How To Dispute a Credit Card Charge & Win


Today’s guest post comes to us from Mike. Enjoy! 
I’ve blogged about this topic more than once over the past few months. Why? Because I’m so disappointed at the number of posts I get on my forum about people who have been ripped off in a credit card or dispute credit report… not because their dispute wasn’t valid, but because they didn’t handle it the right way.

I remember the first credit card dispute I ever filed was when I was only 18. I had ordered what was supposed to be a new exercise device online, only to receive something in the mail that wasn’t as advertised. I filed the dispute with my credit card company but almost lost, because of a technicality in what I said when I filed. Fortunately, everything worked out in the end, but it taught me this lesson at a very early age: understand the credit card dispute rules!

Before you ever file a dispute on your credit card, you’re going to need to do a lot of homework first. If it’s your first time, I’ve created this 5 step template of what you will need to research:

Step One: Get your story straight

When we’re angry, it’s easy to blow our lid and act on impulse. This is bad to do in all areas of life, including these disputes. Why? Because you need to calm down and get your story straight. If you call up your credit card company rambling in rage, things may be misinterpreted and hence your dispute may be filed incorrectly, which I’ll talk about next…

Step Two: Categorize your complaint properly

There are two kinds of disputes; (1) billing errors, which cover a number of different things, and (2) disputes about the quality of the goods or services you received from the merchant. For each there are completely different rules and rights, so you need to thoroughly understand both and know where your dispute fits in. If it can be categorized as a type of billing error, all the better because you will be entitled to greater protections set forth by law.

Step Three: Gather your evidence

If a prosecutor goes to court with weak evidence he may lose his case. In the same way, if you go into the dispute without good evidence to support your side of the story, you may lose. Now there are some credit card disputes that are pretty clear cut, like those where your credit card was stolen, but for most others you may be required to produce evidence (receipts, pictures, emails sent to the merchant, etc. depending on the circumstances). This is most important with disputes about the quality of goods or services received, since those have the weakest laws behind them (basically you will be at the mercy of your credit card company, so make a strong case!).

Step Four: File your complaint

By having the above figured out beforehand, filing your complaint will be much more orderly and concise (and therefore, less chance for error). Many people including myself have filed our complaints over the phone without any problems. But I should warn you that the FTC website does say complaints need to be filed in writing. Therefore you should consider doing so if your anticipate this battle possibly turning ugly with the merchant.

Step Five: Stay on top of it

How fast (or slow) your dispute is handled varies, depending on the circumstances. Under most circumstances, 60 days from date of filing is the longest the credit card company can take, but I have had disputes be wrapped up in less than half that time.

Whatever the case, be on the lookout for mailings from your creditor: If they don’t rule in your favor, they will send a letter and typically you have only a matter of days to file a response, otherwise the dispute will automatically be closed.

Again, I want to reiterate that this is just a summary, and you have a lot of research to do, but hopefully these five steps act as sort of road map to get you started.

How about you all? Have you ever had to dispute a credit card charge? Did you win or lose? Could you have used one of these tips to strengthen your argument?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – This is a very complete post in my mind on how to handle disputing credit card charges the right way! The only thing I would add is to remember one thing – the credit card companies are facing extreme competition right now.

If you feel that the credit card company is being unreasonable in handling your dispute, I would threaten to take my business elsewhere because I would want to work with a company that is more understanding.


  1. Rochelle says:

    I dont know what to do right now…… i was just ripped off from a ticket agent online for concert tickets. It definitely was an impulse buy but I figured if something goes wrong I can just do a charge back. Basically I paid $460 for 2 tickets and come to find out I could of gotten them from ticketmaster for $230.
    I called my credit card company after an hour to see if they could just cancel it but it was already pending and she couldn't . I did state to my credit card compay about disputing it because of the price gauge. She said I couldn't do anything yet until after 4 days.
    Ofcourse it states on the website where I bought the tickets that under no circumstances will they do a refund…….but
    I did purchase the tickets over the phone they didn't get any signed documentation from me and they didn't get a faxed copy of my id.
    So my question is, do you think the credit card company will grant me back the money with my complaint of finding out that I paid twice as much then I should of
    or should I claim that it was fraud because proper identification wasn't taken?

    • Very interesting situation. Sorry to hear about getting gauged on the price like that!

      I think that you are probably out of luck on this one though, unfortunately. In my experience, you can only reverse charges on a credit card if someone gets your credit card info and makes purchases without you knowing. I don't think they will reverse the charges simply because of a change of mind.
      My recent post Best Ways to Get Started With Investing Online

    • Hi Rochelle,

      I am in a similar situation. Were you able to dispute the charge as a “Fraudulent” charge? Thanks!

  2. While traveling in Europe my son opened a bar tab, signed one ticket for around $200, after about 4 hours he got his credit card back and left with his wife, brother in law and sister. Three days later while checking his statement online the merchant charged over $40,000 to his account. A report was filed immediately and after 60 days the Chase representative said the merchant would not refund the money, my son filed another dispute and after piles and piles of paperwork they again have declined to remove the purchases.

  3. My son has witness's and Chase is saing the excuse that because my son informed them he would be traveling this basically opened the “flood” gates to his fraud protection. His available balance was $22,000 yet they accepted over 6 swipes of his card within hours with the only thing written on the receipts was drinks. The story of the merchant has changed at first saying he was with a large group of business people then that he was a banker, never identifying the accurate grouop of 4 he was with.They give no explaination of why this card would have not been declined after the first few large dollar swipes except that people spend more on vacation! Ten times his normal spending average balance. Even the attorney general has intervened and Chase refuses to remove the charges. How can this be possible?

    • Wow! That's quite a wild and unfortunate story Kathy! This is actually one of the first times I've ever heard of a credit card company refusing to correct an apparent case of fraud. Have you heard any updates on what's going to become of the charges?

  4. Cody Felice says:

    I purchased automotive glass after my car was broken into in January. I purchased new glass from a regional provider, i was extremely unhappy with the installation. The glass was further broken into about 5,000 pieces and when the installer replaced the glass he got grease all over my headliner. After two weeks and vacuuming the glass out of every crack in my car i noticed that the rear glass was leaking into my trunk. I called the company who said that they would be out with in the week. Two weeks later I call and no one ever gets back to me and they say “it was a preexisting condition.” I disputed the charge, but now the merchant has charged the amount back to me. I need help writing a letter back to Visa so I do not have to pay for the charge.

  5. My story is similar to Rochelle's, in that it involves Ticketmaster. So a band announced they were doing a VIP Meet & Greet on their upcoming tour, which I was interested in. I couldn't find the specifics on the Ticketmaster site so I called up a representative, who after some confusion was able to confirm where I could buy these “Platinum Passes” on the Ticketmaster site. After that phone conversation I went ahead and ordered the tickets. Two weeks later I find out (through a series of facebook posts) that the tickets people were getting were twice as much as I had paid. So I called back Ticketmaster only to find out that the agent was “misinformed” and all I got were regular tickets (they just came with a parking pass and some other tiny upgrade.) After that, I called a few times, but its sort of a “my word against theirs” situation. I asked them to obtain the recording of the initial call to prove my case, but all they keep saying is that that request is “in process”. So I filed a dispute claim and am waiting to see how that turns out. The interesting thing is that yesterday, out of the blue, I got a callback offering me a $30 refund…so suddenly they're willing to help when before they wouldn't budge at all. I suspect they may have found the phone call, but can I get access to that? If I had that as proof, I'd go forward with the dispute, but if the dispute fails, I'd be better off negotiating with Ticketmaster to see how much they will refund. It's a sticky situation and I'm not sure which avenue to pursue…do I negotiate and get something back, or do I stay with the dispute in the hopes of getting it all back?

  6. Brittney says:

    I purchased a deal through living social for a hotel, and after arriving to the hotel and seeing the disgusting condition it was in I decided I was not comfortable staying there. Living social advertised this hotel as a resort/spa with lush amenities and painted a picture that sounded amazing. When I got to the hotel it lived up to nothing that was promised through living social. Once home, I wrote living social a letter explaining my horrible experience and asked for a refund, and they said because my request was made outside their refund policy, it was denied. How can I dispute this through my credit card company?

    • I'm not familiar with the policy for how to dispute that sort of ordeal with the credit card company. However, you might try Living Social once more to see if you can dispute it there, since the problem was on their end and that it was not advertised correctly.

      Maybe try calling back and asking for a “manager?”
      My recent post Sensible Spending and Saving For You And Your Family

  7. Workedbypros says:

    1/2 I bought a bronze sculpture from an Antiques store in NY after being told that it was very rare, bought from a deceased estate, came from Italy, etc. and given a huge discount from the ticket price (which indicated rarity, value, etc.) Merchant charged more than the agreed deposit (and attempted to charge even more). Stupidly, I signed both of the charges (the agreed one and the other). I then did my homework and found out that this is a mas produced item and worth about 25% of the (massively discounted) price they charged me.

  8. Workedbypros says:

    2/2I contacted them within 36 hours to undo the transaction – no luck, then went through a long process with MasterCard, who refused a chargeback on the basis that I did not pay the balance (i.e. I need to pay significantly more than the deposit to receive something worth about what the deposit was in order to then dispute on the quality). The merchant was dishonest in many ways but I seems that I have no recourse since the people who handled the claim for me (I live in Europe) proceeded on the basis of “goods not received” even though I made it very clear that the issue at stake was quality of the product/lies in advertising. Any suggestions on how to proceed is welcome, pls.

    • Thanks so much for your comment Workedbypros!

      I'm curious – was the deposit needed to secure the item? Or, was it like a downpayment on a payment plan?
      My recent post The Plaintiff’s Options When Receiving a Structured Settlement Annuity

  9. Hi,

    I bought a sofa and love seat from a local market. Salesperson showed me one with fabric and recliner which he had in the store. Since I wanted something in leather, he showed me a leather sofa on a catalogue and told it’s exactly same the one he showed but in leather. We took pictures of the sofa and after coming home realized this one didn’t had recliners. I went back and salesperson said he meant same company and quality and not same features when he told “it’s same sofa in leather”. Owner simply refused to listen to me or make some adjustments.

    Only mistake I did was not to read the description of sofa salesperson showed me and I went by what he said. Also, order receipt just says “Sofa with love seat”. Model number/other details are not mentioned in the receipt.

    My question:
    1. when shall I file dispute? now or one I receive the sofa. If I win the dispute, will it be responsibility of seller to take the sofa back or I will have to return it?
    2. What are the chances I will win the dispute?
    3. Can seller still ask money from me or sent it to collection?



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