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Credit Cards

How to Dispute An American Express Credit Card Charge

Updated Mar 10, 2023   |   6-min read

Several years ago, I ordered a custom cabinet for my house and paid with my American Express card. Unfortunately, the merchant delivered a broken cabinet half the size of the one I’d ordered—and refused to give me back my money. Card member disputes for various goods/services aren’t entirely uncommon, but the dispute process can vary from company to company.

Fortunately, American Express (Amex) made it easy to dispute the charge and recover my lost funds. I just had to file an inquiry online, provide documentation of the problem, and wait for the merchant to respond. When American Express reviewed the information provided, they found in my favor, and American Express refunded me the money.

If you have a charge on your credit card that wasn’t authorized, or if you were charged for a product or service you either didn’t receive or that wasn’t up to par, you may be able to submit an American Express dispute on your Amex card. You just need to know the steps to take to successfully dispute charge card transactions and try to recover your lost funds.

Disputing a charge may be necessary due to a merchant mistake, if you were charged for a purchase you never received, or if your purchase was defective. It’s imperative you catch these problems when they happen and let American Express know you’re disputing the charge because it’s ultimately up to you to fight for the return of your funds when a charge was illegitimate for any reason.

The same holds true for other credit cards and companies including Mastercard and Visa.

Contact the Merchant First

You should check your American Express statement regularly to make sure you weren’t charged an incorrect amount or for purchases you didn’t make.

If you spot something wrong with your American Express account, the first step is always to contact the merchant before reaching out to American Express.

In many cases, merchants will correct the problem for you rather than having to contact the American Express company.

For example, if you charged food at a diner and left a $10 tip but were charged for a $100 tip, let the diner know. They should reverse the charge right away when you point out the problem, and you’ll never need to go through the hassle of dealing with American Express to dispute a credit card charge.

When the merchant cooperates, contacting them first is always the fastest way to get the problem of an unauthorized charge resolved. But not all merchants cooperate. Keep any correspondence and make note of when you asked the merchant to fix the issue. You can use this information later when you submit an Amex dispute with their customer service.

Contact American Express

If you can’t get the merchant to reverse your charge, you’ll need to contact American Express. But you’ll have to make sure you do this at the correct time. You can’t dispute a charge until it’s actually been posted, so you’ll need to wait if the charge is still pending. And you also can’t dispute a charge after 120 days have passed.

If you have a pending charge that you think will need to be disputed once it posts, you can sign into your transactions list on your online account and can sign up to receive an alert when the charge posts. That way, you can initiate your dispute ASAP.

Visiting your American Express online account is the best and easiest way not only to review charges and sign up for alerts when they post, but it’s also the simplest way to initiate a dispute. To get an American Express dispute started:

  • Sign into your online account
  • Visit “Account Services”
  • Select “Inquiry and Dispute Center” from the side menu
  • Click on “Open a Billing or Payment Dispute

Once you’re in the Inquiry and Dispute Center, you can choose to open a billing dispute when there’s a charge on your card that you do not recognize or that you believe is incorrect. If you already have a dispute open, you can click on “Manage My Dispute” to see the status. However, American Express indicates there’s a difference between a dispute and fraud.

>> Read More: Protecting Yourself From Credit Card Fraud

A dispute occurs when you think a merchant may have mischarged you or when you didn’t get products or services you bought. Fraudulent charges should be handled differently and may require additional information. Fraud is an unauthorized use of your card. If you suspect fraud, you should call 1-800-528-4800 immediately.

Providing the Information Necessary to Dispute Your Charge

After clicking on Open a Billing Dispute, you’ll be presented with a list of recent activity. If you have no charges posted within 120 days, you won’t see any transactions you can open an inquiry about. If you have recent transactions, you can select which charges you’re disputing.

Next, you’ll be asked to provide supporting documentation to demonstrate why you believe the charge was improper. For example, if you were delivered defective merchandise, Amex may want to see a picture of the item you received. If you tried to tip $10 but were charged $100, Amex will want to see the credit card slip.

The more information you can provide to American Express, the greater the chances your dispute will be a successful one. The merchant is also provided with notification of your dispute and is given the chance to provide their own supporting info showing that you were charged properly or that you received the products and services you paid for.

Amex will decide who makes the most credible case about the legitimacy of the charge.

Waiting for the Results of Your Amex Dispute

American Express indicates most disputes resolve within a month; however, others take more time. You do not have to pay for the disputed item while the charge is under review.

If you work things out with the merchant during the dispute, you can cancel the dispute at any time in the Inquiry and Dispute Center in your online account.

If American Express finds that the charge was improper, it will be reversed, along with any interest you paid on the charge.

Check Your Statement Regularly and Dispute Improper Charges Quickly

While disputed charges can be a pain, American Express makes the process easy. It’s up to you to check your credit card statement regularly so you’ll notice problems and can take swift action.

If you do and provide Amex the right information, the card company will take care of you and you won’t have to pay for charges you didn’t make, products or services that were defective, or items you never received.