ARN - Who can trace?

I am being bounced between SkyBet and Starling with regards a missing withdrawal. SkyBet process withdrawals as refunds to card but the money has never arrived. They have provided me with an ARN which they say my bank can use to trace the payment but Starling say they cannot do so. Sky won’t budge and say it’s not their problem. Can anyone clarify who can actually trace ARNs?

Thanks in advance!!

The Acquirer Reference Number proves that the payment has gone through on SkyBet’s end.

Some banks refuse to trace a payment using an ARN with the ‘we can’t do it’ Yes they can. SkyBet can’t do a trace themselves, they would have to go through the acquirer they use who would then go to Starling to trace it, its a long process and not something that they will do, with an ARN its down to the bank to trace.

The easiest solution would to be to escalate it with Starling, the payments team will have complete access to trace the ARN because its often used in the chargebacks and the recovery process, so they will know what it is, and how to use it.

So in answer to your question, Sky are correct.


Hmmm…this is really annoying. Starling told me in chat and via twitter that they are unable to trace using an ARN. Is it just a case of asking the CS rep to escalate it to the payments team?

Forgot to say - thanks for replying and clarifying!

Customer Service staff in banks generally have no idea what an ARN is, its only used by certain departments, that will be generally the payments team, anything that is not allocated to your account but goes through to the bank with an ARN sits in a dormant account at Starling, only certain people will be able to access and trace that money.

If they refuse to help, just say you want to make an official complaint about it. Starling under the policy they use will reply in 3 days, but I reckon it will take less than that, after all they all work in the same office so its not that hard to walk over to someone in the payments team.

It happens a lot with banks refusing to trace using an ARN, not sure why, its a simple process compared to some other processes they do.


Thanks a lot :+1:

ARN, TRN, RRN, all payment references should be searchable by the bank. It’s the quickest and most effective reference to locate a payment.


Just an update to this. I am still waiting to hear back from Starling. it’s been a week now :frowning:

Not good for you.

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I would probably be looking to escalate this as part of their complaints procedure at this point. Somebody doesn’t seem to be doing their job.


You definitely need to go down the complaints route, an ARN check doesn’t take a week, even if they have to go to other parties.


Realised it’s actually 6 days so will give them until tomorrow lunchtime then escalate it

If you have twitter, tweet them, if it public they’re more likely to reply, especially if it’s negative. It used to work on the old community.

I did tweet them and they told me they can’t trace using an ARN!!

Make sure your next message includes the word ‘complaint’ and if it isn’t resolved you can later escalate to the ombudsman (even though Starling don’t always tell you).


Maybe someone should actually tell Starling who issues the ARN, which is actually themselves. Natwest explain it very simply to their own customers.

Mastercard explain the process

Step 5 is where an ARN is issued, and its by Starling in this case.


So in a refund who is the acquirer? I assumed it would be Starling in my case?

It’s actually totally irrelevant who it is. But it will always be the bank who issued your card.

When Mastercard send the transaction to your bank, the bank give Mastercard an ARN, Mastercard give that to the merchants acquirer who originally sent the payment request to Mastercard, that is why its called an Acquirer Reference Number.

So if you query a payment with a merchant they will check the system they use and it will show them a reference number given to them by the acquirer, so the ARN. They then give that to you if you are saying the payment hasn’t gone through. In banking terms a refund is a payment, it goes through exactly the same process. The merchant processes a refund through the acquirer, who then refer it to Mastercard, Mastercard contact the bank, the bank give Mastercard an ARN which then goes back to the acquirer.


Thanks for all the info - I now know way too much info about ARNs! As I said I will contact Starling again tomorrow to raise it as a complaint now.


Hi Neil,
I’m going through the exact same process you went through!
Did you manage to get your money in the end? And did the bank finally sort it out for you?

Would appreciate a reply, thanks :slight_smile: