Revenue Optimization

How Effective Is Account Updater?

Spreedly's Account Updater offers an average of 150x return on spend. Here, we breakdown what returns you can expect by business type:

Written by
Aaron Nolen
Publication Date
April 14, 2023
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What is Account Updater?

A cornerstone of Spreedly’s Advanced Vault is its ability to seamlessly update stored cards, ensuring they remain evergreen to transact with.  This falls under a range of features commonly referred to as Account Updater or “card lifecycle management.” 

Effectively, Spreedly automatically updates the stored payment methods in your vault in partnership with card brands. If the card has changed, we receive back new credit card details and update the card in your vault. Changes to card information typically result from cards expiring, accounts closing, or lost and stolen cards getting replaced. This keeps payments operating smoothly for your customers and your business, protecting against disruptions in any card-on-file environment. While we regularly test all stored cards for updates, you only pay a fee for those cards that are updated, or, on occasion, confirm the card has changed, but indicate you need to contact the card holder. 

How many cards can I expect to be updated if I utilize the Account Updater service?

The number of impacted cards in your vault depends on what type of business you have, and whether it's a first time run or ongoing maintenance of your vault. A subscription based delivery platform will have more cards in their vault than an e-commerce store that sells clothing. The initial run of credit cards in your vault will always be the most resource intensive but it will drop significantly on the subsequent run.

What kind of return can I expect to receive?

While this depends on your business, your customers, their preferred payment methods, the benefits can be immense. Effective card-lifecycle management protects and stabilizes recurring revenue and increases the customer experience.  On average Spreedly's Account Updater offers an average of 150x return on spend.

To help break things down, let’s review two good models for account updater:recurring subscription based business and e-commerce with repeat customers.

Account Updater For Subscription-based Businesses

These businesses tend to have the "cleanest" vaults. That's because you're typically charging a credit card regularly (e.g. every month), so you know the status of the card - and if a transaction is declined, quite regularly. As an example, imagine you are a streaming service provider. Without an effective updater service, when a card expires and that monthly transaction fails, the best outcome is the customer stays a customer and takes the time to manually re-enter their card information, the alternative is a churned account. Proper card lifecycle management prevents that decision from ever having to be made in the first place, making your recurring revenue that much stickier.

Account Updater For E-commerce

In this model you store the customer's credit card to make any future repeat or additional purchase easier, thus removing a friction point and increasing conversion rates. This can vary a lot by business and consumer behavior: as a consumer you may use Amazon’s 1-click purchase several times a week, or only log in to your favorite high-end retailer only during semi-annual sales but in both cases you and those merchants are looking for a seamless checkout. . Whether a card has been actively used for recent purchases, or has been inert for an extended period of time, Spreedly submits cards for updates so whenever that card is used to transact. We increase the rate of a successful capture. 

Account Updater ROI Metrics

We expect any business storing payment methods for future transactions to benefit greatly from using account updater. Repeat e-commerce is most likely to see slightly higher run rates due to the timing of our vault updates vs. the timing of the subscription renewal runs by our customers. For our repeat e-commerce clients, many cards are added during the month and are not used again. In the subscription model, some percentage of the cards added may fail a renewal test and get updated before they get a chance to get passed to account updater for an update. Below we approximate the number of updates you can expect from an initial run of our account updater and then subsequent updates to your cards on file. 

Countries that don’t have full coverage

Certain countries may not have full coverage for card-updates. For these countries, we see initial run percentages as low as 3% and 4% and ongoing monthly runs at 0.5% to 1% of their total vaults. Based on the fees for Account Updater, the economics are still very positive:  You're only charged for cards that are updated or indicate you need to contact the cardholder or after 2 contact card holder updates.

How to Measure Account Updater's Return on Investment

When assessing the return on investment (ROI) for Spreedly's Account Updater, it's important to consider three key factors: 

  • Increased customer lifetime value
  • Reduced costs
  • Improved customer experience

When we  dynamically update the credit card information in your vault it can have significant impacts on your business depending on your operating model. The following sections delve into each of these three ROI considerations, providing an overview of how to enhance your financial performance and customer satisfaction.

Increase Customer Lifetime Value

Spreedly’s lifecycle management impacts the number of "saved" transactions. Each business is different, but your rough formula should be:

(Number of updated cards) x (Average ticket size per card per charge/subscription) 

From that, you have to apply your internal formula based on what you know about your service and its stickiness today.  When cards fail, what percentage of your customers abandon your shopping cart?  Do they let their subscription expire? What percentage re-enter their credit card to finalize that transaction? 

If 75% of customers are manually reentering their card data upon failure, then you would take the above amount and multiply it by 0.25 to get the total amount of revenue you can truly retain.

Reduced Costs

The second area to think about is reduced support costs. What does it look like for you when a card fails? This is especially pertinent to subscription and recurring businesses, but can also apply to e-commerce apps too. At one end of the scale, you have one or more full time employees in a customer service role whose job it is to chase down existing, or soon to expire, credit cards on file.At the other end of the scale, you can track tickets in your support application to see how many your team handles each month around a failing payment method and updating it. For example, if your average support ticket cost on a failed payment method is determined internally to be $30, and an updated card via Account Updater is a fraction of that price, then each successfully updated credit card saves you $30 in a support ticket chasing down that customer or subscriber.
Improved customer experience

You want to ensure repeat buyers have a smooth experience and asking them to enter payment details due to outdated information can hurt your conversion.  Updating their payment details behind the scene, greatly reduces the friction associated with adding a new credit card.

Automatically receiving new payment details eliminates the time and resource-intensive process of reaching out to your customers to manually update their payment details. It also allows you to focus the same resources on more valuable activities. 

Improved Customer Experience

You want to ensure repeat buyers have a smooth experience and asking them to enter payment details due to outdated information can hurt not only your conversion numbers, but your overall customer experience.  Updating their payment details behind the scene greatly reduces the friction associated with updating payment details.

Automatically receiving new payment details eliminates the time and resource-intensive process of reaching out to your customers to manually update their payment details. It also allows you to focus the same resources on more valuable activities.

How Advanced Vault Actively Manages Updates

Spreedly’s Advanced Vault goes beyond just processing updates as they are available from the card networks. There are occasions (like the contact cardholder response noted above) that can cost our clients without actually updating the underlying card information. To address this we have built in logic to identify and remove entries that fail to update from the cards we submit to the networks for updates. This adds a layer of intelligence to your vault that reduces needless costs to our clients. This is combined with our pass-through pricing directly to our clients for all card-updates with many of those updates being no cost-items.


For Spreedly customers, that first run of the Account Updater can update a large percentage of your cards, especially if you're an e-commerce application with a long-term vault in place. Yet once you get past the initial run, you can expect to settle into an ongoing rate of 3 - 6% of your monthly vault. Even if your rate is much lower than that, it still makes sense to join because there is no fixed cost and you only pay for updated payment methods. 

Whether it's cost effective to you as a business will depend on what you believe the overall stickiness of your service is, and how much you value the cost of supporting customers when their payment methods fail. 

Account updater capabilities are just one of the many benefits of our new Advanced Vault solution. By combining the latest lifecycle management capabilities, network tokenization, and data-enrichment tools with active management, we are redefining the value your payments vault can provide.

Learn more about Spreedly's Advanced Vault and how it is optimizing the vaulting experience for our global clientele, or reach out to our Customer Success team for more information.

Download the Payments Orchestration eBook Below

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