What is a disputed charge?

Find out what transactions can be disputed, when you can dispute a charge and what happens after a dispute.

Mistakes happen all the time, right? But when it comes to using your credit card for purchases, nobody wants to end up with the wrong item or pay more than they’re supposed to because of an error. That’s why it’s important to know what it means to dispute a charge—just in case you ever need to.

Disputing a charge could keep you from having to pay for billing errors and purchases that you didn’t authorize. You may also be able to dispute a charge if a business doesn’t live up to its end of the arrangement. For example, perhaps they never gave you the product or service you bought or didn’t credit you for an item you returned. Read on to learn more about when and how you can file a dispute.

What is a disputed charge?

A disputed charge is a credit card charge that you have a question, claim or complaint about. Types of disputes include claims of a billing error or complaints about the quality of the goods or services you paid for. Filing a dispute might result in the charge getting reversed. 

Another type of disputed charge is an unauthorized transaction. But those disputes tend to be treated separately as fraud claims. 

Disputes vs chargebacks: What’s the difference?

The words “dispute” and “chargeback” are sometimes used interchangeably. But a dispute is what you file when you think there’s an issue with a charge. A chargeback is what you might get back—a reversal of the charge. 

When can you dispute a credit card charge?

It’s a good idea to dispute a charge as soon as possible. But you can generally dispute a charge up to 60 days after the error appeared on your credit card statement. Here are some circumstances when you can consider disputing a charge:

  • If the transaction has the wrong date or amount.
  • If you didn’t receive or accept the item.
  • If you returned the item and didn’t get a refund.

Can all charges be disputed?

If you do it within the time limit, many charges can be disputed—but not all. For instance, you might not be able to dispute a charge if you got a cash advance and then used the cash for the purchase. Or if you made a purchase with a check that’s tied to your credit card account. 

You can check your credit card account’s annual Billing Rights Summary to see which procedures and restrictions apply. You might also find the summary on the back of your credit card statements. 

How do I dispute a charge?

If you think there’s an error on your statement, contacting the merchant directly is often the quickest way to resolve the issue. Some credit card issuers may ask you to do that first. But you can also work with your issuer. 

Depending on your card issuer, you might be able to file a dispute with your credit company online, by phone or by mail. You may need to provide your account information, the amount of the suspected error and why you believe it’s a mistake. Depending on the nature of the dispute, your bank might also ask you to provide receipts or other documents.

What happens after I dispute a charge?

Once you’ve contacted your credit card issuer and if all the requirements are met, your issuer will investigate. 

While the investigation is happening, you may still see the charge on your statement and a temporary credit for the disputed amount. You shouldn’t have to make payments toward the disputed amount, but keep in mind that you’re still responsible for making payments toward the rest of your credit card balance during the investigation.

If the investigation is resolved in your favor, you won’t have to pay the disputed amount. But if it turns out that the disputed charge was valid or if there is insufficient information for your credit card issuer to confirm your claim, you still may be responsible for the charge. 

Disputes are one of many protections

The ability to dispute a credit card charge is a powerful consumer protection meant to prevent you from having to pay for billing errors. And knowing a bit more about how credit cards work can help you see where your charges are coming from and possibly even help you identify mistakes you can dispute.

See if you’re pre-approved

Check for pre-approval offers with no risk to your credit score.

Get started

Related Content