How Much Time Do I Have to File a Chargeback?

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Chargebacks are one advantage of paying with credit cards.
Chargebacks are one advantage of paying with credit cards. (Image: Burke/Triolo Productions/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Disputing a credit card charge is commonly known as a chargeback, because the amount charged to your credit card gets reversed. The law offers credit card users chargebacks as a protection against false advertisement, nondelivery of services and other problems you might have when making a purchase. How much time you have to file a chargeback varies for each credit card provider.

Legal Limits

Consumers who purchase goods or services with a credit card are offered certain protections under the Fair Credit Billing Act. If the goods or services were damaged, not delivered, of poor quality or otherwise unsatisfactory, you have the right to dispute the charge. The law puts some limits on chargebacks, however: the charge must have been made in your home state or within 100 miles of your home address, and the charge must be more than $50.

Individual Variations

In practice, most credit card providers are willing to work with credit card users even if the purchase does not fall under the legal limits for chargebacks; for example, if an item was purchased online for only $25 and was not delivered. In addition, the window for filing a chargeback varies depending on your credit card provider. In general, a chargeback should be filed within 60 days, but some institutions extend this window to 90 days. Check your credit card agreement or call your credit card provider for details about chargebacks for your particular card.

Problems

Even if there is a 90-day window for filing a chargeback, waiting is not a good idea. Once you've paid off the charge to your credit card company, you can no longer dispute it. This means that as soon as the charge appears on your credit card bill, you should file a chargeback, in writing, with your credit card provider. It's always smart to follow up by phone, too. Once you've filed a chargeback, you are legally allowed to withhold payment on the disputed charge; in other words, you don't have to pay that portion of your bill.

Considerations

When you get a new credit card, always read the credit card agreement for their policies on chargebacks. In addition, you should always read your monthly credit card statement in detail to check for any unauthorized purchases or other purchases worthy of a chargeback. Filing a chargeback as soon as possible, even if you have more time to file later, will help you resolve the problem more quickly and satisfactorily.

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