Billing descriptors are what customers see on their bank statements. They identify which merchant they’ve purchased from along with the amount charged.

Billing, or merchant, descriptors are what clients go by to remember what they’ve bought and from where. Sometimes, businesses use descriptors that are not recognizable. Confusing or misleading descriptors can cause customers to file disputes. This leads to chargebacks that could’ve been avoided with a proper merchant descriptor.

What Does a Billing Descriptor Look Like?

The challenge with descriptors is merchants can only use a certain number of characters. This can be anywhere from 20 to 25 characters, as well as a phone number or other identification number.

Businesses may use their registered or DBA name. The best practice for a recognizable descriptor is to use what your customers will recognize.

The Types of Billing Descriptors

Descriptors change with payment status and sometimes with unique transactions.

  • Soft Descriptors show up while payments are processing or pending. They may not include the final charge. A charge from a restaurant will send a soft descriptor that doesn’t include the tip amount that was included.
  • Hard Descriptors are permanent and replace soft descriptors after payments are finalized. The final total will appear and may change descriptions based on what was purchased.
  • Dynamic Descriptors are advanced descriptors that are specific to each transaction. Customization allows businesses to decide what details of a transaction appear. This may not be an available option for all businesses.
  • Static Descriptors don’t change based on transactions or other changes.

How to Create Billing Descriptors that Prevent Chargebacks

Use What Customers See

The name you use for your merchant ID may be different from your DBA. Additionally, you may be using one merchant ID name for multiple businesses.

If your merchant ID must be on your billing descriptor, make sure that it’s included on your website. This could be in your domain name or combined with your DBA. Customers need to recognize it from their purchase when they later see the descriptor on their statements.

As an eCommerce merchant, you can simply use your URL as your descriptor. This makes your descriptor simple and clear to clients.

Add Contact Information

A phone number after your descriptor name gives customers quick access to your customer service. This way, they can call the number if they’re confused about a transaction.

Clients who see descriptors that they don’t recognize are more likely to contact their bank before the merchant. This can leave the merchant in the dark while a dispute is filed against them. Your best bet is to put your contact information where they will see the transaction.

Test Transactions

Billing descriptors, whether soft or hard, will show differently across card brands. Make sure to test transactions with all possible card brands that will go through your payment processing. There may be differences in display, image, and other details that can prevent your descriptor from being recognizable.

See Chargebacks Before they Hit

While you’re maximizing your billing descriptor, further protect yourself from incoming chargebacks. Revitpay’s merchants enjoy chargeback alerts – the notifications that give you a heads up when a dispute is coming your way. Contact us today to learn how you can reduce your chargeback rate.