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What is a credit card vault?

Sarah Brennan
Product Lead - Accept

A seamless checkout experience is no longer a perk; it's an expectation. Our research finds that a long and confusing checkout frustrates customers and accounts for 15% of all abandoned carts.

The bottom line: Consumers crave frictionless transactions that are fast, secure, and frustration-free. 

So, how do businesses deliver this experience?  

Enter credit card vaulting. 

Join us as we explore why credit card vaulting is so important and how it fits into the payments ecosystem. 

Read on to learn more about:

  • What is a credit card vault and what are the benefits?
  • Storing customer credit cards internally vs. an external credit card vault service 
  • How Primer can support your business with credit card vaulting 

What is a credit card vault?

A credit card vault is a database that securely stores customer card information, including the PAN, cardholder name, and expiration date.

It protects this data not by keeping it under lock and key but by tokenizing the card details. Basically, replacing them with a string of randomly generated numbers that are indecipherable. 

So, if any nefarious actor does breach the vault, what they find will be of zero use to them. 

What are the additional benefits of vaulting credit card vault?

The core functionality of a credit card vault is to store customer card details in a secure manner. However using a vault to save and store customer card details can also realize additional advantages.

  1. Achieve PCI compliance 

Data security standards are the bedrock of secure payment processing, and PCI-DSS (short for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance is at the very core. However, complying with PCI-DSS is costly and arduous, which is why many merchants decide to use a third-party vault, which allows them to offload the compliance burden. 

  1. Deliver a streamlined checkout

Today’s customers prioritize convenience, and lengthy checkout processes can significantly impact your revenue. By saving card details in a vault, merchants eliminate the need for customers to re-enter their payment information. This results in a faster and more convenient checkout process that’s proven to boost customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.

  1. Simplify billing for subscription payments

With customer card details securely vaulted, they're readily accessible for future billing, eliminating the need for repetitive requests that can cause customer churn. Vaulted data streamlines recurring payments and subscriptions, enabling automated billing and reducing manual work.

  1. Reduce fraud

With the stolen data market a thriving underground industry, protecting customer data from bad actors has never been more serious. Not only is a data breach disastrous for your customers, but your business could face chargebacks and a decimated reputation.  Using credit card vault providers gives your business the best possible protection against data breaches. 

Should you store cards internally or use a third-party vault? 

Now for the big question: should you store credit card details internally or use a third-party vaulting service? 

The answer will depend on a few factors, so here are some considerations to help you choose the best path for your business: 

  1. Security and compliance

Security and compliance are crucial when vaulting credit card data, as the infrastructure must meet PCI-DSS standards.

Achieving PCI-DSS compliance can be complex and expensive, requiring substantial initial and ongoing investments in security infrastructure and expertise.Violations of PCI-DSS compliance can result in severe consequences, including hefty fines and bans on accepting credit cards. Therefore, compliance is not a one-time task but an ongoing responsibility.

Third-party vaulting services offer a solution, as they are typically PCI-DSS compliant and provide robust security measures such as encryption, tokenization, and regular audits. By outsourcing your credit card vaulting, you can significantly reduce your PCI compliance burden, allowing you to focus on growing your business.

  1. Cost

Building your own vault with the required security infrastructure involves significant upfront costs. The investment extends beyond setup and maintenance, as you'll also need to conduct regular compliance audits and stay vigilant for emerging security vulnerabilities.

Moreover, you must account for the ongoing expense of hiring specialized personnel to manage your vault's security, maintain compliance, and address technical issues. These costs can quickly add up.

Want to reduce payment costs? Check out our ROI calculator.

  1. Scalability and flexibility

Building and developing a vault that can keep up with your business growth and emerging requirements can be very challenging. In contrast, third-party services scale seamlessly to handle increasing transaction volumes and customer bases, eliminating this concern.

Additionally, these services are designed to be flexible, accommodating new payment methods and facilitating market expansion—crucial for businesses with ambitious growth plans.

Most importantly, third-party credit card vaulting services give merchants access to a wide range of payment gateways. This flexibility is essential for going global, as it makes cross-border payments smoother and more efficient.

  1. Control and customization

For merchants prioritizing data sovereignty and privacy, building their own vault offers complete control over customer data. However, this comes with increased exposure to security hacks and data breaches. Credit card vaulting services give you access to your customer’s data without the high stakes that come with handling highly sensitive information. 

  1. Integration and support

Many third-party providers offer robust APIs and comprehensive support to facilitate the smooth integration of vaulting services with a merchant’s existing systems and processes. This makes getting set up pretty efficient. And how about the dedicated support and expertise offered by most external providers? Consider the value of these features and how feasible it is to nail them when building their own in-house credit card vault.

Why should you store card details with Primer?

Primer is a Level 1 PCI-compliant credit card vault storing your customers’ payment data using tokenization. 

Our centralized vault solution enables you to:

  • Initiate recurring payments with a saved payment method
  • Offer a one-click experience for your customers at checkout 
  • Meet data security regulations without the burden of compliance 

Import your existing vaulted cards

If you already have customer cards stored with a specific processor or vault, Primer can seamlessly transfer these cards to the Primer Vault without interrupting service for your existing customers.

Import your existing vaulted cards

You may have customer cards stored with a specific processor or vault already; Primer can facilitate the transfer of these cards to the Primer Vault, so there will be zero interruption of service for your existing customers.

Accept more payment methods 

Primer functions independently from your underlying payment processor, meaning you can have one vault for all your customers’ card details. This reduces complexity as you scale and allows you to offer the same customer experience no matter the underlying processor used. 

Optimize recurring payment success rates 

Primer will intelligently store payment data returned from your underlying processors to ensure the highest likelihood of success for recurring payments. This includes SCA authentication data and network transaction IDs as well as other data returned from card schemes and acquirers.

Keep card details current

Expired or replaced cards cause churn and impact your bottom line, so having up-to-date card details is critical.  

Primer’s unified vault keeps customer card details up-to-date with the integration of network tokenization services. This reduces the chances of payment failures for merchant-initiated payments and, therefore, maximizes your revenue.   

Primer is so much more than a vault

Unlike many vault providers, Primer’s vault comes with all the other tools we offer to help merchants optimize, manage, and accept payments. 

This includes our 360-view of payments performance, which enables anyone on your team to pinpoint areas for improvement to maximize revenue. Plus, our scalable solution facilitates global expansion so you can enter new markets faster. 

Final thoughts 

Handling customer credit card data securely and streamlining transactions are two of the biggest challenges for merchants. 

Credit card vaulting addresses both these pain points while simultaneously opening growth opportunities for merchants and fostering customer confidence. 

Want to learn more about how Primer can help your business? Get in touch with our payment experts.

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