What happens if you get a credit card refund?

Information verified correct on September 26th, 2016
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Find out everything you need to know about getting a credit card refund.

If you’re overcharged for a transaction or you didn’t get what you paid for, you can request a refund on your credit card. Merchants and businesses all have returns and credit card refund policies that you can refer to if you have any transaction issues. In some circumstances, you might also need to contact your credit card provider to get a credit card refund.

Here, we take a look at how credit card refunds work, the time limits involved and other factors to consider so that you can take the right steps to get your money back.

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What are the types of credit card refunds?

There are two main ways to get a credit card refund, which we’ve outlined in detail below:

  • Point of sale or merchant refunds. If you want to return a purchase, find you have been incorrectly charged or want a credit card refund for non-delivery of items you’ve paid for, your first step should be to contact the merchant. The representative you speak to will refer to the credit card refund policy to make sure the claim is eligible and then guide you through the refund process. Merchants can also remove pre-authorisations that “hold” funds in your account before or after a full payment is made (think hotel bookings).
  • Chargebacks. If the merchant does not agree to reverse the credit card transaction you can dispute it by requesting a “chargeback” through your credit card provider. This type of credit card refund involves the bank reversing all or part of the amount of the disputed transaction. Chargebacks are done in accordance with the applicable card scheme rules set by Visa, MasterCard or American Express and often take longer to process than merchant credit card refunds.

When can I get a credit card refund?

There are many instances when you can get a credit card refund, either through the business or your credit card provider, depending on the circumstances. Some of the most common scenarios include:

  • When the same transaction is charged to your account more than once
  • If you return an item to the merchant and meet the return policy requirements
  • If it is clear that you did not carry out the transaction
  • If the card was used after it was reported as lost or stolen
  • When the equipment used to process the transaction is found to be faulty

When can’t I get a credit card refund?

There are some situations where you won’t be eligible for a credit card refund. These include:

  • If you return an item to a merchant but don’t meet the return policy requirements (e.g. item is worn)
  • If you have shared your credit card or credit card details with other people
  • If you don’t report a lost or stolen credit card straight away

You might also be unable to get a credit card refund if the charges are “pre-authorised” and meet the standard practices of a merchant (i.e. a hotel or airline that “holds” funds for a set period of time in case of incidental charges). In this instance, you could contact the merchant to request a release of the funds, rather than an actual refund.

How can I get a credit card refund?

The credit card refund process can vary depending on the merchant and your circumstances, but generally follows the steps below.

  1. Contact the merchant. Get in touch with the merchant involved in the transaction and let them know you want a refund. Make sure you explain the reason for the refund and ask if there are any specific details they will require.
  2. Organise your required documents or items. If you are returning an item for a refund, follow the requirements outlined for a postage or in-store return. If you are requesting a refund for some other reason, provide the merchant with supporting documents. For example, you may need the original receipt or credit card statement details that show you have been incorrectly charged.
  3. Provide your credit card details. Present the credit card that you have used for the transaction, or give the merchant details of the card (if over the phone or online) so that they can process the refund.
  4. Sign any required documents. Fill out any return or refund documents as requested by the merchant. This is for their records and helps them verify the refund.

What are the differences in the credit card refund process for chargebacks?

Getting a credit card refund from a merchant is relatively straightforward, which is why it’s usually the first port of call. The chargeback process, on the other hand, usually involves a few more steps.

  1. Contact your credit card provider. Explain the situation to them in detail. They may advise you to contact the merchant again before proceeding with the chargeback.
  2. Provide evidence of the issue. Your provider may ask you for verbal or written details of the incorrect charges and you could have to fill out a credit card dispute form. Provide as much information as possible, including statements, receipts and any other details about your contact with the merchant.
  3. Wait for a response. The credit card refund laws around chargebacks require banks to wait up to 45 days for a merchant to respond to your dispute claims. If the merchant does not respond in that time, your dispute will be approved and you’ll get your money back. If they do respond, further steps will be taken to resolve the situation. You can request updates from your provider during this time, but will have to wait it out before you can get a refund.
  4. Provide any further details. If the merchant accepts the dispute, your refund will be processed as usual. If they reject it, your provider may ask for further details until the situation is resolved. Most credit card providers aim to provide an outcome within 45 days, but in some cases it could take up to 120 days for the provider and merchant to resolve the dispute.

How long does a credit card refund take to show up on Internet banking?

  • Credit card refunds from merchants. Refunds from a merchant can take up to seven days to be processed. It’s important to note that during this time the original purchase could still be listed on your account and accrue interest if you carry a balance on your credit card. You can contact individual merchants to find out how long they will take to process the refund or to request a faster refund.
  • Credit card chargebacks. The transaction dispute process requires providers wait for a response from the merchant before processing any eligible credit card refunds. This means that the time it takes for a credit card chargeback refund to show up on your account varies and could be anywhere from a week to several months. During this time, your credit card provider may freeze interest charges on the disputed amount, or increase the funds available on your account. Check with your specific provider to find out more.

What are the other factors to consider when requesting a credit card refund?

  • Time limit. Merchants outline the amount of time you have to legitimately request a refund, so check individual policies before making any transactions. For chargebacks, you usually have to dispute the credit card transaction within 30–90 days of when it first appears on your credit card statement.
  • Interest charges. Depending on the circumstances of your credit card refund, you may be charged interest during the refund process. But if you have lodged a chargeback claim with your credit card provider and it is approved, you should be refunded the full amount as well as any interest that was charged on it during the investigation.
  • Refund payments. If money is returned to your account, the funds are considered as a credit to your account. This means a refund will not count as a payment towards your balance if you need to pay the minimum amount due for the statement cycle.
  • Credit card refund fees. While there shouldn’t be a fee for refunds processed by a merchant, some banks do apply a fee for chargebacks. Third-party payment processors such as PayPal or SecurePay may also charge additional fees for credit card refunds, with the cost typically ranging from $10–25.

Whether you need a credit card refund for non-delivery, incorrect charges or simply a change of mind on your purchases, the quickest and easiest option is to contact the merchant directly. If that doesn’t work, you can dispute the transaction through your credit card provider to get a chargeback. By understanding more about these two options, you will be able to get the right kind of credit card refund in any situation.

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12 Responses to What happens if you get a credit card refund?

  1. Default Gravatar
    Rob | September 24, 2016

    Recently we hired a vehicle and were required to make a deposit of $800 which was to be refunded on safe return of the vehicle. We were charged $16.00 transaction fee.

    On return we received a credit of $800 but not the $16.00 transaction fee. Does the merchant receive a credit for the original transaction fee ($16.00) when they credited off our original $800??

    • Staff
      May | September 25, 2016

      Hi Rob,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Please note you’ve come through to finder.com.au we are an Australian financial comparison website and general information service.

      As we may not be able to know your contract with the hire-a-car company, you’d be best to inquire if the $16.00 transaction fee was part of the contract you signed when you rented the vehicle. It could be that this $16 is their fee for providing the service with you that is why it was not refunded and they charged it straight away along with the $800.

      Cheers,
      May

  2. Default Gravatar
    Elly | July 27, 2016

    Ask for refund from the merchant to my debt card but give wrong card, it is same bank same account but different card, I still can get refund?

    • Staff
      May | July 28, 2016

      Hi Elly,

      Thanks for your question.

      In order for you to get the refund smoothly and easily, you must provide your merchant with the correct credit card details. The information of the card you used when you first processed the payment.

      Cheers,
      May

  3. Default Gravatar
    stef | June 13, 2016

    Hi, in relation to credit/debit card refund from an international merchant, if said account linked to the card used is blocked/frozen will the transaction still go through or will it need to be cleared ?

    Thanks.

    • Staff
      May | June 14, 2016

      Hi Stef,

      Thanks for your inquiry.

      If your account is blocked/frozen but you’re still making payments for your remaining balance, it’s possible for a refund to go through because it’s currently active. The refund will reflect on your statement. However, if your card has been closed and no longer active, your debit/credit card company cannot accept merchant refunds and the transaction will only bounce back to the merchant. You’ll need to get in touch with the merchant to request an alternate form of payment for the refund.

      Cheers,
      May

  4. Default Gravatar
    Karen | January 2, 2015

    Hi,
    Regarding refund by credit card. If you have a receipt but no longer have the credit card it was made with can the goods be refunded to another with the same name. Is it a law to do this or depends on store policy. Thanks

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | January 5, 2015

      Hi Karen,

      Thanks for your questions.

      According to the ACCC website, it’s not legally required that the refund be issued on the same card, but different retailers will have different policies regarding this. If you explain the position you are in with the closed credit card account and have a different card through which they can process the refund you may be able to still receive the refund.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  5. Default Gravatar
    John | December 2, 2014

    By making a purchase with a credit card and then being issued with a refund of that item also on my credit card.
    My question is — how long should this take for thew refund to be put back — given we live in a computer automated society now

    • Staff
      Elizabeth | December 3, 2014

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your question.

      Processing times differ depending on the card issuer you receive the refund from and their processing times. It can be from a few days to a few weeks, but it would be best to confirm this with your card issuer.

      I hope this has helped.

      Thanks,

      Elizabeth

  6. Default Gravatar
    CARMEL | August 6, 2011

    If I have purchased goods which I have never received and now the company is in voluntary administration, can I get a refund on my card?

    • Staff
      Jacob | August 19, 2012

      HI Carmel. Please contact your card issuer for further information. Cheers.

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