Credit Card Chargeback – Everything you need to know

By | June 13, 2020
credit card chargeback

One of the greatest benefit of using a credit card over a debit card or other payment modes is the buyer protection that gives you the ability to chargeback a transaction. Let’s see more about it in detail in this article.

What is Chargeback?

In simple terms, chargeback is the return of money to the buyer. Here’s an example to understand it better.

Let’s say you’re buying a product or service from an unknown merchant on a not-so-popular website using a debit card. 

What can you do if the merchant disappear? 

You could make a complaint at various levels and “hope” you get the money back.

But if you have purchased it using a credit card, you’re lot more safe, as you’re automatically covered with buyer protection, meaning you can ask the credit card issuer to refund the transaction stating the issue.

This is known as chargeback globally and dispute in India.

If you’re a merchant, chargebacks can be frustrating to deal with. If you’re a consumer, chargebacks are godsend and act as a shield between you and the dishonest merchants.

Disputing a Transaction

The process of disputing a transaction varies from one issuer to another.

Some may just require a call to customer care to raise the dispute (like Amex), some may need a signed document (like HDFC, ICICI) and some may even need a FIR (like Axis).

That’s right! Axis needs FIR to raise the chargeback.

I was shocked when I came to know this, because getting FIR is not easy in India and also I don’t see a need for it, as chargebacks are very common in credit card industry.

This is one of the reason why I always use Amex when I’m dealing with an doubtful merchants, especially for international transactions even-though their reward rate is too low. Because I know its only a call away if things goes wrong.

Along with this, depending on the type of transaction your card maybe blocked while disputing a transaction and a new card will be issued.

Investigation

As soon as you initiate the dispute with the credit card issuer, the investigation process will begin. The usual Investigation period is 45 to 90 Days.

In the normal course of investigation, the bank of the concerned merchant is expected to revert to our query within 45 days, if the merchant contests your claim and provides supporting documents for the transaction. 

The 45 days period is as per current time frames of card networks like Visa/MasterCard/Diners.

In the event that the bank receives any such proof in support of the transaction in dispute, the same would be sent to you as and when received from the concerned merchant / merchant bank, for your review and further steps/investigation. 

Interim Credit

As you see, the investigation may take couple of weeks/months but chances are your credit call bill will get generated before the investigation ends.

So to give you peace of mind the credit card issuer will give you an interim credit (temporary credit/refund) during the investigation period so that you don’t need to pay that amount for time being.

If the investigation ends in your favour there won’t be any change, but if it favours the merchant then the dispute amount would be charged to your bill.

My Experience

I’ve done at-least 20+ disputes till date and I won almost all of those. I usually win as they’re either foreign fraud transactions or unknown merchants trying to run away with money.

Here’s my experience with Fraudulent transactions on Amex. Generally I see Amex attracts more such fraud transactions but they’re lot safer to deal with, as its Amex.

American Express promotes this feature as lost card liability and it is one of the many reasons to have Amex in your wallet.

I’ve made few disputes on domestic transactions as well. For ex, I had to raise a dispute on CIBIL once, as I was having trouble in accessing the paid account.

Usually for domestic transactions it serves as a mode of escalation, as simply sending an email is not attended with care most of the time.

At the time of writing this article, I’ve an active dispute running on MoneyControl Pro subscription service in India (non OTP transaction). 

Though, I’m only 50% sure of winning this case as I should have cancelled the subscription prior to renewal.

But I felt they should have intimated about the renewal few days prior, as automated transactions are not so popular in India, apart from Amazon re-loads for that matter. Anyway let’s see.

Final Thoughts

As you see, chargebacks could be life saver at times and gives you peace of mind while dealing with fraudulent transactions or unpopular merchants.

But remember not all banks are friendly in dealing with disputes, like Axis wants you to do too much work that can otherwise be taken care over a call like incase of Amex.

So the buyer protection which gives you ability to dispute a transaction is definitely one of the many reasons why you should have a credit card.

But hardly few of the credit card holders actually knew about this amazing benefit, just like most of my friends are not aware of this. Even banks don’t promote it much as a selling point, except maybe Amex.

Have you disputed a transaction in the past? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.

39 thoughts on “Credit Card Chargeback – Everything you need to know

  1. Jay

    Well explained Siddarth!

    I too have same thought on this topic, having more than 15 CC from more than 10 Banks and have disputed too few transactions in past .

    I would like to share one story from Aug 2017.

    Few years ago if you remember there was a wallet called “Udio” – I used to use this wallet for their prepaid Visa card, expecting my actual credit cards will be safe as Udio prepaid card has limited balance (what I load) and my actual CC are having big limits (BTW I’m having CC up to a limit of 15L, which I believe is rare). After few months I noticed my all cards which I used on Udio wallet (Amex and Indusind Amex) got compromised and some transactions were taken on these cards in a gap of few days in foreign currencies (I remember one merchant WWW. DEUTSCHE). I reported these fraud transaction to Amex over the call and to Indusind by filling a written form – both the bankers issued a temporary credit line for the same amount and after about 30 days they gave the resolution in my favour and I ended up paying nothing for these transaction.
    Why I mentioned the name “Udio” wallet because when I shared my story with my friends who were also using Udio they had similar experience using Udio- many were had such frauds on their card which they used on Udio.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Thanks for sharing your experience Jay!

      Yes, while data with big brands are getting compromised easily, its no wonder to see it happen on such apps.

      Reply
  2. GTMAX

    Extremely important article as you rightly said most of the credit card holders are not aware about it.

    Few suggestions below which might be included in the article:

    1. You can mention the approx Dispute timeframe deadline from txn date
    2. I believe some people who know about this had claimed chargeback for their Jet Airways tickets last year between Mar-June 2019 on the basis of “non-delivery of service” when Jet airways was grounded. If the same is true, people might leverage it to get their money released for flights/hotels booked during the lockdown period where the merchants are not returning it.
    3. On a personal level, I have around 25K amount stuck with Air India & Indigo, the tickets for which were booked in February for travel in April through DCB points. Is there any possibility to claim a chargeback for bookings done with Credit Card points? If not, any other Jugaad someone has been able to find to get their money out of airline credit shells to their bank account? I know that money in the credit shell is going to expire worthless for me, hence trying to recover it somehow.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Got it. Will try to add more info.

      In your case atleast you’re having it in the shell. I lost about 12K in hotel booking via points done via HDFC and I don’t think there is a way out as I had to cancel the travel on the date of booking. However will check with hotel/cleartrip later if they can consider for re-scheduling it.

      Reply
      1. Ashish Nikhare

        I have a similar experience with 2 hotel bookings done via HDFC reward points via cleartrip. What one can do is, call the hotel directly or email the hotel directly and ask for a solution & a refund. Both the managers replied on email as well as on mobile giving a positive reply and favouring refund. I mailed to cleartrip both their email reply as well as mobile audio reocrdings. Cleartrip considered the mail. But they were not the ones that had booked the hotel. They had booked it via Goibibo so they were waiting for reply from Goibibo. One fine day, they received a reply from Goibibo that the hotel has refunded the booking amount. An then, very recently, the amount was refunded to Card account in terms of RPs used. Had a very nice experience. Just, patience is the key !

        Reply
      2. Harshal Ajmera

        Nice article, Sid!
        For the benefit of readers, I would like to share my experience in brief.

        In 2018, I had booked a Jet Airways-KLM flight from Mumbai – Amsterdam – Oslo and return; via Makemytrip (MMT); through my Yes First Exclusive credit card. Few months later Jet Airways crisis happened in April 2019, and they cancelled operations. For over 4 months I wrote to Jet and MMT both about the cancellation of my flight and refund for the same. While Jet only gave a standard reply that MMT needs to be contacted, MMT was equally unwilling to help at any level. Later I escalated the matter to online consumer forum. MMT again raised hands that they cannot help.
        I finally raised a dispute through Yes Bank’s credit card team, in Sept 2019. (Name of the document is ‘Cardmember Dispute Form’ appearing on the ‘Form Centre’ section of Yes Bank website.) Dispute reason mentioned by me: ‘Cancelled transaction’. I had to submit a form with all flight details, e-ticket numbers, booking IDs, cancellation reference numbers, printouts of all correspondence with Jet Airways and MMT. After 2 days Yes Bank confirmed receipt of dispute form and mentioned they would take 45-180 days to provide a solution. By the end of Dec 2019, I received intimation that member bank had accepted my dispute with MMT and reversed/refunded my entire amount.

        Reply
    2. Murad

      @GTMAX,

      I had the same experiance with Air India Express. The ticket was purchased through SmartBuy (Yatra) for 02Apr20 and received email stating flight schedule changed instead of cancel. I contacted SmartBuy and they informed that until Airline provides confirmation of full refund they cannot do anything. I contacted the Airline customer care and they informed me no full refund if cancelled and amount will be credit shell. So I email managements at AI. AIE and Aviation/DGCC. First they rejected to provide full refund and wanted to extend the expire date for credit shell and later after received full refund of almost INR45000. I have argued that since the flyers are students and we do not know when the next trip will schedule in 2021 due to examination and cannot utilize the ticket by Mar2021.

      These are the email address.
      appellate{at}airindiaexpress.in
      aa.khandekar{at}airindia.in
      a.yadav{at}ias.nic.in
      ceo.aiex{at}airindia.in
      cmd{at}airindia.in
      hm.moca{at}nic.in
      icc{at}airindiaexpress.in
      nodal{at}airindiaexpress.in

      Reply
      1. GTMAX

        Thanks Murad for sharing this in detail. I have written an email to these & some additional email IDs in Air India. Will update here once I get any positive response.

        Reply
  3. Deepak

    I have used this a lot, especially with recurring transaction avoiding OTP mechanism such as LinkedIn premium subscription. I got the full refund in my card. HDFC is slower than Amex but at the end of day, it protects buyers from potential fraud.

    Surprisingly, US card issuers still does not have OTP mechanism and many merchant asks your information including cvv to complete a transaction such as insurance, medical, online shopping. Indian regulators have made sure security of top level.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Good to see refunds on subscriptions. Though, HDFC is denying it for me this time.

      Reply
    2. Tushar Richabadas

      US offers bigger protections for credit card users. Chargebacks are easier etc. Basically they price in the loss due to fraud and prefer to let it go in favor of ease of use (no OTP etc.) Also, they don’t like things being done centrally, like our banking rules, so bank transfers can take days – versus our ~24 hours at best.

      Reply
  4. Ravindar Eppanapalli

    This same feature is available in Citi Bank credit card also..
    I got refund when I disputed my transaction.

    Reply
  5. The Global Investor

    Any idea where and how the fraud occurs most of the time? Is it at the merchants end? Most merchants don’t save the data and its simply passed directly to a payment processor in an encrypted format. Is it at the card issuer end? Or due to customer negligence? How can we prevent this?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Fraud could happen at any level.

      How can we prevent this?
      If you use the card often at so many places replacing the card once every year might help to an extent

      Reply
      1. Santosh

        To add to this. Never let your card go out of your sight. Ex: a guy at reception takes your card inside as machine at the reception is not working. Similarly can happen in groceries or restaurants,both in India and esp abroad. They swipe the card in a different machine (looks like the one used by Amazon delivery guys) and say card is not working and then use a genuine machine. The first machine stores all your card data based on a swipe. The data is now sold in black Market

        Reply
      2. Sanchit Goyal

        Hello

        Are you sure about the axis Bank requirement of FIR? I had filed a chargeback last year and also won the same but no FIR was required. It can be because it was a dispute against a foreign entity in a different country and I filed after coming back to India.

        Reply
  6. SH

    Nice and richly informative article. This is indeed one of the overlooked features of a credit card.

    I recently initiated a ‘dispute’ against a flower / live plant delivery service (they did not give me the product I ordered, but products of lower value). The transaction wasn’t for a big amount and I would not have initiated the dispute had the company acknowledged the issue and offered to exchange (I was not available at the time of delivery or else I would sent it back). The transaction was done with my Citi Prestige card. So far Citi acted swiftly – they asked for the a pic of the product I was delivered and a description of the product I had ordered, and within 24 hours reinstated the amount charged while they investigate. So far I have been impressed with how Citi has handled the situation.

    On another occasion years back one the domestic cab services kept me waiting at Bangalore airport for 30 mins then came with a car with different number plate, that broke down near the toll plaza at exit of airport premises. I had to take an Uber from there. That cab was pre-paid using my Corporate Amex, and when to my surprise I found that the company hadn’t reversed the charge, I just called Amex and they were willing to reverse it over the call – no questions, no documentation, no nothing.

    And now Amex Plat also has 90 days protection for damage and theft, but I still fall for the charms of 10X programme even while making electronic purchases from Amazon or Flipkart.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Cool. Thanks for sharing your experiences, as always 🙂

      Reply
  7. Rahul

    Seems like you took complimentary subscription of MC Pro using Cred.
    Reminder for me to cancel it timely 🙂

    Reply
  8. Bhavin Shah

    Just to share my experience on fraudulent transactions, I have all major private/foreign bank cards(Amex, ICICI, HDFC, SCB, Citibank, Axis, Citibank, RBL, Yes Bank, HSBC, Kotak Bank, Yes Bank) and one PSU bank card(SBI). So far I have had only 2 such incidents
    1) Amex : Card was swiped multiple times in foreign currency on foreign location. By the time i got 3rd SMS, I got call from Amex that their appears to be fraudulent transactions on your card and they have blocked my card. They also arranged for replacement of card. No documents no request no email nothing. Amazing service.
    2) Indusind : Again multiple swipes in foreign currency at least 10 of them. Here also to my surprise I got call from their transaction monitoring team and they asked me to complete some formalities related to dispute transactions. But not much hassle and card was replaced.
    3) Yes Bank : No incident but whenever swiped amount is higher like 70 to 90K, i immediately get call from their transaction monitoring team.

    Reply
  9. Sankar Bhowmik

    Last year I had to let go of Rs. 7000 which I spent to purchase Goa to London Gatwick for Dec. Yes that was just Rs. 7000 for one way ticket via Thomas Cook and before my travel the company declared bankruptcy.

    It was bookEd via StanC Ultimate. They simply didn’t do much – not sure bankruptcy of Thomas Cook had any role – I followed up few times, eventually I stopped following up.

    Reply
  10. cardexpertfan

    Moneycontrol pro,netflix,buisness standard–when you apply for first time free/paid membership, you have to accept the condition of “auto-renewal” . The renewal happens without any notice from the company and even if your card is blocked for all transactions (online/offline/cash withdrawal). The OTP authentication is required only for first time, not in renewals.Many of such sites allow only credit cards since auto-renewal is not possible with debit cards/netbanking.

    Reply
    1. Pankaj Singhal

      The best thing is to cancel within a few days of subscribing. The subscription continues till end of term and expires.

      Reply
  11. Akshat

    Sid,
    I usually put a calendar reminder for recurring payments like insurance etc and for any new subscriptions or cancellation i require.
    ex, i regularly put a reminder on trial subscriptions close to end/new charge period and on the day decide whether to keep the subscription or can it

    This helps a great deal its tough to keep a track on all services and subscriptions.

    Reply
  12. amit

    Sbi card have option to dispute transaction in the app itself, not sure how it works though

    Reply
  13. Mouli

    Sid,

    I am also having the issue of Monecontrol pro ,raised the same with their team that without intimation,how renewal is processed
    Any update you have ?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      They asked for docs, which is pointless. Its just going, the reversal is still there, so I didn’t mind asking them for updates.

      Reply
  14. Krishna Chandran

    Very well explained Siddharth!
    I have had the experience of chargebacks twice in the last couple of years. As you pointed out, AMEX is the safest bet when it comes to chargebacks. I remember a transaction on a vendor whose payment gateway was Razorpay. The initial transaction was done on AMEX and the payment failed. However, the amount got debited on AMEX. I had to pay eventually twice as I made the transaction using an ICICI card.

    I had placed a request for chargeback with AMEX and they told me that the charge is correct. I had to go back to the vendor and Razorpay to issue a refund but both were of no help and kept blaming each other and did not want to take liability. Since the amount was significant(35K), there was no way I could let it go.

    I reopened the dispute with AMEX again and since it was the second time I was opening the dispute, maybe they put more effort into their investigations :). Thankfully, the dispute was resolved in my favour! But, it took almost 6 months for AMEX. And innumerable follow-ups with vendor and payment gateway.

    Reply
  15. Karan

    I got charged USD27 at a lounge abroad.. I was checking if my card was valid for free entry. The host at the entrance said she’d check out the card into the machine. I got charged immediately.. she said she’d reverse it. I didn’t use the lounge. My transaction wasn’t reversed.

    When I raised the dispute with ICICI they rejected it saying I handed over the card and was present at the location so it’s valid.

    Reply
    1. Shivi

      You should have kept a copy/photo of the “transaction void/reversed” slip.

      Reply
  16. Saikat Roy

    Chargeback also works on debit cards. One fine morning, I received an SMS that 28K had been debited from my bank account on Agoda.com using my VISA debit card. I am a broke student! I filed an FIR with the local police and emailed it to my SBI branch along with an application (written by me and there was no template provided by SBI). It took around 2 months to get the whole amount back. Mind you, this was an international transaction and did not involve any OTP.

    Reply
  17. santosh

    for credit card chargebacks i.e item not received (international transaction),when i dispute it will banks(credit card) give tempoarary credit until the dispute resolves?

    Reply
  18. Nitesh Mishra

    Can someone tell me what should I do ?
    I bought medicines for my mother from my HdFC CC, from a website named Mednear.com as prices shown were real good. However first they cancelled the order stating unable to complete the order then they said the money will be returned within 7-10 working days. But it has been 20days and money not received. When I contacted again they said there is payment gateway failure so now they said send the bank accounts details to cr
    But still it has been more than 1week and have not received the money.
    Can someone tell me that is this case eligible for chargeback or i have to follow some other way.

    Reply
    1. Shivi

      File for charge-back with a cover letter explaining the transaction and back & forth communication and attaching all communication/email proofs (if doing it physically)

      Reply
  19. Prasad

    Hi Siddharth,

    It is so good to read this article. Keen to know if you won the case of MoneyControl Pro
    I have this issue where a Zendesk subscription was auto renewed without confirmation/otp. I have raised a dispute & not sure if i should win. Pl help with your views

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      HDFC kept asking for docs but the charge that they credited temporarily is not reversed yet. So sort of won I can say!

      Reply
  20. Nitish Kumar

    First of all, very informative article Siddharth.
    I would like to ask if anyone has raised a dispute against Flipkart? How it went and is the refund issued in your favour? I booked flight tickets from Flipkart and money got deducted and tickets were not confirmed.
    After several followups with Flipkart team, I raised a dispute with my bank(Citibank). Although, Flipkart customer care team is accepting that they received the amount , they are delaying the refund and not giving proper justification.
    Hoping for the dispute in my favour.
    Put in your suggestions , if any.

    Reply

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