Subscription Standards


Card Brand Subscription Compliance

BlueSnap is committed to helping ensure a positive merchant and cardholder experience and keeping you apprised of new or revised Card Brand standards. Both MasterCard and Visa has standards for merchants processing subscriptions, recurring billing, and negative option billing. To remain in compliance, merchants must adhere to all applicable standards. These standards will help mitigate and reduce the risk of negative cardholder experiences and subsequent disputes. The Subscription Billing Engine ensures our merchants can comply with these standards. While we have provided the required functionality, it is important that you review the updated standards against your process flow to ensure full compliance with these card brand standards as well as any applicable federal and state laws. Any questions regarding your legal or card brand obligations should be addressed with your legal counsel.

Subscription/Recurring/Negative Option Billing:

For e-commerce merchants engaging in subscription, recurring or negative option billing transactions:

  1. Merchants must clearly disclose the basic terms of the subscription at the point of payment and capture the cardholder’s affirmative acceptance of such terms. The disclosure must include the price that will be billed, start date and end date of the subscription, details of the products and services offered and the frequency of the billing (for example, "You will be billed USD 9.95 per month until you cancel the subscription.”). The merchant should also explain how to cancel the subscription and its cancellation and refund policy.
    • For electronic commerce (e-commerce) merchants, these disclosures should be at the point of payment, which includes the order summary page. The point of payment includes the screen where cardholders enter their card credentials and any screens that show a summary of the order (such as a shopping cart) before it is submitted for authorization by the cardholder.
    • Providing a link to another page that contains this information (such as a terms and conditions page), or otherwise requiring the cardholder to expand a message box or scroll down the page to see the terms, will not satisfy this requirement.
  2. Merchants must send a confirmation by email message or by any other electronic method at the time of enrollment in a subscription/recurring billing plan that provides the terms of the subscription, including the terms and length of any trial, introductory or promotional period when applicable, reason for billing, clear instructions that the cardholder will be billed unless he/she takes action to cancel subsequent orders, about how to cancel the subscription, and a cancellation link.
  3. Merchants must send a receipt by email message or by any other electronic method after every billing that includes clear instructions for how to cancel the subscription and a cancellation link. Cardholders may choose to opt out of receiving these notices.
  4. Merchants must provide an online or electronic cancellation method (similar to unsubscribing from email messages or any other electronic method) or clear instructions on how to cancel that are easily accessible online (such as a “Manage Subscription” or “Cancel Subscription” link on the merchant’s website).
  5. For any subscription/recurring payment plan that bills a cardholder less frequently than every six months (such as, but not limited to, the cardholder is billed every six months every year, every two years), the merchant must send a notification (e.g. Important Information about Upcoming Charges to your Account) that is distinct from marketing messages at least seven days, but no more than 30 days, before the billing date that includes the terms of the subscription and instructions about how a cardholder may cancel the subscription.

Negative Option Billing

If you are using negative option billing transactions, the following also applies in addition to the above requirements:

  1. For Negative Option Billing merchants that offer a free or low-cost trial period of a digital good (such as streaming service, club membership, website access, or software license) and then automatically enroll the cardholder into a subscription plan at the end of the trial period:
    • If the merchant is offering a trial period longer than seven days, the merchant must send a reminder notification to the cardholder no less than three days, and no more than seven days, before the end of the trial period that the subscription plan will commence if the cardholder does not cancel. This notification must include the basic terms of the subscription and instructions about how to cancel. This reminder can be completed by email message or any other electronic method.
  2. For Negative Option Billing Merchants that offer a cardholder the opportunity to purchase a subscription service to automatically receive one or more physical products (such as cosmetics, health-care products, or vitamins) and then automatically enroll the cardholder into a subscription plan at the end of the trial period:
    • After the trial period has expired, the merchant must provide the following information to the cardholder and receive the cardholder’s explicit consent in relation to this information before the merchant may submit an authorization request for the initial recurring payment transaction for the full-size or regular-price product:
      • The date the subscription period begins
      • The transaction amount
      • Merchant name as it will appear on the cardholder’s statement
      • The payment date of the transaction: After the cardholder has provided consent, the merchant may not change this date
      • Instructions for terminating or cancelling the subscription
  3. Merchants that utilize a negative option billing model must also disclose the terms of the trial, including any initial charges, the length of the trial period, and the price and frequency of the subsequent subscription (for example, "You will be billed USD 2.99 today for a 30-day trial. Once the trial ends, you will be billed USD 19.99 each month thereafter until you cancel.")
  4. The statement descriptor for the first transaction at the end of the trial must identify the transaction as a trial, e.g. trial, trial period, free trial.
  5. Negative Option Billing Merchants are required to be registered by the card brands by the bank. Fees may apply and be passed through to the Merchant.


If you aren't using BlueSnap's Subscription Billing Engine

Merchants processing subscription/recurring payment transactions that do not use BlueSnap’s Subscription Billing Engine within our Payment Orchestration Platform must work with their subscription provider and legal counsel if necessary to ensure they are compliant.

Hosted Pages Compliance for Stored Credentials

In accordance with the new compliance requirements from Master Card, we made updates to our hosted pages:

If a shopping cart contains at least one subscription (excluding On Demand subscriptions) and the selected payment method is CC (including wallets), a message will be displayed under the Subscribe button that specifies all the recurring terms of the subscription/s.

  • When the Collect CC details checkbox is displayed, we show the following text under the Subscribe button:
    "By Clicking Subscribe, and leaving the above box checked, you are providing consent to securely store your card details and be charged according to the recurring payment terms below:"
  • If the checkout page does not include a subscription, the checkbox is not checked. The shopper must actively select to have their card stored.

Below this, shoppers will see the details of the subscription terms.