How to Dispute Credit Card Charges

by Barry Choi September 12, 2015 / No Comments

You’re looking at your credit card statement—you do check every statement, right?—and something looks a bit off. You don’t remember making a certain purchase, or you’re reminded of a purchase you made that never arrived.

What do you do? Dispute it, of course!

Known as a chargeback, your credit card company will assist you if there’s a transaction to dispute or if you’re a victim of fraud. If you follow good practices, getting a refund can be easy.

Disputing credit card charges usually happens for the following reasons:

  • Double charges when you only bought a single item
  • Getting charged for something you didn’t buy
  • You were charged the incorrect amount
  • Your refund wasn’t issued properly
  • Items purchased were damaged
  • Items purchased were not delivered at all.

Talk to the merchant

The easiest way to get a refund is to simply contact the merchant where you made the original purchase. It may have been an honest mistake if you were charged twice, or if your refund wasn’t issued. Most merchants will happily fix their error assuming you have proof. The same applies to any product you have purchased that you’re not happy with; the store return policy takes precedent so ask for an exchange or refund before calling your credit card company.

This of course is only possible if you made your purchase at a physical store. If you’re disputing an online order it can be a little trickier since you’ll need to build a case with supporting evidence.

Keep a record

Having a paper trail is essential when disputing credit card charges and it starts at the time of purchase. Hang onto all you receipts; these are essential if you’re looking to make a refund, but more importantly it’s proof of the amount you’ve agreed to pay. If the receipt you have clearly shows a different amount from what you were charged, it’ll be pretty easy to win your claim.

It’s also good to have all the paperwork in place in case you need to escalate your claim beyond the merchant. Your credit card provider is required to conduct their own investigation so they’re going to ask you for all the documentation you have. I’m not talking about just receipts here; if you’re disputing something with an online merchant, be ready to send any emails about your complaint to your credit card provider. If you’ve talked to customer service over the phone, be sure log the name of the person you spoke with and at what time.

Make your claim right away

If talking to the merchant isn’t getting you anywhere then you should make a complaint with your credit card company immediately. Generally speaking you have 30 days to make a complaint, but if you’re making a dispute about an online order that never arrived, the 30-day window applies from the time of the expected delivery date.

Pay off your balance

It’s a good idea to make your claim before paying your bill, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore paying that charge altogether. Interest and late payment charges wait for no one, so pay the full balance on time while you wait for the outcome of your dispute. It’s possible that your credit card provider will issue you a temporary credit but that’s not guaranteed.

Final word

Disputing credit card charges is more common than you think; fortunately one of the benefits of using credit is the zero liability policy. If you truly were a victim of fraud, you will be refunded. The key to winning your dispute is to act quickly and to have your supporting evidence ready.

Flickr: frankieleon

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