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  • A chargeback is a charge returned to a payment card after a customer successfully disputes an item on their account statement or transactions report. A chargeback may occur on debit cards (and the underlying bank account) or on credit cards. Chargebacks can be granted to a cardholder for a variety of reasons.

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How do we understand chargebacks?

Chargebacks are done for charges that have been fully processed and settled. They must be reversed through an electronic process involving multiple entities. As a result, they can take several days to settle and return to the original account fully.

The chargeback process is similar across most credit card networks and issuing banks, with specific differences for each bank or network. A chargeback works from the issuing bank through the card network and to the merchant's acquiring bank. The merchant can decide to dispute the chargeback or accept it.

Chargebacks are a consumer protection tool that allows consumers to get their moneyback for fraudulent charges or purchases that don’t live up to standards by submitting a dispute with their card issuer.

If you notice a transaction on your credit card account that doesn’t look familiar or run into issues with a recent order, you may want to (and should) dispute the transaction. Generally, you’ll have two options when disputing a transaction: refund or chargeback.

A refund comes directly from a merchant, while a chargeback comes from your card issuer.

When to ask for a chargeback

  • A chargeback is the payment amount returned to a debit or credit card after a customer disputes the transaction.
  • The merchant or the cardholder’s issuing bank can initiate the chargeback process.
  • Merchants typically incur a fee from the card issuer when a chargeback occurs.
  • Federal law requires card issuers to offer chargebacks within 60 days of the billing date.
  • In cases other than fraud, you may be able to resolve your issue directly with the merchant rather than by requesting a chargeback from your bank.

Charges can be disputed for many reasons, such as

  • A cardholder being charged by a merchant for items they never received
  • A merchant duplicating an order by mistake
  • Mistaken costs caused by a technical issue
  • Fraudulent charges from credit or debit card information that has been compromised

What Is the Chargeback Process?

The primary participants in the chargeback process are the cardholder, the merchant, the issuing bank, the acquiring bank, and sometimes the credit card network.

The cardholder/customer

These may be the same individual, but only sometimes. The cardholder is the actual owner of the payment card used to purchase the dispute. The customer is the individual who placed the transaction.

In a typical transaction or a friendly fraud chargeback, the cardholder and the customer are the same person. In an actual fraud scenario, the customer who made a transaction with a stolen card is not the same person as the cardholder who disputes it later.

1) The merchant

is the individual or company who sold a product or service to the customer. When the chargeback is filed, the merchant must decide whether to accept or dispute it.

2)The issuing bank (Issuer):

A bank or other financial institution that issues a branded payment card to the cardholder. Examples: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Capital One.

3)The acquiring bank (Acquirer)

The merchant’s bank holds their merchant account and enables them to accept credit card payments.

4)The credit card network:

The association that owns the credit card brand used in the transaction. The four major credit card networks in the United States are Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. These networks set the terms for credit card transactions, followed by the issuing banks.

Other companies that service merchant accounts, such as payment processors and gateways, may also become involved in the chargeback process.

What is Chargeback Processing?

The merchant or the cardholder’s issuing bank can initiate the chargeback process. If started with a merchant, the process is similar to a standard transaction; however, the funds are taken from a merchant’s account and deposited with the cardholder’s issuing bank.

How Do You Fight a Chargeback?

When a customer initiates a chargeback, the merchant has a set period to respond. This varies by the payment processor but is usually around 30 days. At this time, the merchant can provide the signed receipts, contracts, and any other documentation that shows that the chargeback is in error.

chargeback meaning

Why do chargebacks happen?

When a credit card company issues a chargeback, they use a code to indicate the reason for the reversal. There are four general chargeback code categories:

1) Fraud

Chargebacks exist to make it safer for customers to shop. They protect against other fraudulent purchases made without the buyer’s knowledge or consent. Fraud is the most common reason for a chargeback.

Chargebacks with the following reason codes have been requested due to fraudulent activity:

Chargeback reason American Express reason code Discover reason code Visa reason code Mastercard reason code
The card wasn't present at the time of the transaction F29 UA01 10.4 4834
Counterfeit Europay, Mastercard, or Visa (EMV) card F30 UA05 or UA06 10.5 4870
The card was not present at the time of the transaction F29 UA06 10.4 4863
EMV card was lost, stolen, or not received at the time of the transaction F31 None None 4871

2) Quality

Chargebacks also keep retailers accountable. If a buyer receives a defective product or never receives the item they paid for, they can initiate a chargeback.

In many cases, no proof of delivery or an illegal returns policy will mean a customer is entitled to a chargeback.

An increasing number of merchants are offering product or service subscriptions. While free trials are great for encouraging customer sign-ups, you can be hit with chargebacks if subscriptions aren’t cancelled promptly when requested.

Chargeback reason American Express reason code Discover reason code Mastercard reason code Visa reason code
Defective goods and services C32 RM None 13.3
Goods or services were not as described C31 RM None 13.3
Goods or services were not as described C08 RG 4855 13.1

3) Clerical:

A clerical chargeback can be raised if a buyer is billed twice for an item or a return is made without a refund.

Chargeback reason American Express reason code Discover reason code Mastercard reason code Visa reason code
Invalid card number P01 IN 4834 12.1
Incorrect transaction amount P05 AW 4846 12.4
Duplicate charges P08 DP 4999 12.6

4) Technical:

If there’s an issue with the buyer’s bank or credit card, or they don’t have funds in their account, a technical chargeback may be issued.

Website errors and confusing checkout processes can also cause technical chargebacks. To combat this problem, use a reliable e-commerce solution with a hassle-free checkout.

Limits distractions at the checkout so customers know exactly what they’re buying.

Chargeback reason American Express reason code Discover reason code Mastercard reason code Visa reason code
Invalid card number F10 UA01 4837 10.1
Missing signature F14 UA02 4840 10.2

What is friendly fraud?

Illegitimate chargebacks (friendly fraud)

Sometimes, customers will initiate chargebacks despite receiving their purchases.

Termed “friendly fraud,” illegitimate chargebacks can occur because consumers are unhappy with their products, are confused about payments, or are simply trying to gain a free product. It’s estimated that 61% of all chargebacks happen due to friendly fraud.

Nicolas Tranchant, founder of jewellery store Vivalatina, says, “The biggest reason for our chargebacks has been the client’s dishonesty. Sixty per cent of them are claimed without even an email to explain a problem with the jewellery we had shipped to them, with no explanation and no intent to allow us to solve the issue.”

In these cases, merchants can dispute customer chargebacks to regain funds.

How do you dispute a chargeback?:

Respond as quickly as possible when disputing a chargeback since delayed action may result in a chargeback loss.

1) Gather information

Identify the customer and transaction in question when you’re notified of a chargeback. Source as much information about the transaction as possible, including warehouse data and delivery status.

You can also contact the customer directly to see if their issue can be resolved.

2) Submit your chargeback response

If you feel that a chargeback has been made unfairly, you can submit your evidence in a dispute response.

This document is returned to the bank or card issuer that sent you the chargeback letter (alternatively, you may need to initiate your own chargeback dispute). Follow any formatting

instructions and deadlines, and ensure you directly respond to the chargeback’s reason code.

For disputed fraud or “no authorisation” chargebacks, provide evidence that the cardholder was aware of and authorised the transaction. AVS (address verification system) matches, CVV confirmations, signed receipts, or contracts may help to prove this.

3) Await the decision

After you submit a rebuttal, the situation is out of your hands while the processor’s acquiring bank reviews the information. The cardholder’s bank makes the final decision about whether it will process the chargeback, and it will inform the customer of its decision.

4) Disputing chargebacks

Consumers benefit from the protection chargebacks provide against fraud and poor customer service.

Chargeback rules promote fair return policies and discourage retailers from selling subpar products. But, when consumers abuse the chargeback system, merchants can face unexpected losses and fees.

Merchants can recover disputed funds by submitting evidence to a consumer’s credit card company, showing that the customer authorised the transaction and received their purchase.

What is Chargeback handling?

1) What is Process flow?

As depicted in the below process flow, a chargeback will complete a full circle. It is initiated by the cardholder and issuing bank, and ultimately, your response will be presented to the cardholder and issuing bank.

  • English
  • Legible
  • The professional look and feel
  • Structured and organised format


The initial chargeback—the reversal of the transaction the cardholder is disputing—should be posted to Accounts Receivable. This positions each chargeback as funds owed to you and which you expect to recover. You can also create a special designation for this, such as “Accounts Receivable Chargebacks.”


A chargeback occurs when an agent has to pay back a portion of their commission because their client passes away or cancels an insurance policy early. Each company's chargeback schedule and contract is slightly different, and chargeback rules vary by product line.

chargeback process



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