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A Guide to Billing Descriptors: Tips & Best Practices
A Guide to Billing Descriptors: Tips & Best Practices

Insights on how billing descriptors impact chargeback management and details on how to add new descriptors to your Midigator account

Nadia Batah avatar
Written by Nadia Batah
Updated over a week ago

Billing descriptors play an important role in chargeback management. Choosing good descriptors can help reduce the risk of chargebacks and save you money.

What is a Billing Descriptor?

A billing descriptor describes a payment and helps the cardholder identify the transaction on his or her bank statement.

You likely created your billing descriptor when you set up your merchant account (or MID). If you don’t know what your billing descriptor is, your processor can help.

Billing Descriptor Variations

Your processor will have a “main descriptor” on file. However, a single billing descriptor typically has several different variations. Your descriptor may change based on factors such as:

  • The type of transaction you process (card-present, card-not-present)

  • The card brand that issued the card (Mastercard, Visa)

  • The type of card used to process the transaction (debit, credit)

It’s important to know what your main descriptor is as well as any variations. You’ll need this information to manage your prevention alerts as effectively as possible.

TIP: We suggest you process a couple of test transactions with different cards issued by different brands to see how your descriptors display.

Billing Descriptor Best Practices

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create and manage your billing descriptors.

  • Descriptors are set on a per-MID basis. We recommend that each merchant account have its own unique descriptor. This will make it easier to match an alert to the corresponding transaction in your CRM or order management system. It will also help ensure you don't receive alerts after a merchant account has been closed.

  • For most processors, the default setting for billing descriptors is the merchant’s legal business name. If your legal name is different from the “doing business as” name, update your main descriptor to reflect something customers are familiar with.

  • Make it easy for the customer to contact you. Include your phone number, email address, and/or website in the descriptor.

  • Find out if your processor offers dynamic descriptors. A dynamic descriptor will include the standard descriptor followed by transaction-specific information. For example, a descriptor would be “S&S Auto”. A dynamic descriptor would be “S&S Auto/FordTransmission”. If dynamic descriptors are used, make sure you understand how they are formatted and what the different variations would be.

  • Descriptors can be anywhere from 20-25 letters, however, the length of the descriptor will depend on the issuing bank. Some issuers will truncate the descriptor so the full message won’t be displayed. This can cause confusion. Abbreviations can be used to avoid truncated descriptors and convey a more accurate message.

Adding New Descriptors to Your Midigator Account

Billing descriptors play an important role in alert functionality. If you use chargeback prevention alerts, Midigator needs to maintain an up-to-date list of your main billing descriptor and any variations.

If you obtain a new merchant account (MID) or change your billing descriptors, please let our team know as soon as possible. You can contact Midigator via the chat feature or by emailing

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