How do failed payments work?

All PayWhirl accounts come with tools to help you manage failed payments (aka dunning) and automate your collection processes.

Updated over a week ago

Failed payments are inevitable in the world of eCommerce and especially prominent for recurring types of payments like subscriptions. For this reason, all PayWhirl accounts come with tools to help you manage failed payments (aka dunning).

Some of PayWhirl's built-in tools to help with failed payments:

  • Payment Reminder Emails

  • Payment Flexibility for Customers (allow customers to skip installments)

  • Failed Payment Management (dunning), Automatically Retry Failed Payments.

  • Customizable Failed Payment Email Notifications

  • Invoice Rescheduling Options


The first step is prevention! You can enable the "payment reminder" email in your account to help remind customers of their upcoming payment. PayWhirl provides a basic template for all of our emails but we recommend customizing your email templates to match your branding and voice if possible.

You can control payment reminder emails from your email settings page in PayWhirl:


If a customer's payment fails, you can send them an email with the reason code from your connected payment gateway as to why their payment failed. As with the payment reminder email, make sure to customize this email to ensure it makes sense for your business needs. 

You can also send a copy of these emails to your own email address or another person, regardless if they are sent to the customer from the email settings page in your account

Failed Payment Management

Note: By default, all failed payments will be retried 3 times, each 7 days apart. 

You can change these settings from your My Account > Advanced Settings pages in your PayWhirl account:

By default, the declined invoices will still continue to charge your customer, even if the customer cancels their subscription. This may be ideal for a membership or service that is billed in arrears. However, businesses that are shipping a physical product may want to turn this setting off. 

You can also set the number of retry's before the subscription is canceled. When set to only one attempt, the system will cancel the subscription on the first decline. 

Invoice Rescheduling Options

When a payment fails, you can view the related invoice to see the current status, the number of attempts thus far, and when the next automatic retry will process. 

You can also edit the "Process Invoice On" date to another date in the future and/or retry the failed invoice instantly. Other invoice options include the ability to apply additional discounts or late charges, as line items, as needed.

Occasionally, after a failed payment, a customer will sign up to the subscription plan again, rather than settling their open invoice. When the automatic retry of the original subscription processes, the customer will get charged again, in duplicate. If this happens, you can always refund the payment and correct the problem by deleting the new or old subscription(s).

Note: A customer who is going through the dunning process will still be reported as an active subscriber. They remain in the system as an active subscriber until the system hits the limit you configured for payment retry's and cancels the customer's subscription. 

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Please let us know if you have any questions. 

The PayWhirl Team 

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