Credit Cards

Purchases made on plastic add up more quickly than you think.

How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge & Get a Chargeback

by Kevin Sun

The first time I got double charged for something I bought with my credit card, I thought that fixing the issue would be as easy as just telling the store to reverse it. However, when they refused to refund me because of “technical issues,” I found myself now having to file a dispute with my credit card company. After emails, phone calls, an agreement I had to print and sign, and more emails, I finally got the charge reversed. While my bank was very friendly and professional throughout the process, I was surprised at how much time and effort it took to get just $30 of my money back.

Of course, had it been $3000 – which it could have been if I was trying to get a plane ticket refunded – my feelings would be very different.  Disputing incorrect credit card charges is a valuable tool to help protect our hard-earned cash, and learning the rules around it now could save you a lot of money and frustration later on. Here’s an overview of how to get a credit card chargeback in Canada:

Frequently Asked Questions about Disputing Credit Card Charges & Chargebacks

Can I dispute a credit card charge I willingly paid for?

Yes. After all, just because you chose to pay for something doesn’t mean you got what you paid for. However, you’ll have to make your case to your credit card company and provide evidence to support it.

Can you dispute a credit card charge after 90 days?

Most creditors won’t allow you to dispute a credit card charge after 90 days have passed. Most will have deadlines between 30-60 days. Check with your creditor for their specific requirements.

Can I dispute a non-refundable charge?

Yes, but only for certain reasons. For example, if it’s a fraudulent charge, then you can dispute it regardless of whether it’s non-refundable or not. Another common reason is getting double-charged by mistake.

Can I dispute a charge if I’m trying to return an item after the return/exchange policy has expired?

You can try, but it probably won’t work unless you have a very good reason for it. Your creditor will consider all evidence while reviewing your dispute, including the fact that you didn’t return the item during the merchant’s return window.

What should I do if I don’t recognize a charge?

If you’re not sure about a charge you see on your credit card statement and you can’t find your receipt or online invoice, call the credit card company and tell them that. They can ask the merchant for more information. This isn’t a dispute quite yet, just a clarification. But make sure to pay the bill in the meantime, in case it’s yours.

How long does the dispute process take?

It may take days, weeks, or even months. A good rule of thumb is that disputes under $100 will generally be pretty quick and those over can last much longer. You can help the process finish faster by quickly providing any info your creditor asks for.

What happens if you falsely dispute a credit card charge?

There are many potential consequences for people who lie in a credit card dispute. When its caught, there will be no chance for the money to be returned. The merchant may blacklist the person who lied in the dispute, and the credit card company might cancel the cardholder’s account (this would make the whole bill due immediately). In extreme cases, the merchant or creditor might also sue for damages.

Does disputing a charge hurt my credit score?

No. When disputing a large amount, there may be a note on your credit report to show that there’s a dispute, but this won’t affect your score. However, if the dispute fails and you don’t pay what you owe, then that will damage your score.

Review Your Credit Card Statement Regularly

Reviewing your credit card statement regularly will help you find any charge you need to dispute before the deadline to do so passes. Most creditors require you to start the process within 30-60 days of the statement date (check your cardholder agreement for the exact requirements). If you miss this deadline, then you can no longer ask to have the charge reversed. That’s why it’s a good habit to carefully review every credit card statement you get.

If you want to make it easy for yourself to watch for incorrect charges, then recording your spending with an expense tracker helps organize your finances so that you don’t have to remember everything you bought. With a quick glance, you can see if the number on your tracker for that month matches the number on your credit card statement. If they don’t, then you can start digging to find the reason why.

Know Why You’re Disputing a Credit Card Charge

If you do find a charge on your credit card that shouldn’t be there, figure out why that might have happened before taking further action. If you got double charged or charged more than you should have, then the merchant might have made the error. However, if you see a charge you don’t recognize at all or one from a store you never bought from before, then it may be a fraudulent charge. If you suspect a fraudulent charge, then immediately call your credit card company to report this and follow their instructions. You should also further protect yourself by changing all of your pin codes and passwords (even the ones that have nothing to do with your credit card). Finally, pull your latest credit report for free to check for any other suspicious activity.

5 Ways to Help Protect Your Money from Scams and Fraud

Disputing a Credit Card Charge

Contact the Merchant that Billed Your Credit Card

If you’re disputing a charge that you think is the merchant’s fault, then you should try to work things out with the merchant before going to your creditor. If a billing error is the problem, then the merchant will likely be happy to fix it for you. If you’re disputing because you didn’t get what you paid for, then they might offer a solution. Keep records of all communication so that if talking with them doesn’t work out, you can give your creditor proof of what happened.

Contact Your Credit Card Company

Every creditor has their own process for handling credit card disputes and following their instructions is key to successfully getting your money back. Many will have you login to your online account to fill out a dispute form. If this doesn’t work for you or you’re not sure how to start, then call the customer service number on the back of your card.

After your creditor looks at your dispute request, it’s possible that they’ll contact you to ask for more details and specific evidence to support your argument. Thinking ahead and collecting this evidence before they ask for it will make you better prepared and more likely to succeed. For example, if you bought an item online and didn’t get sent what was promised, then evidence for your dispute might include:

  • The item receipt.
  • Screenshots of the item’s store page and the merchant’s return policy.
  • Photos or videos showing how the item you got doesn’t match what’s promised on the store page.
  • Communication records showing that the merchant refused to refund you.

After reviewing the evidence provided by both you and the merchant, the creditor will make their decision. Keep in mind that whether you’re contacting your creditor about debt or about a dispute, it’s always in your best interest to be polite and professional.

Pay Your Credit Card Bill

A credit card dispute can take anywhere from days to even weeks or months to be resolved. While it’s processing, the disputed charge will likely be frozen, meaning that you don’t have to pay it and won’t be charged interest on it (make sure you check this with your credit card company). However, the rest of your credit card bill still needs to be paid as usual. If you do pay the disputed charge and it ends up getting reversed, you’ll see a credit on your statement.

Wondering if you should just pay the charge now in case the dispute doesn’t work? If it’s for a small amount that you don’t need anytime soon, then paying it might give more peace of mind in case you’re worried about forgetting later. However, if there’s any chance at all that you’ll need it, then you should hold onto the money. Being prepared for unexpected expenses is far more important than a bit of convenience.

If Needed, Get Help with Your Credit Card Debt While Your Dispute Is Processing

Disputing a credit card charge can be especially stressful when you’re already struggling with debt. However, though your dispute will take time, you can start working on getting out of debt right now. One way to do that is to speak with one of our non-profit credit counsellors in a free and confidential appointment. Your counsellor would be happy to help you review your financial situation and find ways to get back on track. Give us a call at 1-888-527-8999, send us an email, or chat with us anonymously online today.

Struggling with credit card debt?

Get answers from an expert.

Trying to pay off your credit card debt can feel overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. One of our professional credit counsellors would be happy to review your finances with you, work with you on making a solid budget for successfully repaying your debt, or work you on special debt repayment solutions if they fit your situation. Speaking with our certified counsellors is always free and confidential. 

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