement

Security is our top priority at Trust Payments and we strive to ensure that all data is kept secure at all times We keep all customer data safe with AES256 encryption, SSL Certificates, and a minimum of TLS1.2, between your website and our datacentres.

Our systems are scanned quarterly using the Qualys PCI Platform, an independent Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) and approved vendors – Omnicybersecurity (UK) & Forgenix (US) – to ensure compliance with the security requirements of the card schemes.

We follow a number of rigorous security procedures on a daily basis including, but not limited to, continuous monitoring of our perimeter, dark web monitoring, and internal checks to ensure that CIA triad is maintained at all times.

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