Billing Descriptors: What’s in a name?

For high-risk merchants, choosing the right billing descriptors can mean the difference between a satisfied customer or a chargeback fight.

The best billing descriptors for high-risk merchants ensure clarity by finding a balance between providing clear and recognizable descriptors, while adhering to any specific requirements or limitations imposed by payment processors and card networks.

While specific descriptors will vary based on the business and industry, here are some general best practices to use when developing your descriptors.

  • Brand Name: Including your brand name or a recognizable abbreviation of it in the billing descriptor can help customers easily identify the transaction. This is particularly important if your brand has established recognition or if you have a loyal customer base.


  • Descriptive Information: Consider adding additional information that accurately represents the product or service being purchased. This can provide further clarity to customers about the nature of the transaction and reduce the chances of confusion or chargeback requests due to unrecognized purchases.
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  • Consistency across platforms and payment methods: Keep your billing descriptors consistent across different payment methods or platforms. Customers can easily recognize your transactions, regardless of the payment method they use or the platform they access. Consistency in billing descriptors helps build trust and reduces the likelihood of chargebacks resulting from unrecognized transactions. 


  • Support Contact Details: Include your customer support contact information, such as a phone number or email address, in the billing descriptor. This lets customers reach out directly to your support team in case of any questions, concerns, or disputes. Providing accessible customer support channels can help resolve issues before they escalate to chargebacks.


  • Compliance with Guidelines: Ensure that your billing descriptors comply with the guidelines and limitations set by the payment processors and card networks you work with. Familiarize yourself with their specific requirements to avoid potential issues or penalties.


  • Testing and Monitoring: Regularly test and monitor the effectiveness of your billing descriptors. Analyze chargeback data to identify any recurring issues or patterns that may require adjustments or refinements to your billing descriptors.



For e-commerce merchants in the adult entertainment industry, selecting billing descriptors means striking a balance between providing clear information and maintaining discretion. Here are two additional considerations.

  • Generic Business Name: Using a generic or discreet business name as the billing descriptor can help maintain privacy and discretion for customers. This approach can minimize the risk of chargebacks resulting from customers’ concerns about privacy or stigma associated with adult entertainment.


  • Clear and Recognizable Information: While discretion is important, it’s still necessary to provide information that customers can recognize and associate with their purchase. Consider including a recognizable abbreviation or an easily identifiable descriptor that allows customers to remember and connect the transaction to your business.


Billing descriptor requirements may vary based on the regulations and guidelines of the payment processors and card networks you work with.

It’s crucial to choose an experienced payment processor to ensure compliance with regulations, especially those specific to the adult entertainment industry. They can provide specific guidance tailored to your industry to help you select the most appropriate billing descriptors to minimize chargebacks while maintaining customer privacy and satisfaction.

If you are interested in learning how our payment solutions for high-risk merchants can apply to your business, please connect with us.

About Vendo: Vendo offers comprehensive payment processing services to e-commerce merchants, including those in high-risk industries. Our innovative, AI-powered tools offer merchants simple, secure, and seamless payment solutions, along with expert customer support from integration to end-user concerns. Our expert team works 24/7 to shape your vision into reality.