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How to Write Effective Dunning Emails (30+ Examples Included)

by Dominique Jackson. Last updated on June 17, 2024

When most SaaS companies talk about reducing churn, they’re usually referring to voluntary churn. The customers who actively cancel their subscription.

However, there’s another type of churn that gets overlooked. And if you’re not careful, it can slowly eat away at your revenue and bleed your company dry.

I’m talking about involuntary churn. The customers whose subscriptions end because their credit card payments failed and they never made up for the payment.

Just how much damage is involuntary churn causing? According to our data, SaaS and subscriptions businesses lose around 9% of their MRR due to failed payments on average.

Luckily, you don’t have to just sit back and let it happen.

Actively sending emails (a.k.a dunning emails) to customers when their payments fail is your best bet at recovering that lost revenue.

But what exactly should you include in your marketing email to catch your customers' attention and get them to make their payment? This guide will cover that.

I’ll explain how to optimize every part of your dunning email, give you tips to make your emails stand out and share over 30 dunning email examples from other SaaS and subscription companies.

Let’s get it “dun”. (sorry for the bad joke, but I couldn’t resist.)

What is dunning?

Dunning is the process of asking customers to pay you for money owed as a result of failed payments.

The payments usually fail because the card on file is expired, they have insufficient funds, or an issue with their bank.

When that happens, SaaS companies typically send an email (or series of emails) to let the customer know the payment failed, and give them the opportunity to update their billing information and make a payment. Those emails are called dunning emails.

After a certain amount of time, if the customer doesn’t make their payment, their account will typically get canceled or downgraded depending on your pricing model. I’ll dive more into this later on.

How to send a payment failed email

If you use a payment processing tool like Stripe, you likely have a basic dunning email setup.

They typically look like this:

Signable dunning email

Source: Signable

Nextsale dunning email

Source: Nextsale

When the email goes out, your customers just have to click on the call to action and update their info. Simple and easy.

But if you’re looking for something a little more advanced, that gives you more customization options and data, you can use a dunning tool like Recover (our product).

With Recover, you can create a series of automated dunning emails that go out to customers when their payments fail.

Baremetrics Recover email overview

One of the things I like most about Recover is you get data on the performance of your emails. That way, you can see exactly how much revenue you’re recovering from each email, performance over time and other info. I’m a sucker for charts and graphs.

recover performance dashboard

Whether you go with a standard out-the-box solution or a dedicated tool like Recover, every SaaS company should have a dunning solution setup. Otherwise you’re literally just letting money slip away.

Once you have your tool of choice, you can get down to business. Because just sending out any old email and asking for payment isn’t a guarantee you’ll get paid.

How to optimize each part of your dunning email

The goal of your dunning email is to get your customer to update their billing information. It sounds simple, but think about all the things that need to happen in order for it to be successful.

First, the email has to make it to your customer’s inbox. That might seem like a small task, but remember, you’re battling the Spam and Promotions folder if your customers use Gmail.

And according to one study, you have less than a 50% chance of getting your email in your customer’s inbox.





Percentage split of where emails were delivered




Once you do make it to their inbox (or Promotions folder), they have to spot your email in a sea of other emails they have from other companies.

If you’re lucky enough for them to open your email, then you have to entice them enough to stop whatever they’re doing and update their billing info. And while getting paid is a priority for you, it’s not always at the top of your customer’s to-do list.

Plus, according to Mailchimp’s benchmarks, the average email from a software company gets a click rate of 2.45%.

If you make a mistake in any of those steps, you’re hurting your chances of getting paid.

In order to avoid that, let’s do a quick breakdown of each part of your dunning emails to improve your chances of getting the email delivered, read and clicked-through.

Subject line

Your subject line has one job: to get your customer to open the email.

Always remember that your dunning email is just one of dozens (or even hundreds) of messages in your customer’s inbox. If you want to get seen, you need to stand out.

Using some classic copywriting skills can really come in handy here. Specifically, you want them to feel some type of emotion when they see your subject line.

You know that feeling you get when you walk out the house and door locks behind you. Then after you take a few steps, you pat your pocket and think to yourself “oh crap, did I forget my keys?”

Or when you’re at home watching TV and then a jewelry commercial comes on. And you realize, “oh crap, Mother’s Day is tomorrow!”

Your stomach might drop a little bit, and you feel a brief moment of worry. And you know you need to do something right now in order to fix the situation. You can’t put it off.

Those are what I like to call “oh crap” moments. And if you can get your customer to get close to that feeling when they see your subject line, you’ll have a good chance of convincing them to open your dunning email.

Let’s take a look at an example from CanIRank:

CanIRank Dunning Email

The subject line of their dunning email is “CanIRank Payment Declined”. And as you can see, the customer responded and fixed the issue.

There are two elements in particular that make this subject line effective:

1) They included their brand name

Notice that instead of something generic like “Payment declined” or “Please update payment method”, CanIRank includes their company name in the subject line. If they would’ve used a generic subject line, their email might’ve been flagged as spam or glossed over.

But with this subject line, the customer immediately recognizes the name of the company (since they use their product). This is particularly helpful if your Sent From name is the name of a person rather than your company.

2) They used an emotional word

Which statement has more power:

  • Your payment didn’t go through
  • Your payment was declined

Both mean the same thing, but there’s something about hearing your payment was “declined” that hits you in the gut and makes you want to take action. Some other words that have a similar effect are “canceled” or “terminated”.

Let’s look at another example. This one is from Kinsta. They use this subject line in their dunning email:

Subject: Action Required – Your Kinsta payment has failed.

Can you spot what they did right? Not only did they include their brand name, but they use a couple of different emotional words. The first is actually a phrase—Action Required.

When you see that on the subject line in your inbox, you immediately know that you need to do something, or that you might’ve let something slip through the cracks.

The second emotional word?


Failed means something went wrong. There’s a problem that needs to be solved. And believe it or not, some experts believe that humans have a natural instinct to want to solve problems.

So when your customers see “failed” in their inbox, they’ll likely be more motivated to click your email to solve the problem.

If you want more inspiration, don’t worry. I’ll show you other dunning email subject lines throughout the rest of the guide.

Email Body

Your amazing subject line enticed your customer to click and open your email. Now it’s up to the body of your email to take them the rest of the way.

The key to writing an effective dunning email is to keep it brief and get straight to the point. You’re not writing a 2,000 word article here. The body of your email should tell your customer two things (the 1-2 punch):

  • What happened
  • What they need to do (your call to action)

Here’s a great example from SoapBox.

soapbox dunning email example

Another thing that you’ll notice in their dunning email is a level of empathy. You don’t want to come off like a cold heartless corporation that only cares about money.

In the second sentence of the email, SoapBox mentions that they don’t want to continue to charge their card because it could freeze their account.

Not only does that show empathy, but also an understanding that the failed payment was probably an accident and the customer just needs to update their information.

Here’s another example of the 1-2 punch (telling customers what happened, and what they need to do) from Custify. Here’s the email they send out to customers if their payment fails.

Subject: {Company Name}, your invoice is overdue – First Notice

Hi there {First Name},

We just tried to charge your credit card for your subscription renewal at Custify, however it failed. A couple of reasons why this may be happening:

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

Please update your billing information to keep this account active. It will only take 1 minute and it will allow you to keep using Custify at its full potential.

Update payment info button


In addition to letting the customer know the charge didn’t go through, they also give them some potential reasons why.

When a customer reads the list, they might immediately recognize why the charge didn’t go through and quickly go update their info.

Also, keep in mind that people hate to be inconvenienced. Specifying that “it will only take 1 minute” assures the customer that it won’t take up too much of their time.

Lastly, if you have the info, you can go the route of MoonMail and tell your customer exactly why the payment failed.

Hi {First Name},

We just tried to charge your credit card for your subscription renewal at MoonMail, however it failed due to {reason}.

We kindly suggest you to go to your MoonMail settings area to update your Credit Card details to keep your subscription safe. Don’t worry all data (contacts, list, campaigns and scheduled automations) are still in safe place!

I’ll give you some more tips for writing email copy later, but keep the 1-2 punch in mind.


Hopefully, between your subject line and the body of your email your customers update their info. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

Sometimes your customer’s payment fails because they can’t afford to keep using your product (i.e. insufficient funds). Or maybe they’re having an issue with their bank that they’re trying to fix.

That’s when the “closing” of your dunning email can come in handy.

Whenever simply updating their billing details isn’t an option, use your closing to give them an alternative solution.

For instance, Nifty gives customers a few ways to get more help aside from updating their billing details.

nifty dunning email example

Juicer has a similar approach, but they link directly to their FAQ section about declined payments.

Hi {Name} –

We’ve been unable to process your payment for Juicer using your card ending with 1234. Can you please take a moment to update your payment information on our site?

Thanks so much for your immediate attention to this issue!

Card should be working? Check out our FAQ:

Let me know if you have any questions or need any help!



Juicer CTO

UXPressia includes a line at the end of their email offering to give customers assistance if they’re having trouble fixing their billing details.

uxpressia dunning email

Now that you know the pieces that make up a dunning email, let’s dive deeper into what you can do to improve your recovery rate.


9 tips to improve your dunning email recovery rate

Before we jump into this section, I want to preface it by saying there is no “perfect” template for dunning emails. What works for one company might not work for yours. The only way to find out what works for you is to test.

If your dunning emails haven’t been as effective as you’d like, or you just want to experiment to see if you can recover more revenue, give these tips a try.

1. Send multiple emails

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your dunning emails is to just send a single email and hope for the best.

People put things off, emails get overlooked and life happens. If you want to recover more revenue from failed payments, you have to be persistent.

Just how many emails should you send?

Well, we analyzed over 1 million dunning emails sent by our customers with Recover and here’s what we found:

Average Dunning Email Performance 

# of days delinquent

Open rate

Click rate

Recovery rate

0 days 41.29% 11.21% 13.25%
3 days 34.1% 7.64% 11.46%
7 days 32.7% 6.72% 11.51%
15 days 28.17% 4.11%


20 days 25.71% 3.43% 3.83%
30 days 26.83% 3.93% 4.2%

As you can see, the first email sent is the most effective (0 days = the email sent the day of the failed payment). But look at the following emails sent after that.

Imagine if you only sent the one initial email. All the customers who didn’t open or click your email or update their billing info would go unpaid until who knows when.

This is one of the reasons we don’t recommend relying on out-of-the-box dunning emails from your payment processors.

With most of them, your emails are sent over the course of 7-14 days. And as you can see from our data above, expanding to 30 days allows you to recover A LOT more revenue.

If you’re concerned about coming off as too pushy by sending multiple dunning emails, don’t be. Here are some examples of companies that send a series of dunning emails without coming off as annoying.

First, here’s an example from Snappa.

0 days after delinquent

Subject: Uh-oh! Your payment for Snappa failed

Hi there,

It looks like your subscription payment for Snappa didn’t go through. Please update your billing information and we’ll give it another try!


Let us know if you have any questions.

– Jonny

3 days after delinquent:

Subject: 2nd notice: Another unsuccessful payment for your Snappa account

Hi there,

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


Let us know if you have any questions.

– Jonny

7 days after delinquent:

Subject: Final notice: Need updated Snappa billing information

Hi there,

We just tried to process your Snappa subscription payment for the third time, but unfortunately it failed once again.

You can update your information in your billing settings here:


If the next charge fails, your account will be cancelled automatically 🙁

Let us know if you have any questions.

– Jonny

Notice how they customize the subject line and text of each email. And the wording gets increasingly urgent with each email. The first email is a gentle reminder and the last one is a final warning.

Here’s another example from Chalice Network.

Day 1:

Subject Line: Billing Issue

Hi there,

We’re having trouble processing your most recent payment. Would you mind updating the card on file?

Here’s a link to update your billing info:

Update Your Card Now


Day 6:

Subject Line: Can you help with this billing issue?

Hi there,

We’ve still been unable to process your recent payment.

Please click this link to update your card:

Update Your Card Now


Day 14:

Subject Line: Need help?


I’m Tim, and I help handle customer issues at Succession Link.

I notice the payment information on your account is still outdated. Is there anything I can do to help?

You should be able to update your information in less than a minute at Update Your Card Now.



Customer Success

Day 20:

Subject Line: Final notice to update payment information

Hi there,

We’re still not able to process your card.

In order for your account to remain active, you must update your payment information or respond to this email.

Update Your Card Now

We appreciate your prompt response!

Succession Link

Day 25:

Subject Line: We’re sorry!

Hi there,

Your service will soon be canceled, because we were unable to 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.

Please update your payment information here:

Update Your Card Now

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

Day 30:

End campaign + Cancel subscription

Their email series spans 30 days, but the emails are spaced apart so they don’t bombard the customer with emails every day.

You don’t necessarily have to write completely new copy for each email. For instance, in this example from TrackingTime, the copy on each email is very similar with a couple of small tweaks.

Email #1 – 2 days delinquent

Hi Agnes,

Unfortunately, your most recent invoice payment for $49.9 was declined.

This could be due to a change in your card number or your card expiring, cancellation of your credit card, or the bank not recognizing the payment and taking action to prevent it.

This is the second time in a row that your payment fails. We’ll automatically try again in a few days.

Please get in touch with your bank or update your credit card details as soon as possible:

Update your payment method

Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us anytime. Your customer reference number is ‘cus_8XwcaEZ8NMKpCK’. 

Email #2 – 5 days delinquent

Hi Agnes,

Unfortunately, your most recent invoice payment for $49.9 was declined.

This could be due to a change in your card number or your card expiring, cancellation of your credit card, or the bank not recognizing the payment and taking action to prevent it.

This is the third time in a row that your payment fails. We’ll automatically try again next week. In case the payment fails again, we’ll be forced to temporarily suspend your account.

Please get in touch with your bank or update your credit card details as soon as possible:

Update your payment method

Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us anytime. Your customer reference number is ‘cus_8XwcaEZ8NMKpCK’.

Email #3 – 12 days delinquent

Hi Agnes,

Unfortunately, your most recent invoice payment for $49.9 was declined.

This could be due to a change in your card number or your card expiring, cancellation of your credit card, or the bank not recognizing the payment and taking action to prevent it.

Since this is the fourth failed payment attempt during the past two weeks, your TrackingTime account has been temporarily suspended.

But don’t worry: your data is safe and sound! To get your account reactivated again, please get in touch with your bank or update your credit card details as soon as possible.

Update your payment method

Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us anytime. Your customer reference number is ‘cus_8XwcaEZ8NMKpCK’.

The main difference between each email is they reference how late the payment is, and they let the customer know what’ll happen if they don’t make a payment.

If you’re sending a sequence of dunning emails, make sure you’re measuring the success of each one. That way, you know what’s working and what’s not.

For instance, we track the performance of each dunning email we send, which makes it easy to see where we can make improvements.

dunning email performance breakdown

Plus, it allows us to quantify the impact of each email in the series.

2. Change your email copy periodically

If things are going good and you’re recovering revenue with your current dunning emails, it’s easy to get complacent. As the saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Unfortunately that doesn’t always hold true.

Your emails might not be broken, but they could be worn down. And you’ll never know unless you change them up.

If you’ve been sending the same dunning email for years and your success metrics aren’t really growing, it’s not a bad idea to change things up.

Another time when it makes sense to change your dunning emails is to adjust for major events.

Take this email from Email Meter for example (they change their template every few months):


This is (…) from the Email Meter team! We understand that the current situation has shifted all of our focus, making it a bit difficult to deal with our daily tasks. I’m reaching out because unfortunately, we weren’t able to process your most recent Email Meter payment. 

This typically happens to our customers when the card associated with your account has expired, there has been a change in your billing address, or your bank needs your authorization. We are here to make your life easier and if you would be interested in chatting with us we can guide you through the next steps.

Or if you prefer to go solo (it doesn’t hurt our feelings) you can log into your Email Meter account and review your account details.

Update your account in 3 easy steps!

1. Log into your Email Meter account

2. Go to the “my account” icon in the left sidebar

3. From here you can edit your payment method and billing information 

Talk soon!

Notice how the beginning of the email is customized to acknowledge what’s going on in the world at the time.

SwipedOn took a similar approach:

Hi {Name},

I hope you and your team are keeping safe during these uncertain times.

Recently we attempted to charge the credit card on your account for your SwipedOn visitor management subscription. However unfortunately, the transaction was declined and unsuccessful.

Are you able to take a minute now to check and update your payment details? This would ensure you don’t experience any interruption of your service.

Please follow these steps:

1. Log into your SwipedOn web dashboard.

2. Navigate to the ‘Accounts’ tab.

3. Update your credit card details.

If you would like to discuss alternative payment methods, please let us know – you can reply to this email or chat online with our amazing support team.

As always, thanks for being a SwipedOn customer.

Best regards,


There’s no rule that every dunning email you send needs to be the same. Test and analyze!

3. Show them what they’re losing (loss aversion)

Just telling someone they have a bill due isn’t always enough to motivate them to take action. If they don’t feel like it’s urgent, they’ll take their time and eventually forget about it.

In order to get around that, you can use a little psychology to light a fire underneath them. Specifically, loss aversion.

Loss aversion is the idea that the fear of losing something is greater than the joy of gaining the same thing. So for instance, let’s say you lost $100. Loss aversion suggests that your reaction from losing that $100 would be twice as strong as the reaction you’d have to gaining $100.

Here’s how to translate that to your dunning emails.

Instead of telling your customers that their payment didn’t go through and asking them to update their billing info, let them know exactly what they stand to lose if they don’t act.

Here’s an example from WhatConverts:


This is a notification that we haven’t received your latest payment for WhatConverts. Important historical data in your account may be lost if payment gets interrupted.

Please respond to update payment information.

Thank you

Notice how they emphasize that if the customer doesn’t take any action, they’re going to lose historical data. Since they sell marketing software, that data is vital for their customers. There’s a clear loss of value if they don’t update their billing information.

If their customers still haven’t made their payment after five days, WhatConverts sends another email to reinforce what the customer is at risk of losing:


This is your final notification that we’ve failed to receive payment for your WhatConverts account. Please update payment information now to avoid loss of data, account reactivation fees, and interruptions to your incoming leads.

Respond to this email to update payment information,

Thank you

In this case, they triple down with loss aversion by letting them know they stand to lose:

  • Historical data

  • Money (in fees)

  • Money (in lost leads)

Here’s another example of loss aversion in a dunning email from WP Buffs.

WP Buffs dunning email example

They were also kind enough to share some success metrics around how well their dunning emails are performing!

wpbuffs dunning email stats

Want graphs like this for your business?

In order to make loss aversion particularly powerful, you can include the worst case scenario like Kinsta does in this dunning email:

Hello {First Name},

We’ve been unable to process your company’s (Company Name) payment for Kinsta services. We received the following information from your card issuer: {Card Error}

Please note that we will attempt to charge your payment method three more times in the next 15 days. If the third attempt fails, we will stop all services associated with your account which will result in your websites appearing offline and your content deleted from our platform.

For more information about outstanding invoices, please see this knowledge base article: What Happens if I Don’t Pay My Invoice?.

Thanks so much for your immediate attention to this issue! If you need assistance, feel free to contact our team from within MyKinsta. We’re here to help!

The fear of having your website taken down and losing all your content is more than enough motivation to login and update your billing information as soon as possible.

You can see a similar example in DropInBlog’s dunning emails.

Hi {First Name},

Your DropInBlog payment of ${amount} has failed.

You will have 14 days to make your payment. If you do not pay within 14 days then your account will be cancelled and your blog will no longer be accessible.

To make a payment just login at {url}.

Thanks for your business!

If you want a more subtle approach for using loss aversion in your dunning emails, check out this example from StoreRocket Store Locator:

StoreRocket dunning email

They politely warn customers that if they don’t make their payment soon, their service is at risk of getting canceled.

Here are a few tips for using loss aversion in your dunning emails:

  • Be specific: Saying “your account is at risk” is a good start. But to make your dunning emails more impactful, get specific. Exactly what will the customer lose if they don’t update their billing information?
  • Show empathy: You don’t want to sound threatening. Make it clear that the reason you’re sending the email is that you don’t want them to lose anything.
  • Give fair warning: Notice how in all the examples I shared, the companies were giving their customers a heads up. The emails weren’t notifying them that they had already lost something, but rather, what they are going to lose soon if they don’t take action.

Loss aversion can be a powerful tactic if used right. Give it a try and hopefully you’ll notice an improvement on your recovered revenue.

4. Personalize your emails

By now, most SaaS companies are aware of the benefit of personalizing emails. But sometimes, that knowledge starts and ends with email marketing.

Your dunning emails should be personalized too!

Not only will it help with email deliverability, but people are more apt to respond to an email that seems like it was sent specifically for them.

In fact, one report showed 62% of consumers were more excited to respond to a personalized message than a generic one.

Your personalization can go beyond just including the person’s name. Here are some other ideas.

Send your emails from a person:

I’m about to tell you something that’ll blow your mind.

Most people prefer dealing with people over no-name bots in terms of customer service. 🤯

I know, very profound!

All jokes aside, though, the Sent-from name in your emails has a major impact on whether or not people open them.

reasons for opening email

To take things a step further, research shows that using a person’s name instead of a company name can increase your open rate by up to 35%.

And whatever you do, please DON’T send your dunning emails from “”. It puts up a wall between you and customers and makes it seem like you don’t want to talk to them.

And like I mentioned earlier, sometimes the reason your customer’s payment didn’t go through isn’t as simple as updating their billing information. So you need to make it easy for them to get in touch with you.

Even if the emails are automated, having them sent from a person makes them feel a little more human like this example from Wiza.

Wiza dunning email

Here’s another example from Pigeon. The founder, Pat Walls, sends all his dunning emails from himself so customers know exactly who they’re communicating with if they need to reply.

pigeon dunning email

Another subtle way to personalize your dunning emails is to include a piece of info specific to the customer’s account. For instance, Kapa99 includes the amount of the charge that failed.

Hey {Name},

Your friends at Kapa99 here.

I am writing because it looks like your subscription payment of {Amount} didn’t go through.

Please update your information here and we’ll give it another try.

Let us know if you have any questions,

Ka Kei Ho at Kapa99

Founder, Kapa99

The team at DeskTime includes the billing period the failed payment was for.

DeskTime dunning email

And here’s an example from Marketgoo, who even personalizes their subject line with the last four digits of the credit card.

Subject: Your 💳 Visa card ending in 1234 has failed

Hey {First Name}, 

Looks like your marketgoo subscription payment of $19.95 didn’t go through.

Unfortunately your account has insufficient funds. Please update your information here and we’ll give it another try.

Let us know if you have any questions.

Creating personalized dunning emails like these is pretty simple. Here’s an example of how we put ours together. We use tags to personalize each email we send.

dunning email customizable attributes

Send personalized dunning emails just like this one!

If you’re starting from scratch, or don’t currently do any personalization, here are some things to start with:

  • Include your customer’s name
  • Mention their company name (if you sell B2B)
  • Last four numbers of their card
  • Amount of the charge
  • Use a real person for your “From” name
  • Send it from an email that’s actively monitored (do not use

Use any combination of those that you want. But as long as your emails have some level of personalization, you’re in a better position to get them opened, read and clicked through.

5. Don’t be afraid to add personality

Yes, you’re essentially sending out a collections email. But that doesn’t mean it has to be dull and boring.

Using a more “cheerful” and upbeat tone in your dunning emails can be a good way to grab your customer’s attention.

Check out this example from Zalster, who mixes emojis and casual language into their dunning emails to add a little flavor.

Subject line: Failed payment to Zalster, uh oh.

👋 there,

I just got a notification of your payment failing with Zalster. How unfortunate! Luckily, this happens to a lot more users than you’d think so don’t beat yourself up about it. The bad thing is that your optimizations aren’t running if your payment fails.

Usually, it has something to do with one of the events below:

  1. Your card has expired 📅
  2. You’ve got insufficient funds or you’ve reached your limit 💸
  3. Your card has been stolen, disappeared, eaten by your dog or something like that and you haven’t updated your account with the new one 💳

Have a quick check of what’s up and get it fixed so we can get back to growing your business by automating and optimizing your Facebook and Instagram Ads 🚀 💰!

Kind regards,


Head of Client Success

This email is getting them a 60% open rate, so they’re doing something right.

If emojis aren’t your thing, no worries. You can still give life to your dunning emails with words alone, like this example from YL Education Club.

Subject: Re: Oh no, there’s a problem with your {Company Name} payment

Hey {Customer Name}!

We are so sad that you are no longer in The YL Education Club, the fastest and easiest way to strengthen your knowledge and accelerate your business.We’ve been unable to process your payment for {Company Name} using your card ending with {Customer Last 4}. 

Please take a moment to update your payment information in the YL Ed Club. This ensures that you still have access to videos, business tools, and mentorship.

{Billing Link}

Thanks so much for your immediate attention to this issue!

Thank you!

YL Education Club

The subject line has a human tone, and they show empathy in the first sentence. 

It’s easy to sound robotic and vanilla with your dunning emails. Using a lighter and empathetic tone is a simple way to make your emails sound more natural.

6. Offer an alternative to cancellation

If a customer’s payment doesn’t go through, it doesn’t need to be an “all or nothing” situation. Depending on your pricing model, you can offer customers an alternative to canceling their account due to a failed payment.

This is particularly helpful if the reason for the failed charge was insufficient funds.

Here are some dunning email examples from other SaaS companies who offer customers alternative solutions to closing their accounts.

Social Status downgrades customers to a free plan until they update their billing information.

social status dunning email example

EmailOctopus warns customers that their account will be downgraded if they don’t update their billing. Plus, they use loss aversion to let them know what they’re going to lose by being downgraded.

Email #1:

Subject: Please update your payment information

Hi there,

We were unable to take payment for your EmailOctopus Pro plan, using your Visa card ending in 4321. Can you please take a moment to update your payment information?

It’s a one-step process and shouldn’t take more than a minute. This will ensure that your plan remains active and your existing campaign reports are retained (on the free Starter plan, they’re deleted 30 days after the send date).

Thanks so much for using EmailOctopus!

Best wishes,

Tom, COO at EmailOctopus

Email #2

Subject: Second attempt for payment failed

Hi there,

We’re still unable to take payment for your EmailOctopus Pro plan using your Visa card ending in 4321.

Please note that on our free Starter plan, campaign reports are deleted 30 days after their send date. Updating your payment information will prevent your old reports from being deleted, and will mean you get to keep the many other benefits of your Pro plan.

If you’re having trouble, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Thanks for your immediate attention to this issue.

Best wishes,

Tom, COO at EmailOctopus

Email #3

Subject: Final warning before downgrade (important)

Hi there,

I’m Tom, the Chief Operating Officer at EmailOctopus. I hope you’re doing well.

My team have just let me know me that your account is due to be downgraded to our free Starter plan in the next 72 hours, at which point you’ll lose the benefits of your Pro plan. Most importantly, it will mean that any of your campaign reports older than 30 days will be permanently deleted (under the terms of our free Starter plan).

In order for your account to remain active, you’ll need to update your card in your account settings.

If you’re having trouble, please let me know as soon as possible.

Best wishes,

Tom, COO at EmailOctopus

If you don’t offer a free plan for your software, you can take a page from History Hit’s book and offer your customer a special deal to continue using your service.

historyhit dunning email

See how History Hit was able to bounce back after a 66% increase in cancellations!

I’d only recommend offering a deal like this in certain scenarios though. 

If the payment failed because the card was expired or they just need to update their billing address, cost isn’t the issue. They have the ability to pay in full, they just need to update their info. So you’d be better off pushing to get them to update their billing information.

On the other hand, if the charge failed because they had insufficient funds, then offering a discount to prevent them from churning could be a good compromise.

7. Send in-app reminders

Not everyone checks their email regularly. Plus, like I mentioned earlier, most people get so many emails it’s easy to get overlooked.

That’s why instead of just sending dunning emails, you should also set up in-app reminders when a payment hasn’t gone through. 

dunning paywall

Start recovering failed payments just like this!

If you sell a product that customers log into regularly, this might be even more effective than your emails.

Here’s another example. 

Appointedd sends this in-app message to customers when their payments fail. They also make it easy to ask questions or get more info by using chat.

Appointedd dunning in app message

The more communication you have with customers when their payments fail, the better. In-app reminders give you another channel to connect outside of their inbox.

8. Send your emails to the right person (or people)

Depending on how your product and billing are set up, the primary user might not be the person in charge of paying the bill. This is particularly common with B2B SaaS products.

If your software allows for multiple users, it can be helpful to send your dunning emails out to all the emails under the account. That way, you have a higher chance of getting a response and don’t have to wait for one person to forward your email to the right person.

That’s exactly what SiteSwan does. They send their dunning emails to all users on the account who have Billing permissions (also notice the loss aversion!):

Subject: Urgent! Your account is past due

Hi {Account Name},

It appears your credit card ending in 7570 has failed to go through. We will automatically try processing the card again in 24 hours. If this card is no longer valid or there are insufficient funds, please update your payment information by logging into your account immediately. Your accounts and sites are at risk of coming offline if your payment does not go through successfully.

Update your account here:

If you have any questions, please let us know.

Thank you,



Don’t miss out on revenue just because you sent your dunning emails to the wrong person.

9. Use pre-dunning to warn customers in advance

You don’t have to wait for your customer’s payment to fail in order to contact them. To prevent failed payments for expired credit cards, you can be proactive by sending a pre-dunning email.

This is an email that lets customers know their credit card will expire soon and they should go in and update it.

According to our analysis of almost 300,000 pre-dunning emails, they have a higher success rate than some dunning emails sent after a payment fails.

Average Pre-Dunning Email Performance 

# of days before expiration

Open rate

Click rate Recovery rate
7 41.39% 10.74% 13.84%
30 days 47.41% 12.97% 14.37%

What exactly should you include in your pre-dunning email?

Here’s an example from WeVideo.

Hi {Customer Name}!

As a heads up, the payment information you have on file for your WeVideo subscription (card ending {Customer.Last4}) is going to expire in a few days. Unfortunately, if we don’t have a valid card, we will have to cancel your subscription when your term ends.

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

Please login to your account and click “Update Payment” in the account management page. If you have any questions, please see this support article or contact us at


The WeVideo Team

And here are the pre-dunning emails we send to our customers at Baremetrics.

We send this one 30 days before the credit card expiration date.

baremetrics predunning email 30 days

And this is what we send seven days before the card expires.

baremetrics predunning email 7 days

In most cases, it’s better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to dunning emails. You can use Recover to create your pre-dunning emails up and track their performance.

Give your payment failed emails a makeover

“Perfect” dunning emails don’t exist. There are always things you can adjust. And what works for one company might not work for another.

The important thing is to experiment and always try to make improvements. When it comes to lost revenue from failed payments, even a slight improvement in your recovery rate can make a huge impact on your MRR.

The Baremetrics Messenger tool can help you understand the performance of your payment failed emails so you can continuously improve. Try a 14-day free trial today


Dominique Jackson

Former Content Marketer at Baremetrics