Whenever you take a payment by credit card and the card isn’t present, there is some degree of risk. To safeguard against that risk — which includes chargebacks — you should ask your customer to sign a document that gives you permission to charge their card. That document is called a credit card authorisation form.
What is a credit card authorisation form?
A credit card authorisation form is a document, signed by a cardholder, that grants a merchant permission to charge their credit card for a period of time as written in that document. The form is often used to give businesses the ongoing authority to charge the cardholder on a recurring basis — whether that’s monthly, quarterly, or more sporadically but it can also be used when accepting large transactions.
Do credit card authorisation forms help prevent chargeback abuse?
Chargebacks protect consumers from unauthorised transactions. They occur when a customer disputes a charge from your business and asks the card issuer to reverse it.
However, chargebacks can cause major issues for businesses, in large part because disputed funds are held from the business until the card issuer decides on an outcome. Chargebacks are also time consuming for businesses and involve a lot of paperwork.
A credit card authorisation form is one way to protect yourself against chargebacks. If you have a signed document from the cardholder that gives you permission to charge their card for services rendered, your chances of winning your case with the card issuer are much more likely and less complicated.
If I’m a Square seller, when should I use an authorisation form?
Credit card authorisation forms are very useful for recurring transactions, whether those are recurring manually entered card-not-present transactions or recurring Card on File transactions.
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Let’s say you operate a restaurant that caters lunch for a local office every other week. If you have an authorisation form on file, you know that every time that office calls for a delivery, you can charge it to their card. You don’t have to go back and forth on which form of payment they want to use or have them authorise the charge every time.
Recurring billing isn’t the only situation where the authorisation form comes in handy. You might also use a credit card authorisation form to take a deposit for the future purchase of goods, services, incidentals, or to accept larger card-not-present transactions.
What is included in a credit card authorisation form?
A credit card authorisation form doesn’t have to be a complicated document. Typically it contains:
- The cardholder’s credit card information
- Card type
- Name on card
- Card number
- Expiration date
- The merchant’s business information
- Language authorising the merchant to charge the customer’s card on file
- Name and signature of the cardholder
A credit card authorisation form does not include space for the CVV, read why in the FAQ’s
Download our templates to get started
Square offers two free generic credit card authorisation forms for download. You do not have to process payments with Square to use these templates. You may want to consult a solicitor about the type of language that your business should include on the form.
You can use these forms as-is or edit them to include your business’s name and logo. You may want to include details about the transaction, such as the amount, what the customer is purchasing, a breakdown of future payments, and your refund policy.
Am I legally obligated to use credit card authorisation forms?
Credit card authorisation forms are a best practice for merchants. They should be used whenever you take a payment by credit card and the card isn’t present.
Why doesn’t this credit card authorisation form have a space for CVV?
It’s a violation of PCI standards to record a customer’s CVV, which is why there isn’t a space for it. If you’d like to manually input a payment, you’ll need to request the CVV directly from the seller each time you input the card. If you take advantage of Square’s Card on File feature, you don’t have to manually input the CVV.
What is Card on File?
It allows business owners — with permission from their customers — to securely store payment information with Square. This makes it easier to charge recurring customers online or in person through Virtual Terminal, Square Invoices, or our eCommerce API. If you regularly bill customers remotely (by keying in card information), you can use Card on File to charge customers in the future without any additional action.
How should I store signed forms and for how long?
PCI compliance standards require that all businesses that process credit card information “restrict physical access to cardholder data.” Be sure to keep cardholder data safe by storing completed forms in a secure room or filing cabinet, and restrict access only to employees who require it to fulfill their job duties. Because chargeback windows can vary, we suggest storing all signed authorisation forms for up to three months after you stop charging the card on file. Alternatively, if you use Square, you can store this card information through the Card on File feature (see above).