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Credit Cards

Can You Dispute a Credit Card Charge You Willingly Paid For?

Updated Mar 10, 2023   |   7-min read

At the end of every billing cycle, you probably review your monthly credit card statement to make sure everything looks familiar. Typically, if you notice fraudulent purchases, you can report credit card fraud to your credit card issuer and receive prompt assistance. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

But other times, you may notice a charge you made in good faith, but the good or service didn’t live up to its potential.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Fortunately, even in the second scenario, you do have rights. If you or an authorized user paid for a product or service and never received what you paid for, you can dispute charges and get your money back — though it may be an uphill battle.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

The key to success is knowing your rights and having evidence.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

On this page:

When Can You Dispute a Credit Card Charge?​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

In theory, you can dispute any charge on your credit card statement. In part, this right can be attributed to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FBCA), which offers consumers some protection against things like billing errors, be they malicious or otherwise. Under this act, consumers can dispute fraudulent or unauthorized charges, or charges for the wrong amount.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

>> Read More: How to protect yourself from credit card fraud

In a digital age when cyber-attacks are increasingly aggressive, many consumers can leverage this right to recoup funds that would otherwise be lost. You can make a case for being defrauded when the product or the service you received didn’t live up to your expectations.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

>> Read More: Can you dispute a credit card charge for bad service?

Though the ability to dispute such a charge can vary by case, the FCBA also allows consumers to dispute credit card charges for goods or services that were not received or that were not received as agreed upon.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Keep in mind that though you can dispute a charge, you may not always get your money back, particularly if it’s difficult for the credit card company to prove that the merchant is at fault. Additionally, you typically need to file your complaint within 60 days of the credit card purchase, unless the good or service is guaranteed.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

In addition to knowing your rights, it’s also important that you regularly monitor your credit card statement and familiarize yourself with the policies that govern your relationship with the credit card issuer. Many credit card companies are transparent about their dispute policies by providing an outline of the process as well as what’s expected from the consumer, like disputing the charge within a certain amount of time or providing documentation to support a claim.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

If you do plan on disputing a charge, it’s best to have evidence of the error or issue. For fraudulent purchases, this may be as simple as citing a transaction that happened in one location when you were in another, or proof that the transaction took place without the card. ​​​​​​​​​​​​

In other circumstances, you may need to prove that the purchase didn’t live up to an agreement or widely-held expectation. For example, you may present a contract if you put a deposit down for work on your home, but the contractor never finished the job.​​​​​​​​​​​​

How Do You Dispute a Credit Card Charge?​​​​​​​​​​​​

Before you even think about disputing a charge you willingly made, you need to review the merchant’s return policy and try to work with them to resolve the issue. Too many credit card chargebacks will hurt their ability to work with credit card companies, so businesses will often work with you to resolve the issue. ​​​​​​​​​​​​

Only after you’ve tried and failed to settle your complaint with the product provider should you begin the dispute process.​​​​​​​​​​​​

The process of disputing a charge varies based on the credit card provider and their unique processes. The following are some general things to know.​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • If you feel you need to dispute a claim, it’s best to contact your credit card issuer’s customer service center to determine the best way to do so. They can also help offer guidance should you need to gather documentation or other information relative to your claim. ​​​​​​​​​​​​
  • Leading credit card companies, like American Express and Capital One, both offer consumers the opportunity to file a dispute online. Their cardholders also reserve the right to file a claim over the phone or send a dispute in writing.​​​​​​​​
  • Similarly, Chase also provides the same primary dispute methods, but in some cases, they will even foster a conference call with the merchant to try to expedite the dispute.  ​​​​​​​​
  • If you are planning on disputing a charge, you’ll likely need to do so within two billing cycles, or 60 days, as most card issuers have a strict policy as to how long you have to dispute a charge. The longer you wait, the harder it may be to get the charge removed. ​​​​​​​​
  • If more than 60 days have passed, you may still be able to dispute the original charge, but you’ll need to thoroughly review your agreement as well as the credit card company’s policies.  ​​​​​​​​

With that in mind, when submitting a dispute for a charge you willingly made, it’s important to keep any documentation that proves that the product or service is faulty and that any efforts to reach a resolution with the merchant have failed. Keep copies of contracts, agreements, emails, and written correspondence and keep track of who you spoke to, when, and what the outcome of that interaction was.​​​​​​​​

For example, if you used your credit card to pay for a car repair that didn’t fix the problem, then you may want to consider getting a second opinion in writing. If your refund was pending the return of a product, always get proof of the return via tracking numbers or certified mail. The more information you gather, the easier it will be to have the disputed charge reversed, be it via the credit card company or the merchant.​​​​​​​​

What Else Should I Know About Disputing Credit Card Charges?​​​​​​​​

Many of today’s credit card companies are more than willing to work with consumers, particularly when disputes occur due to fraudulent activity, but disputing a charge based on the quality of a good or service can be more difficult.​​​​​​​​

Keep in mind that disputes, particularly those for a willingly purchased good or service, will require an investigation on your behalf. Even if the dispute ends up in your favor, judgments and reversals are rarely immediate and you may need to wait from 30 to 60 days for the card issuer to complete their investigation. This is another reason that many credit card companies suggest that customers first contact the merchant before submitting a formal dispute.​​​​​​​​

Bottom Line​​​​​​​​

As a consumer, you have the right to dispute credit card charges, though typically only specific infractions will be remedied. While fraudulent and unauthorized purchases are frequently grounds for a dispute, some consumers may also find that lack of quality or another issue with the merchant represents reasonable cause for a dispute.​​​​​​​​

Before you begin a dispute, it’s important that you gather all relevant information, including the dates, employees you engaged with, and any other information that would support your claim of unlawful charges. The more organized and prepared you are, the more likely you successfully remove the disputed charge.​​​​

Select an option below to learn more about how to dispute a credit card charge at a specific company: