Dunning email templates

Failed payments are an unfortunate reality for most SaaS and subscription-based businesses, causing them to lose around 9% of their monthly recurring revenue on average. Luckily, most failed payments occur unintentionally, without the customer even realizing what happened until they receive a dunning email. Though it might be a rather frustrating experience for your team and your customers, you can efficiently use well-written dunning emails to prevent involuntary churn and recover lost revenue. Below are some key points to remember when composing and sending dunning emails to your customers, along with some ready-to-use effective dunning email templates based on real-life examples.

What are dunning emails?

Dunning emails are the type of transactional emails (usually a series of emails) sent by SaaS and subscription-based businesses to notify customers about payment issues such as failed subscription payments, expired credit cards, or overdue payments. These emails typically update users about the status of their accounts and provide the option to update their billing information and make a payment to continue using the product or service. Dunning emails are an effective way to reduce customer churn and increase retention.


Best practices for dunning emails

1. Send emails from a real person

Even if your dunning emails are entirely automated, having them sent from a real person makes them feel more human and trustworthy and helps your emails get noticed. Research revealed that using an individual’s name instead of a general email address or a company name can increase your open rate by up to 35%.

2. Enable replies

Ensure you send your dunning emails from an email address your customers can respond to if they face any issues or want to ask further questions. ‘Do not reply’ addresses might only contribute to more customer frustration because you haven’t made it easy for them to get back to you if they wish to do so.

3. Remind them what they stand to lose

Instead of simply informing customers that their payment didn’t go through and asking them to update their credit card detail information, you can add some sense of urgency. Remind them what exactly they will lose if they don’t take the required action (such as losing access to their account and historical data, service interruption, etc.).

nyt dunning email example

4. Include a clear CTA and next steps

A clear call-to-action is one of the most critical parts of dunning emails. Add a direct link that will take customers to update their billing information without opening another window, logging in, or clicking around. Ensure to let them know how long they have before their account will be deactivated unless a payment goes through.

5. Offer an alternative

Based on your pricing model, you can offer customers an alternative to canceling their account, such as a downgrading to a free plan until they update their billing information or offering a special discount to continue using your service. This alternative could be beneficial if the payment failed due to insufficient funds.

Examples of dunning email subject lines

  • Action Required – Your [Product] payment has failed
  • Act now to keep your [Product] subscription
  • We couldn’t process your [Product] payment
  • Your [Product] payment didn’t go through
  • Your [Product] payment was declined
  • Uh-oh! Your payment for [Product] failed
  • Billing issue – update your billing details
spotify dunning email example

Ten dunning email template examples

1. Pre-dunning email

Hi [Name],

As a heads up, the payment information we have on file for your [Product/ Service] subscription (card ending in [4 digits]) is going to expire in a few days. Unfortunately, if we don’t have a valid card, we will have to cancel your subscription.

If you’ve got 30 seconds, would you mind updating your payment information?

Update Now

If you have any questions, simply reply to this email or send us a message on live chat.

Thanks so much!

2. Basic short dunning email

Hi [Name],

We’re having trouble processing your recent payment because your credit card expired.

Would you mind updating your card information? It will only take a couple of minutes of your time. Click here to edit your info.

If you need assistance or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us any time. You can also check out our FAQ page for more information.


Design your own dunning emails

LiveAgent gives you the power to design your own customer email templates, thus helping you to improve the customer service. Curious about all the opportunities?

3. Basic extended dunning email

Hi [Name],

There was an error when we tried to bill your credit card ending in [four digits] for your subscription to [Product/ Service]. Here’s why this may be happening:

A billing error caused by your bank
A change in your billing address
Your credit card has expired
Insufficient funds in your account

Because you are a loyal customer of [Brand], you have seven days to rectify this issue. Please update your billing information to keep your account active. It will only take 1 minute and will allow you to keep using [Product/ Service] at its full potential.

Update Billing Information

Unfortunately, if we still cannot successfully bill your credit card after seven days, your [Product/ Service] account will be suspended. You can reactivate your account at any time by updating your billing information with a valid credit card.

Let us know if you have any questions or need any help.


4. Casual dunning email

Hey [Name],

I got a notification that your [Product/ Service] payment failed. How unfortunate! Luckily, this happens to a lot more users than you’d think, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Usually, it has something to do with:

Your card expiring
Having insufficient funds or maxing out your daily spending limit
Your card is stolen, lost, or was eaten by your dog

Update My Billing Info

Please check what’s up and get it fixed so we can get back to growing your business by [benefits your product/ service provides].


5. Personalized dunning email

Hi [Name],

[Name] here from [Brand].

I’m reaching out about your account as billing for your [Product/ Service] subscription was unsuccessful. It seems that the credit card we have on file expired. But no worries, I’m here to assist!

We have two options:

1. Update your credit card information inside your [Product/ Service]] account. You can use this quick link to update your credit card information: [payment link]. Once done, let me know so I can ensure your subscription has been updated successfully.
2. Give me a call at [phone number], and we can process your payment over the phone.

Let me know what else we can help with. Super happy that you’re part of the [Brand] community.

Thanks, and I look forward to connecting!

6. The ‘Loss aversion’ dunning email

Hey [Name],

Just a friendly heads up that your [Product/ Service] subscription has been officially paused until you update your payment details with us.

If you don’t …
Your subscription will remain paused.
You’ll lose access to your premium features like [feature 1, feature 2, etc.]
[…] won’t be able to continue.

However, you can avoid all that by taking 30 seconds to update your details: billing link.

Reply here or hop onto live chat if you have any questions or need any help.

And as always, thanks so much for using [Product/ Service]. We love what we do, and people like you make that all possible.


7. Dunning email series – email #1

Hi [Name],

It looks like your subscription payment for [Product/ Service] didn’t go through. Please update your billing information, and we’ll give it another try.


Let us know if there’s anything we can do to help.


8. Dunning email series – follow up email #2

Hi [Name],

We just tried to process your subscription payment again, but unfortunately, it didn’t go through. To keep your [Product/ Service] subscription active, please update your information in your billing settings here:


This is the second time that your payment failed. We’ll automatically try again in a few days. Let us know if you have any questions.


9. Dunning email series – follow up email #3

Hi [Name],

We just tried to process your [Product/ Service] subscription payment for the third time, but unfortunately, it failed once again. You can update your information in your billing settings:

We’ll automatically try again next week. If the next charge fails again, your account will be canceled automatically. 🙁

Let us know if you have any questions or need any help.


10. Dunning email series – the ‘final warning’ email #4

Hi [Name],

We will cancel your subscription to [Product/ Service] soon because we could not process a payment after several attempts to contact you.

If you receive this email, please update your payment information, and we’ll be happy to keep your account active.


Let us know if there is anything we can do to help.


Try LiveAgent Today​

We offer concierge migration services from most of the popular help desk solutions.

3,000+ reviews Trustpilot GetApp G2 Crowd

Frequently asked questions

Why are dunning emails important?

Many business owners feel uncomfortable when they have to send out dunning emails to their customers. However, since most failed payments typically happen by accident (e.g., due to credit card expiry), dunning emails can genuinely be efficient in helping businesses recover failed payments and reduce involuntary churn.

How many dunning emails should I send?

As transactional emails can often get overlooked, sending a single dunning email is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. If you want to recover more revenue from failed payments, consider sending out a series of emails instead of a single message. It’s recommended to send at least three follow-up emails for a month, each with a slightly different text.

Should I send pre-dunning emails?

Since technologies like credit card retries have come into use, many failed payments can be automatically handled without your team ever needing to bother your customers with pre-dunning messages. In that case, pre-dunning emails are not only providing zero-value but can also be irritating for your customers and, therefore, should be avoided.

Back to Templates Create account for FREE

Our website uses cookies. By continuing we assume your permission to deploy cookies as detailed in our privacy and cookies policy.