A Simple Guide to Understanding Credit Card Chargebacks

by : Scott Stadler

What is a chargeback and when does this happen?

In a nutshell, a chargeback is the process followed by a credit card issuer that reverses a charge and credits the account holder that amount. This is ultimately a protection offered to credit card holders that is often seen as a benefit or perk to paying with a credit card versus cash.

Through the chargeback process, the merchant that originally sent the charge through refunds the money if a reason for the refund is substantiated. A few of the scenarios that might require the chargeback process to be put to work include disputes over the products received (or lack thereof), errors in the amount charged, and charges that are fraudulent or deceptive.

So how does the chargeback process work?

1. If a cardholder has reason to believe that a charge should be revered, they must call the credit card issuer and explain the situation or contact them online by logging into the account center and filling out the appropriate form.

2. Usually, the credit card issuer will advise you to call the merchant first to have them reverse the charges and try to resolve the issue through that means. Other times, they'll take immediate action on your behalf.

3. When the merchant refuses to take action or reverse the charges directly, the credit card company will begin their own investigation into the matter and try to determine whether the charges should be considered legit or not from the standpoint of the cardholder.

4. If the charges are deemed incorrect or fraudulent, the credit card company will post a temporary credit to your account and then request to have the merchant's card processing bank refund the charges as necessary.

5. At this point, the merchant's bank will usually review the matters themselves to make sure the reasons are legit.

6. If they determine that the merchant's charge is indeed incorrect or fraudulent, they'll go ahead and refund the charge and the matter will be considered complete and final.

There is quite a bit of back and forth throughout the procedures and the chargeback process can end up taking quite a bit of time. Practicing patience is really the only option. While it is only right that both parties to the transaction get a fair chance at trying to resolve the matter and having their say, it's also good to know that most credit card issuers will go to bat for their cardholders when such a situation does arise from time to time.