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Visa Withdraws Billing Descriptor Requirement

Posted by Marc Roth | Aug 11, 2023 | 0 Comments

Visa has withdrawn its requirement for merchants to include an "end of trial" notice in a cardholder's billing statement charge descriptor for a charge following a free trial in a subscription program.  As you recall, Visa's revised rules for free trials (which were announced in April 2019, to become effective in April 2020) would require merchants to identify a charge following a free trial in a recurring charge program in a consumer's billing statement descriptor field, using a notation such as "endoftrial" or the like. This requirement resulted in significant merchant pushback given the operational challenges it posed. In response, Visa announced in April 2020 that it was postponing compliance for this requirement until April 17, 2021.
Facing even more pushback from merchants and recognizing the challenges these stakeholders faced in implementing technology updates posed by covid-19, Visa informed card issuers, processors and acquirers (Visa doesn't "speak" directly with merchants) that it was making the descriptor requirement optional for merchants.  All other rule changes for free trial offers that convert to a recurring paid program are still in effect.  If you did not receive our initial summary of these changes, please let us know and we will forward.

About the Author

Marc Roth

Marc advises clients on all things advertising, marketing, promotions and privacy, having practiced in these areas for decades, in various capacities. A former Federal Trade Commission attorney, he understands regulatory priorities and concerns, which enables him to provide informed and practical advice to clients and prepare for the possibility of challenge. Having served as Chief Marketing Counsel for a Time Warner subsidiary, he knows the type of advice his clients need to do their job – prompt and practical answers, not lengthy and indecisive memos. He knows that “no” is not an option for in-house lawyers serving their business teams and works tirelessly with clients to develop viable and effective solutions acceptable to all stakeholders.


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