MasterCard and Discover are modifying their rules concerning the processing of debit, prepaid and gift cards. This FAQ includes important information about the new requirements and the timelines regarding Authorize.Net's support of the requirements, so please read it thoroughly.

UPDATE: MasterCard and Discover have relaxed the requirements for e-commerce merchants. Please review the updates below.

MasterCard and Discover have identified three main areas of concern that cause transactions to decline for customers using debit, prepaid and gift cards:

  1. Customers do not always know their available balance on their card.
  2. If a customer tries to spend more than the balance available on their card, the purchase is declined, with no option to use the card's available balance along with another form of payment.
  3. If a customer wants to use a debit, prepaid or gift card, and the merchant gets an authorization, but then the transaction is not completed, the available balance on the card is temporarily reduced unless the merchant reverses the authorization.

UPDATE: E-commerce merchants are now only required to provide support for authorization reversals. Though no longer required, partial authorizations and balance responses are considered best practices, and Authorize.Net still highly recommends that e-commerce merchants provide support for all three requirements. Retail and mobile merchants must still support all three requirements.

MasterCard and Discover are requiring that merchants support the following three transaction types for debit, prepaid and gift cards:

  1. Partial Approval (or Partial Authorization) — Merchants are required to partially approve a transaction if a cardholder does not have enough balance on their debit, prepaid or gift card. In addition, the merchant must allow cardholders to pay the remaining balance owed with another form of payment. This is called a split-tender purchase transaction.

    Benefit: Prior to implementing partial approvals, a debit, prepaid or gift card with an insufficient balance would be declined. By supporting partial approvals, the merchant can turn a potential decline or negative cardholder experience into a completed sale by asking for an additional form(s) of payment to cover a purchase.


  2. Authorization Reversal — Merchants are required to reverse an authorized transaction if a cardholder decides they do not want to proceed with the transaction and the transaction has not yet settled. Authorization reversals will free up the available balance on a customer's debit, prepaid or gift card when transactions are not completed.

    Benefit: By supporting authorization reversals, the merchant restores the cardholders' available balance, which enables them to potentially make a purchase (within their debit, prepaid or gift card's balance) at your store.

    This requirement is important when processing partial authorizations, because merchants will probably run into a scenario where a card is partially authorized for an amount, but the customer decides to cancel the transaction instead of completing the sale. If the authorization reversal wasn't required, the customer's available balance would be reduced until that authorization naturally expired.

  3. Balance Response — Merchants are required to print the prepaid card balance on the customer receipt or display it on a customer-facing terminal/POS device/Web page, or both. Prepaid card balance information is made available by the prepaid issuer only for some, but not all, prepaid cards, and support of this requirement is limited to those particular cards.

    Benefit: By supporting balance responses and making the information available to the consumer, the consumer is better informed regarding their available balance on their prepaid cards, and could make additional purchases based on that balance.

    Additional Balance Response Questions

    • Will merchants be required to print the remaining prepaid account balance on both the receipt and display it on the customer-facing POS device or Web page?
      No. Merchants can choose to print the balance, or display the balance to the cardholder, or both.

    • Will the balance be displayed/printed for all debit and prepaid products?
      No. For security reasons, balances will only be returned by the issuer for prepaid cards (and even then, only for select cards) to avoid, for example, printing a customer's checking account balances. If the "available balance" is present in the record, merchants are required to print and/or display it to the customer, regardless of the dollar amount.

The compliance requirements apply to regular debit, prepaid and gift cards for the following payment card types:

  • MasterCard
  • Discover
  • Diners Club
  • JCB

Though not mandated, Authorize.Net will also support the requirements for these additional payment card types:

  • Visa
  • American Express (Partial approvals & balance responses only; AMEX does not allow authorization reversals)

MasterCard's rule changes go into effect May 1, 2010, and Discover's rule changes go into effect April 16, 2010. However, Authorize.Net, MasterCard and Discover have worked together to extend these dates for all merchants using Authorize.Net solutions. Our merchants will now have until June 30, 2011, to implement support for the requirements within their systems.

Authorize.Net will be updating our systems over the coming months to support the requirements, but will be dependent on each processor's readiness. Below is a timeline that lists the date, by processor platform, that Authorize.Net anticipates being able to support the requirements.

As you will note, Authorize.Net will be ready to support the requirements long before our extended deadline of June 30, 2011. The additional time is being made available to you so that you have sufficient time, as applicable, to work with your shopping cart or solution provider, make technical changes to your Authorize.Net integration, update your internal systems and train your staff on these changes.

Processor PlatformAuthorize.Net Anticipated Support Date
ElavonNow Supported
FDC NashvilleNow Supported
GPNNow Supported
HeartlandNow Supported
PaymentechNow Supported
WorldPayNow Supported
TSYSNow Supported
FDC OmahaTBD

Please note the timelines above are anticipated dates only and are subject to change.

UPDATE: E-commerce merchants are now only required to provide support for authorization reversals. Though no longer required, partial authorizations and balance responses are considered best practices, and Authorize.Net still highly recommends that e-commerce merchants provide support for all three requirements. Retail and mobile merchants must still support all three requirements.

MasterCard and Discover are requiring all merchants to support the requirements with the exception of merchants that exclusively process transactions via batch uploads, mail order/telephone order (MOTO), or recurring payment transactions. Your Merchant Service Provider (MSP) is ultimately responsible for determining if the requirements apply to your business, so please contact them for assistance in determining if your company is exempt.

The steps that you will need to take to support the requirements depend on how you connect to the payment gateway. For example, if you connect using a shopping cart, point-of-sale device, or other solution, you will need to contact your solution provider to confirm that they will be supporting the requirements. If you connect using a direct integration, you should contact your Web developer for assistance.

  • Updates Overview
    For an overview of the updates that need to be made, please see the API Updates document.

  • AIM Updates
    For the necessary information on what changes you will need to make if you integrate via Authorize.Net's Advanced Integration Method (AIM) please see the AIM guide.

  • SIM Updates
    If you use the Server Integration Method (SIM), please review the updated SIM guide. Please note that the Relay Response field order has changed.

    Additionally, you'll see that all SIM Relay Response and Silent Post transaction responses will now include the card type and last four digits of the credit card number, regardless of whether or not the original transaction was enabled for partial authorizations. This has been a long-awaited feature that we're happy to be able to provide now. This information will be included in the following fields:

    Field NameValueFormatNotes
    x_account_numberLast 4 digits of the card providedAlphanumeric (XXXX6835)This is a new field that is returned with all transactions.
    x_card_typeVisa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, Diners Club, EnRoute, JCBTextThis is a new field that is returned with all transactions.


  • Simple Checkout Updates
    For anyone using, Simple Checkout, simply log into the Merchant Interface, click Settings under Account in the main menu, then click Partial Authorization. From that page, check the box next to Allow Partial Payments and click Submit. Click OK to confirm and you're ready to process partial authorization transactions from your Simple Checkout buttons.

  • Virtual Point of Sale (VPOS)
    VPOS has been updated to support the new requirements, but is still dependent on processor support. See the table above for the expected support dates.

    To view an example of the merchant receipts with the new fields, please see http://www.authorize.net/support/vpos_receipts.pdf.

  • Value-Adding Services Updates
    If you are using the Customer Information Manager (CIM), you can submit partial authorization transactions using the CIM API only. The updated CIM API guides are located at http://developer.authorize.net/api/cim/.

    If you are using the Daily Velocity Filter, available with all payment gateway accounts, or are using the Advanced Fraud Detection Suite™ (AFDS) and are using the Hourly Velocity Filter, only the first transaction in a series of partial authorization transactions will be screened by the filter. All subsequent transactions in an order will not be counted toward your daily or hourly limit.

The new requirements do not affect Automated Recurring Billing (ARB) or batch upload transactions, or any transaction run through the Virtual Terminal.

If contacted prior to June 30, 2011, regarding non-compliance, please inform your acquirer that you use Authorize.Net's payment management services and Authorize.Net has an extension from MasterCard and Discover.

At this time, the requirements are mandated for U.S. merchants only.

Yes. Effective November 1, 2008, all Debit MasterCard and Maestro debit and prepaid issuers were required to process and respond appropriately to merchants that support partial approvals and real-time reversals (full and partial). In addition, prepaid Debit MasterCard and Maestro issuers must support the account balance response.

E-commerce merchants are now only required to support authorization reversals. Though not required, Authorize.Net highly recommends that e-commerce merchants also support partial authorizations and balance responses.

Yes. The following transaction types are exempt: batch uploads, mail order/telephone order (MOTO), and recurring payment transactions.

Additionally, e-commerce merchants are now only required to support authorization reversals.

Yes, the authorization reversal for e-commerce and other card-not-present transactions should be generated whenever a purchase transaction is not, or cannot, be completed, and the transaction has not yet been captured.

Note: The account balance response only needs to be supplied to the cardholder in an authorization response to a real-time authorization request.

Merchants should be aware of the impact of the requirements on split shipments. A capture submitted for a partial shipment will be matched against the original authorization and release the hold of funds in the cardholder's account. If the merchant expects to make a second shipment of goods, a new authorization should be taken against the card in the amount of the second shipment and captured when the second shipment is sent.

Yes. Merchants who are obligated to support the requirements must make the appropriate changes to support these transactions. The payment card brands will be performing frequent "Compliance Monitoring" of these rules changes and will follow through with the appropriate parties if merchants are found to be non-compliant.

The amount of fees assessed will be as per the MasterCard and Discover association "non-compliance" fines described in their operating regulations and rules. For more information, please contact your Merchant Service Provider (MSP).

As a reminder, your MSP is ultimately responsible for determining if the requirements apply to your business, so please contact them for assistance in determining if your company is exempt.