Dunning for Credit Cards

Dunning is the process of how you handle past due accounts. It involves communicating with your customers in response to failed transactions, and what action you take when the subscription can’t be renewed. Chargify gives you the ability to customize these communications every step of the way.

On statement-based sites, the credit card dunning settings are found under Config > Settings > Retries and Dunning and will resemble the screenshot below:

Dunning choice for credit cards

On Relationship Invoicing, these settings have been moved to Config > Retries & Dunning along with the other payment method types.

Credit card dunning settings on Relationship Invoicing.

For more information on how to configure dunning for ACH and other strategies, please our specific sections that deal with dunning for ACH or dunning for Direct Debit.

Selecting a Dunning Strategy

To get you started, Chargify has put together some preconfigured dunning strategies. Choose one, and you’ll be on your way.

All of the pre-set strategies include sending an email each time we retry the payment. After selecting a strategy, you will have the option to make changes such as editing the email templates, adding or removing steps, or disabling the email message on one or more steps.

Please note that if you elect to "Keep dunning turned off" then subscriptions will be canceled immediately if the renewal payment fails. Once dunning is enabled, it cannot be turned off.

Configuring your Dunning

Dunning is configured from the “Retries and Dunning” section in your settings.

Configure your dunning settings for credit card holders

Configuration is managed in separate sections:

  1. Email Settings
  2. Retry and Dunning Schedule
  3. Final Step

Email Settings

Change the email address that your dunning emails are sent from, by clicking on the From Address field. If you would like to add a BCC email address to your dunning emails, add that information here:

Retry and Dunning Schedule

If the dunning strategy schedule is changed, Chargify will recalculate what the current dunning step is for "today". Chargify doesn't store data related to what step in the dunning process the subscription resides. Dunning is defined by the current strategy and how long the subscription has been in the dunning process.

When a subscription’s period ends, the normal renewal process attempts to charge the card on file. If that attempt results in a failure (i.e. a processor “decline”), the subscription becomes “past due”. Chargify will automatically retry the failed charge according the schedule you configure in this section. After all the steps in this schedule have been completed, you can take a “final action” on the subscription and optionally send an email.

The subscription will still try to renew at the end of it’s regular billing cycle if there isn’t a dunning step defined for that day.

Note: The “From Address” configured in this section will also be used as the “From Address” on your final action email. It defaults to your merchant email address.

To add an email to a retry step, check the box for “Send Email?” to launch the email editor. Within the email editor you can customize the subject and body of the email. You can also create a custom layout to personalize the look and feel of the email.

After adding or editing a new dunning email via the email editor, you will be able to choose whether or not to be BCC’d on this email. This email has access to custom parameters as defined in the section on Customizing Dunning Emails.

Edit the step, configure the day of the dunning email
Edit the contents of the dunning email.
Editing the dunning email template
Chargify imposes a limit of dunning schedule limit of 365 days and/or 30 dunning steps.

Final Step

Select the day you would like Chargify to perform before you take a “Final Action”. Entering “1” in this box will cause the final action to be taken upon the very first failed attempt to renew, i.e. every step in the Retry and Dunning Schedule will be ignored.

Next select the Final Action to take. You can either cancel the subscription or mark the subscription unpaid.

  • When you cancel the subscription, the subscription will transition to the ‘canceled’ state and it will cease to accrue any new charges. No more attempts will be made to collect the balance due. A canceled subscription can be later Reactivated.
  • When you mark the subscription unpaid, the subscription will transition to the ‘unpaid’ state, but it will continue to accrue new charges. No more attempts will be made to collect the balance due. An unpaid subscription can be moved back to active by either applying a payment, retrying the renewal (and receiving a successful payment), or zeroing out the balance and retrying the renewal.

Finally, you may optionally specify an email to be sent upon the execution of the final action.

When you select a final action, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the differences between the unpaid and the cancled states. For more information on subscription states, please view our subscription state documentation.

Select the final step action

Testing Dunning

Throughout any part of the testing process in Chargify, we absolutely recommend giving your team enough time to thoroughly test the subscription lifecycle over many weeks. In addition to testing subscriber actions, testing the dunning process is also an important part of integrating with Chargify.

Here’s a few tips that we recommend when testing dunning and Chargify:

Using bogus payment information

  • Use the Chargify test gateway to simulate successful and failed payments
  • To use bogus payment information, enter a bogus card number or bank account number
  • After the new payment method is entered, switch the default card number to the newly entered bogus payment method.

Forcing subscriptions to past due

  • It’s important to note that you can’t force a subscription into the past due state.
  • The subscription will have to transition there by following a sequence of events.
  • Over the course of several testing days, you may also delete the payment profile on file.
  • This creates a situation where the next payment will fail

Forcing subscriptions to enter the final step

  • Set a dunning strategy strategy that is as short as possible
  • Follow the steps above to supply bogus payment information
  • Allow the dunning process to fully execute and allow the subscription to transition to unpaid or canceled.

Start Over

At any time, you may elect to start over with one of the preconfigured dunning strategies. Simply click Reset My Dunning Strategy and you’ll be prompted to select a new strategy.

Reset your dunning strategy

Keep in mind that this will overwrite all of your email templates with default text, so be sure to make a copy of that content if you want to re-use it.

Customizing your Dunning Emails

When editing your Final Action Email and Dunning Emails, you can use keywords that Chargify will replace dynamically before sending the email. Custom parameters are surrounded in double curly braces like this: {{custom_parameter}}

Parameter Description
failure_subject The reason the transaction failed. e.g. ‘Failed Credit Card Transaction’, or ‘No Credit Card On File’ depending on whether or not the client has a, Credit Card on file.
from_address The “from address” defined for your dunning emails
name The name of your customer. e.g. Bill Williams
product_price The recurring price of the subscription’s current product
product_name The name of the product. e.g. Basic Plan
balance_in_cents The amount, if any, they still owe. e.g. 0 (for $0.00) or 23100 (for $231.00) Useful for conditionally adding a reminder.
balance The amount, if any, they still owe in dollars. e.g. $0.00 or $2.31
merchant_name Your merchant name. e.g. Acme Corp.
update_url The URL that the customer can use to update their Credit Card information.
masked_card_number The customer’s Credit Card, obscured to only show the last 4 digits.,e.g. XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1
reason_for_decline The reason that a transaction was declined at the gateway.
payment_profile_exists This returns true or false depending on whether or not the client,has a Credit Card on file. It can be used to conditionally display text, based on it’s value.

Note: Regarding payment_profile_exists, you may use an if statement combined with payment_profile_exists in order to check to see if the payment profile is attached to the subscription.

{% if payment_profile_exists %}
  Lorem Ipsum
{% endif %}

Dunning emails also have access to other parameters not listed here. See Email Templates for more details.

For more information on how Dunning works, see our Dunning Introduction.