On Kickstarter, a backer’s credit card is not charged until the campaign ends. With potentially thousands of backers being charged at once, it is normal for a portion of these credit cards to fail to charge. This can be for a variety of reasons such as insufficient funds or fraud protection from the backer’s credit institution.
Before we get into how you can lower the amount of dropped backers, let’s talk about what you can expect.
What percentage of credit cards usually fail on Kickstarter?
Here is a breakdown of percentage of failed credit cards from 11 different campaigns we’ve worked on that all raised over $100K. I chose campaigns with differing Average Pledge amounts that represent a range from $47 to $526.
I’ve heard many say that the percentage of failed credit cards usually correlates to the average pledge amount: higher average pledge equals higher percentage of failed credit cards.
This sample of 11 projects differs from that theory.
What I believe affects the percentage of failed credit cards the most is who your backers are. For example, if your backers are primarily made up of a young demographic or there is a high percentage of backers from foreign countries, you will probably experience more failed credit cards.
With that said, I have no formula you can use to calculate your likely failed credit card percentage based on your backers’ demographics.
The best thing you can do is assume based off of averages. From all of our campaigns, the average failed credit card percentage is right around 3%. I would recommend using this number when estimating the percentage of failed credit cards you will have.
Is there anything I can do to lower the percentage of failed credit cards?
Before we get into two strategies to reverse these failed credit cards, let’s understand the timeline after your campaign ends on Kickstarter.
Campaign Ends — credit cards are charged. A percentage of backers become errored backers and have 1 week to fix their credit card.
7 days after end — all errored backers become dropped backers and can no longer fix their credit card issues.
14 days after end — money is transferred from Kickstarter to your bank account.
Soon after you receive your funds from Kickstarter — you’ll send a survey to your backers (we recommend BackerKit) to gather important information about their order like their shipping address.
Now that we’ve covered the timeline, here are two strategies we use to reverse failed credit cards.
Strategy #1 — Personal Messages
When a backer’s credit card fails, Kickstarter sends them a notification asking them to fix the issue within 7 days. This is useful, but you can also take matters into your own hands and deal with your errored backers directly.
After your campaign ends, go to your Backer Report. In the “All backers” dropdown, you can choose your “Errored backers”.
After you select your “Errored backers”, you have the option to message just those backers.
We like to send two messages to errored backers during this time. The first message is sent right after your campaign ends and looks like this:
I noticed that your credit card failed to charge for your [product] pre-order! I wanted to personally reach out to let you know that you only have 1 week to fix it in Kickstarter. If you don’t, then I can’t guarantee that you’ll get your [product] at your Kickstarter discount.
Please let me know if you have any questions!
The second message should be sent 6 days after the campaign ends and looks like this:
Hope all is well! I just want to remind you that this is the *last chance* to update your credit information in Kickstarter. If you don’t, then I can’t guarantee that you’ll get your [product] at the discounted price.
Please login to Kickstarter and correct your credit card information as soon as you can.
If you don’t by tomorrow, you will be dropped as a Kickstarter backer!
Please let me know if you have any questions!
This strategy usually saves about 20–30% of errored backers from becoming dropped backers.
Strategy #2 — BackerKit To The Rescue
BackerKit helps make your post-campaign a breeze and we use them for all of our campaigns. One of the many features they have is failed payment recovery.
With BackerKit, you import all of your backers into their system. This includes the dropped backers with failed credit cards. They are entered into the system with a pledge of $0, but BackerKit knows which reward they tried to pledge for.
When you send out surveys to your backers, BackerKit also sends surveys to the dropped backers and gives them another chance to enter in their credit card information and pay for the reward they tried to buy on Kickstarter. As you might expect, this always recovers a portion of the dropped pledges.
Use this information to properly budget for how many payments will likely fail at the end of your campaign. Losing a small percentage of backers may seem negligible, but it adds up with all the other fees taken from Kickstarter and any other services you use. More importantly, know that you can do something about your failed credit card payments. Reach out personally to your backers to help them. If all else fails, use the power of BackerKit!