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Credit Cards

How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

No one likes spending more than anticipated or buying a product that doesn’t live up to their expectations. So when you notice an unfamiliar or incorrect charge on your credit card statement, it’s an unpleasant surprise. Whether you think it’s a sign of fraud or a simple mistake, you’re determined to resolve the issue ASAP. 

Thanks to the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), you can dispute mistaken or fraudulent charges as soon as you notice them. If your situation falls under certain circumstances, you can dispute a credit card charge with the merchant or the credit card company. 

Continue reading to learn when and how to dispute a credit card charge if you notice a mistake on your statement. 

In this guide:

Reasons to dispute a credit card charge

Credit card fraud seems to get more attention in the news, but it’s not the only item to look out for when reviewing your statements. 

Common reasons you might dispute a credit card charge include the following:  

  • Unauthorized charges to your card. If you don’t recognize a charge or notice unauthorized charges on your statement, you can and should dispute it.
  • Incorrect amount charged. Mistakes can happen when a merchant runs your card. You could file a dispute if a merchant charged you the wrong amount for a service or product.
  • Getting charged twice. If you notice a double charge on your statement, you can dispute it. 
  • Not receiving credit for a return. You can file a dispute if you don’t get a credit to your account after returning an item or requesting a refund. 
  • Not receiving items you paid for. You can file a dispute if you order a product or service and never get it. You can also dispute a charge if an item is sent to the wrong address. 
  • Receiving damaged items. You can dispute the charge if a product you purchased arrives broken or damaged.
  • Services or products not provided as claimed. You may be able to dispute a charge you willingly paid for if the seller didn’t provide services as claimed. In this case, the more evidence you can gather to support your claim, the better.

On the other hand, you can’t dispute a charge in many circumstances.

The following situations don’t warrant a dispute—and if you file one, it’s unlikely to be successful:

  • You don’t like the service or product. If you get what you paid for in good faith, you can’t dispute a charge because you didn’t like the product or service. However, you may want to contact the vendor anyway. It might offer an exchange, credit, or discount on your next purchase. 
  • You experienced minor issues with service. You’ll have difficulty disputing charges for minor inconveniences, such as the restaurant bill you paid after waiting for a table on a busy night. This is another instance that might warrant a chat with the manager. They might offer a partial credit on your bill for the inconvenience.

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

How to dispute a credit card charge

When disputing a credit card charge, you must take the right steps and act within the allotted time frame for credit card disputes. It’s also important to keep up with false or fraudulent charges by reviewing statements as soon as you get them. 

Note: Disputing a charge may vary by credit card issuer and reason. Below you’ll find the general process for filing three types of disputes.

Dispute type 1: Fraudulent charges

If you notice a fraudulent charge on your credit card statement, take immediate action. 

First, ensure you or another authorized user didn’t make the charge. If you’re confident it was unauthorized, contact your credit card company to alert it.

Contacting your credit card company as soon as possible is important. According to the FCBA, you have 60 days to dispute the charge. 

Regarding fraud protection, the FCBA only protects purchases of $50 or more. However, many credit card issuers protect you for any amount if you file a dispute within the allotted time. 

Dispute type 2: Billing errors

If you notice a billing error on your statement, send a dispute to your credit card company in writing. Ensure your issuer receives your dispute within 60 days of the charge appearing on your statement. 

You can dispute a charge online or via certified mail to confirm and document that it arrived in time. The credit card issuer has 30 days to contact you unless it has already resolved the problem. It has 90 days to resolve the issue.

Dispute type 3: Quality of goods or services

If you’re disputing a charge for other reasons, such as the quality of goods or services not provided as claimed, start by contacting the merchant. By law, you must attempt to resolve the issue with the merchant before filing a dispute with your issuer. Many consumers are unaware of this important step.

Review the details on your statement, and then try to resolve your dispute with the merchant. Keep a paper trail of your communication with the merchant while resolving the issue. 

If the merchant is willing to fix the issue, you don’t need to follow up with your credit card company. But if it doesn’t correct the charge, contact your issuer within 60 days of getting your statement. This is where your paper trail will come in handy.

Credit card companies’ policies to dispute charges

Dispute policies, though similar, may vary by credit card company. 

Below are highlights of popular card issuers’ dispute policies:

  • Citibank: You can dispute a charge on your Citibank card over the phone or online under your “account details” page. 
  • Bank of America: You can dispute a charge online, via mobile app, over the phone, or in writing. Most disputes must be filed within 60 days of appearing on your statement. 
  • Wells Fargo: Dispute a charge on your Wells Fargo card by launching an investigation through your online account or by speaking to a customer service representative over the phone. 
  • American Express: The easiest way to initiate a dispute with American Express is by using your online account and navigating to “Inquiry and Dispute Center” under the “Account Services” menu. Customers usually have 120 days from the transaction date to dispute a charge. 
  • Chase: If you notice a fraudulent charge on your statement, call the number on the back of your card. For other disputes, write to Chase, or file a dispute through your online account within 60 days of the transaction appearing on your statement. 
  • Capital One: Call customer service, or file a dispute online using your Capital One account. You can often dispute a charge up to 60 days after the charge posts to your statement. 

These major credit card issuers offer zero liability protection, meaning you won’t be liable for any fraudulent charges—even if they’re under the FCBA’s $50 limit.

What happens after you dispute a credit card charge?

If you dispute an unauthorized charge on your credit card, you’ll often get a quick resolution. Your credit card company will remove the fraudulent charge, cancel the card, and send you a new one. After resolving the issue with your credit card company, you can file a police report. 

When disputing other charges with your credit card company, follow up on the status of your dispute to ensure the company received your letters or documentation. It has 30 days to acknowledge your dispute and 90 days to resolve the issue. 

If your credit card company agrees with you and recognizes the disputed charge is wrong, it will explain the changes it will make to your account. Then it will remove the disputed charges and any earned interest penalties attributed to the charge from your account.  

>>Read more: How do credit cards work?

What if your dispute is unsuccessful?

If the issuer determines the disputed charge isn’t a mistake, it will tell you in writing how much you owe and when it’s due. Pay close attention because if you disagree with the decision, you generally have just 10 days to appeal the decision. 

You can appeal by writing back and stating you don’t plan to pay for the disputed charge. Let the vendor know you will be filing a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and do so immediately. Keep track of all your correspondence

However, if you choose to appeal, your credit card issuer can start collection procedures. 

We recommend you check their statements as soon as you get them, and if you need to dispute charges, do it right away, so you don’t miss the window of opportunity for the dispute process.