To trace a refund, customers can use an Acquirer Reference Number (ARN) for all Visa and Mastercard charges, which can be found in the Stripe Dashboard. System Trace Audit Numbers (STANs) can be used for non-Visa or Mastercard charges but are not unique and require contacting Stripe Support. ARNs are preferred over STANs for their uniqueness and ease of access.
There are times when a customer might write in asking for the status of their refund. To do this, you can provide them with the Acquirer Reference Number (ARN), which allows them to work with their bank to trace the refund for all Visa and Mastercard charges. System Trace Audit Numbers (STANs) are sometimes required to track the status of a refund, though we recommend using ARNs whenever possible. You will never need to have both numbers in order to track your refund.
What is an Acquirer Reference Number (ARN)?
An Acquirer Reference Number (ARN) is a unique number assigned to a credit card transaction as it moves through the payment flow. It can be used by banks to help trace your refund if it appears to be missing. An ARN will be available for Visa and Mastercard charges.
Where to find ARNs in the Dashboard
The ARN can be found in your Stripe Dashboard within the refund under the Timeline section:
What the different ARN statuses mean
ARN is available: The ARN will display within the refund
ARN is processing: The ARN will show as processing when the refund has been created, but we have not finished processing the refund. This is the default status after a refund is created.
ARN isn’t available for this refund: The ARN will be unavailable when it is not available or supported for the refund.
- An example is a reversal refund, when the refund occurs before the charge has been settled with the bank. Rather than waiting for settlement, we reverse and drop the charge. This means the charge will disappear from the card statement for your customer. There is no corresponding refund and therefore no ARN in this scenario.
What is a System Trace Audit Number (STAN)?
A System Trace Audit Number (STAN) is a number generated by the cardholder bank that can be used to identify a transaction. STAN is a trace ID number most commonly used internally at the cardholders bank. It’s always a six-digit code, and therefore is not truly unique as the code resets after 999,999.
When customers should use ARNs vs. STANs
In most cases, we recommend customers use an Acquirer Reference Number (ARN) instead of a STAN for several reasons:
- An ARN is a unique number assigned to a credit card transaction as it moves through the payment flow. Because STANs are six digit codes, they are not truly unique.
- ARNs can be found in your Dashboard. In order to get a STAN today, you need to contact Stripe Support.
What if an ARN is not available?
For non-Visa or Mastercard charges, you will need to provide the customer with a STAN. We also recommend providing the date and time of the transaction along with the STAN, as STANs are not unique. In order to get a STAN, contact Stripe Support.