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If you use credit cards regularly, there’s always a chance that you’ll need to return a purchase and get a refund. A similar thing might occur when there’s some sort of error in a company’s system or following identity theft. No matter the cause, obtaining a full refund is normally a great feeling because some money goes back into your pocket.

That said, keep in mind that you may have to wait a few days to receive that money. Find out how long a refund could take to appear on your credit card.

How Long Does A Credit Card Refund Take?

Unfortunately, there are no legal rules for how long a credit card refund can take. While most credit card refunds take 4 or 5 business days, it could actually take 2 to 90 days for a refund to show up on your credit card account. If more than 90 days go by without word from your credit card company, contact them and ask whether your refund is being withheld or disputed. 

You can also contact the merchant you’re trying to get a refund from to see if they’ve forgotten to process your refund or if there’s some technical issue. If your refund is being disputed by your merchant, you can request a chargeback with your credit card company. 

Types Of Credit Card Refunds

In Canada, you may encounter two kinds of credit card refunds:

Point-Of-Sale Or Merchant Refunds 

The most common way to get a refund is by asking for it during the validity period. Depending on whether you’ve made a purchase online or in-person, the method to request a refund may vary. 

  • Online Purchase – If you made the purchase online, you might have to request a refund that way too, as well as deal with a free or low-cost shipping process.
  • In-Person Purchase – Otherwise, you can go to the point-of-sale and get refunded directly. Simply bring the credit card you used to make the purchase, the receipt and the items you want to return. 

As mentioned, it can take 2 – 90 days for the refund to show up on your credit card and change your credit card balance. It’s best to pay your credit card balance while you wait for your refund in order to avoid any accumulation in interest. 

Disputed Transactions (a.k.a Chargeback)

If a vendor refuses to provide you with a refund, you can file a dispute with your credit card company to get a full or partial refund. The vendor then has around 30 days to respond, otherwise, the charges will be reversed (this is called ‘chargeback’). 

It could take several weeks or months to see the refund on your credit card account, during which the lender may freeze the interest on your disputed amount or use it to raise your available credit.    

Steps On How To Get A Refund In Canada

Here are 5 easy steps you can take to get a full refund or file a dispute for a chargeback: 

Step 1. Check The Refund Policy

It’s a good idea to read your merchant’s online or in-store refund policy before you buy from them. That way, you can know if your purchase will be eligible for a refund and the documents required to receive one.  

Step 2. Prepare All Documents And Evidence

To validate your refund, you’ll normally need your receipt, as well as copies of any other documents that help your case, including the item’s terms and conditions, fine print or email message chains.    

Step 3. Be Prepared

If you’re asking for a refund in-store, remember to bring the credit card you originally used, along with your receipt (or order number if it’s an online purchase) and other evidence. Some merchants also have safe ways of doing this online, by post or over the phone.      

Step 4. Finish The Refund And Signing Process

Just before they issue your refund, the vendor will ask you to sign one or more documents to confirm the transaction. These are more for their records but you should always ask for copies too.    

Step 5. Contact The Card Company For Any Issues

If a merchant refuses to issue a refund, contact the credit card provider right away to discuss potential solutions. If it’s within your grounds, you can then file a dispute and obtain a chargeback. 

Contact Information For Requesting A Refund Through Your Bank

Most of these credit card providers have an email support and/or online instant message system available on their website for general customer inquiries. You can also contact your bank to request a refund through these customer service lines: 

Credit Card ProviderCredit Card Service Number In Canada
American Express1-800-869-3016
ATB Financial1-800-332-8383
BMO1-800-361-3361
Capital One1-877-383-4802
CIBC1-800-465-4653
MBNA1-888-876-6262
PC Financial 1-866-246-7262
RBC1-800-769-2512
Scotiabank 1-800-472-6842
Tangerine 1-888-826-4374
TD 1-800-983-8472

What Happens If My Account Has A Zero Balance Following A Credit Card Refund?

In the event of a zero credit card balance, several things can occur after a refund, like:

  • If you pay your credit card bill down to $0 prior to a refund, a negative balance appears on your account. When you make other purchases in the future, that negative balance will be applied to them first, until you’ve used all the money.
  • If you have a large negative balance on a credit card that you don’t use very often, your credit card company might automatically send the amount to you by cheque. Otherwise, you may have to contact them directly to request this service.
  • If you have any unpaid purchases on your credit card account, the refund should lower your balance (or to zero if the refund and unpaid purchase is the same amount) after it’s been issued.

Credit Card Refund Policies Vary By Merchant

All credit card companies and merchants have different refund policies. Since both parties are involved in the process, the situation can take time but is usually pretty straightforward. For example, here’s how some popular merchants handle refunds: 

Home DepotIf you return a purchase by post, it may take a few days for Home Depot to process and issue you a refund. If you return it at a Home Depot store, however, your account should be credited immediately. Either way, your credit card account may only receive the refund around 2 – 10 business days later.   

Square
Square is an online payment service that offers Canadian businesses a variety of easy ways to accept and process customer payments. A refund takes around 2 to 7 business days to complete, plus another 2 to 7 days for it to appear on your credit card account (wait times vary according to the card issuer).
Kohl’sFor now, Kohl’s (an American retailer) only has one store in Canada. Although Canadians can’t buy or return items on the Kohl’s website (where only US residents and dollars are accepted), they’re able to visit the Kohl’s store in Ontario to shop and get refunds, which can take around 7 days to process.   
PayPalPayPal was one of the first money management services that allowed customers to create digital wallets, as well as send and receive payments. While wait times are again subject to the policies of your card provider, the average PayPal refund takes about 30 days to show up on your credit card account.
WalmartItems purchased* at Walmart can be returned within 90 days of purchase. It can take up to 10 business days to get a refund for debit and credit card purchases.
Canadian TireItems purchased* at Canadian Tire can be returned within 14 to 90 days of purchase. Returns are usually processed within 3-5 business days.
*Certain exceptions may apply

How Does A Credit Card Refund Work?

A refund doesn’t involve a direct bank deposit, as you’ll see with your debit card. Instead, the card provider adds the amount directly to your credit card balance, which should raise your available credit limit. This could take a bit of time due to the following:

  • When you make a credit card purchase, the provider agrees to buy it from the vendor on your behalf. You must then repay the provider on a monthly basis. 
  • If you ask for a valid refund, the vendor will have to send the amount back to the credit card company before they’re able to process and add it to your account.
  • The whole processing period can take several days or weeks, which is why you may only see your credit card balance affected at a later date.   

So, the fastest way to get a refund may be to visit the point-of-sale. Don’t forget your receipt and credit card if you do this. Since processing international payments is more expensive for the provider, they may not refund you for any foreign transaction fees that were added to your account following purchases you made outside the country.

Credit Card Refunds vs Chargebacks

When you request a valid refund, your credit card provider will transfer the total amount to your account. However, if you have to file a dispute to obtain your refund, the original purchase will probably be reversed using a lengthy process known as ‘chargeback’. 

Credit Card Refunds

Traditional refunds are issued by the merchant (unless they fall under your credit card’s return protection policies) and chargebacks are handled exclusively by the credit card company. Generally, you must file your dispute within 60 days of a purchase that you made but never received or a purchase you didn’t make (i.e. errors, cancellations, etc.).

Chargeback

If the chargeback is valid, the card company has 90 days to fix the issue and up to 150 days to reverse the charge. That means the refund may not appear on your account for a while, so watch out for your credit limit if you make other purchases during that time. 

Credit Card Refund FAQs

Why does it take so long for a credit card refund to post?

When you buy something with your credit card, the provider pays the merchant for it upfront. So, if you ask for a refund, the merchant must process your request and send the amount back to the provider. Since the card company also has a payment process to go through, it can take 2 to 90 days for them to post a refund (more if you dispute it). 

Why is my refund not showing up on my credit card account?

If a refund hasn’t appeared on your credit card statement yet, it still could be in transit between the merchant and your credit card company. Then again, it might be because of the merchant disputing or failing to honour the refund. So, if your refund hasn’t shown up after a few weeks, contact the merchant and card company for more information.  

Do credit card refunds affect my credit?

Although credit card refunds don’t have a direct impact on your credit, they may lower your credit utilization ratio, which can increase your credit scores. That can’t happen until your refund has been fully processed and submitted. To avoid the possible negative impact of a higher credit utilization ratio, keeping it at 30% or under is recommended.

What happens to rewards earned from a credit card purchase after it’s refunded?

To prevent people from cheating the system, most credit card issuers will revoke any rewards that you’ve earned on a purchase after a refund. This includes cash-back dollars, sign-up bonuses or other promotions. If you want to keep your rewards, you can ask for store credit instead and pay your credit card bill like you normally would. 

Not Sure If Your Purchase is Eligible For A Refund?  

Before you return a credit card purchase for a refund, read your merchant and credit card company’s policies carefully so you don’t waste your time. Who knows? There may be something you’re missing. If the refund is due to fraud, theft or an error made by the merchant or card provider, make sure to contact them immediately for a solution.    

Bryan Daly avatar on Loans Canada
Bryan Daly

Bryan is a graduate of Dawson College and Concordia University. He has been writing for Loans Canada for five years, covering all things related to personal finance, and aims to pursue the craft of professional writing for many years to come. In his spare time, he maintains a passion for editing, writing screenplays, staying fit, and travelling the world in search of the coolest sights our planet has to offer.

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