What is a Credit Card Chargeback?

What is a Credit Card Chargeback?

Written by Mark Gregorski
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated March 30, 2021

If you’re adamant about checking your credit card statement every month, you may discover a suspicious charge every once in a while. Seeing an unfamiliar transaction can be scary. You may fear the worst, that someone has stolen your identity or gained access to your credit card details. There’s also the possibility that a merchant has unfairly charged you or that the transaction is simply an error. But until you investigate, you won’t know for sure.

Luckily, you can dispute questionable transactions that appear on your credit card statement and have them removed if necessary. This type of correction is called a chargeback.

What is a Credit Card Chargeback? 

A credit card chargeback is a reversal of a credit card transaction. The reversal is done by your credit card issuer (the financial institutions that you hold your account with). Chargebacks act as safeguards to protect consumers from fraudulent transactions or purchases where the merchant failed to deliver on their obligation.

The Big Five Chargeback Policies

Each credit card issuer has its own chargeback policy. Below is an overview of the most common ones.

Check out which of the big five you should bank with.

BankChargeback PolicyCustomer Service Number
TD BankSubmit a dispute request within 60 days of credit card statement closing date1-800-983-8472
RBC Bank– Submit a dispute request through your online banking by selecting the transaction and clicking the “Investigate This Item” link to send a message. 
– Alternatively, you can send a secure email to customers service through the Online Banking Message Centre
ScotiabankSubmit a dispute request by directly calling Scotiabank1-800-504-0716
BMO BankSubmit a dispute request within 30 days of credit card closing date1-800-263-2263
CIBCSubmit a dispute request within 30 days of credit card closing date1-800-465-4653

Thinking of switching providers? Check out how to close your bank account.

Reasons to Ask For a Credit Card Chargeback

There are various reasons you may ask for a credit card chargeback: 

  • Unauthorized Transactions: These are transactions that weren’t initiated by you or anyone else listed on your card as an authorized user
  • Bad deliveries: Cases were purchased items weren’t delivered or arrived damaged, defective, or not as advertised.
  • Incorrect charges: Instances where you were overcharged, charged for goods or services you never purchased, or charged for a subscription you cancelled. 

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The Process of a Credit Card Chargeback

If you’ve spotted a transaction on your credit card statement that you feel should not be there, there’s a series of steps you can take to have it removed. The process for a credit card chargeback is explained below.

Step 1: File a dispute

If attempts to reverse the transaction by contacting the merchant have failed, you can file a dispute to get a chargeback.

The process for submitting a chargeback request varies depending on who your card issuer is. You can initiate the dispute online, over the phone, or in-person at your issuer’s local branch.

Being prepared is crucial if you want to increase your chance of receiving a chargeback. Gather as much evidence as possible to support your claim. Relevant evidence may include:

  • Receipts
  • The merchant’s name and contact details
  • Email correspondences between you and the merchant
  • Delivery tracking information
  • Website screenshots that show the price, product image, refund policy, promotional flyer, etc.

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Step 2 – Wait for your bank to review it

Once you submit your request for processing, you must wait for your bank to investigate your claim. They’ll review your case and decide if it has merit. If they determine that your request is valid, they’ll transfer it to your credit card network.

The credit card company will review the transaction to determine who’s responsible for paying it. They’ll either require your bank to pay the balance or forward the details to the bank of the merchant you purchased from. Should the latter decision occur, the merchant’s bank may accept responsibility for the transaction and agree to pay it. However, they may also dispute the charge and send it to the merchant for them to settle. The process continues until one party agrees to bear responsibility for the transaction. Still, the credit card company ultimately decides who must pay.

Step 3 – Approved vs. denied

Once the investigation is complete, your chargeback request will either be approved or denied. 

If it’s approved, your creditor will provide you with an explanation of the correction and credit your account accordingly. 

If it’s denied, you’ll be responsible for paying the balance like any regular purchase, along with any interest that accrued during the dispute process. Should you disagree with the decision, you can appeal to your creditor in writing, explaining why you don’t think you should have to pay the disputed amount. 

If you refuse to pay the transaction, however, it can negatively impact your credit rating

Things to Remember When Asking For a Credit Card Chargeback

Reversing a credit card charge can be a painfully slow and complicated process. Follow these tips to ensure things go as smooth as possible:

Act Fast

When you discover a suspicious item on your credit card statement, don’t hesitate and investigate it right away. Credit card companies usually have strict policies that give you a limited window of opportunity in which you can file a chargeback request (anywhere from 30 to 90 days). After that, you’re out of luck. 

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Be Prepared

Good preparation is vital when it comes to securing a chargeback. Therefore, ensure you assemble all the necessary evidence to bolster your claim. The more, the better. Evidence may include receipts, delivery tracking screenshots, and detailed logs of conversations you had with the merchant’s customer service representatives.

Check out what you should do if you lost your credit card overseas

Call Your Merchant

Before filing a dispute, ensure you’ve taken reasonable measures to resolve the issue with the merchant. Most card issuers will encourage you to work with the merchant to address any disputed charges before processing your chargeback request.

The merchant charged your card in error, or your order was lost or delayed due to unforeseen circumstances. If you speak with the merchant calmly and rationally, they’ll usually be more than willing to refund your money. They may also remedy the situation in another manner, such as offering a replacement item or store credit.

For charges that originate from subscription services, confirm that you cancelled your membership and disabled the auto-renew feature on your account before your renewal date. 

Looking for a credit card with purchase protection and other insurance? Check out these credit cards for mobile device insurance and more.

Don’t Ignore Your Bill

While your chargeback request is being processed, don’t assume you can simply ignore the disputed transaction. Pay the amount on time, as there’s no assurance of an outcome in your favour. If the charge remains on your card, you’re responsible for paying it, along with any interest and fees that accumulate.

Credit Card Chargeback FAQs

How long do I have to dispute a credit card charge?

You usually have 60 days to file your dispute. However, some credit card companies only allow you 30 days, so it’s better to err on the side of caution and file sooner rather than later.

Will I get my money back if I dispute a charge?

Yes and no. If the disputed transaction is an apparent overpayment or the result of fraud, you’re pretty much guaranteed to win and have the charge reversed. However, during the investigation process, the credit card company may discover that your claim isn’t legitimate. For example, suppose the merchant offers to replace a damaged item. In that case, they will deem the action to be a fair resolution and deny your chargeback claim. Remember, chargebacks aren’t guaranteed – it’s possible your initial assumption about the transaction was wrong, or you failed to provide sufficient evidence to back up your argument.

Will disputing a charge on my credit card affect my credit?

No, disputing a charge on your credit card will not affect your credit score. However, if your credit card company verifies the disputed transaction as valid, your credit score could be impacted if you choose to ignore it.

Bottom Line

Disputing a credit card charge can be a massive headache, especially if multiple parties become involved, resulting in an endless back-and-forth.

Your best bet is to rectify the issue by contacting the merchant and explaining your case. Should that fail, immediately contact your bank to file a formal dispute. Ensure you submit every form of evidence you can find to strengthen your claim – doing so will increase your chances of winning your claim. Once that’s done, all you have to do is wait for the verdict.

Rating of 5/5 based on 2 votes.

Mark is a writer who specializes in writing content for companies in the financial services industry. He has written articles about personal finance, mortgages, and real estate and is passionate about educating people on how to make smart financial decisions. Mark graduated from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology with a degree in finance and has more than ten years' experience as an accountant. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing poker, going to the gym, composing music, and learning about digital marketing.

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