Last updated: 20/10/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

When you buy something, you generally assume you will get what you paid for. However, unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Goods might be delivered faulty, or at worst you could be the victim of a scam. That’s why certain payment cards come with a chargeback feature. This means that if you buy something but don’t get what you expected, the card issuer can claw your money back.

It’s been in the news recently following a spat between Ryanair and some of their customers, who used the feature for flights they couldn't board during lockdown in 2020.

Given this, we decided to put together a quick guide to explain exactly what chargeback is, how it works, and when you can use it.

In This Guide:

What is chargeback?

If you pay for something and don’t get what you were promised, you can use your card's chargeback scheme to try and get a refund from the retailer. It’s a scheme which, although not widely known, is widely available. This isn’t just available on credit cards either. Debit, credit and prepaid cards all have this feature as long as they are issued by Visa, Mastercard, or Amex.

When you submit a request for a chargeback, your bank will contact the vendor's bank. If the claim is successful, you will receive your refund in full.

What situations can I use chargeback in?

You should only make a request for chargeback once you have met two criteria. Firstly, you should have already attempted to get a refund from the vendor. Chargeback is a more complex and time-consuming process, so you will be making life easier for everyone (including yourself) by seeking a refund initially.

If this hasn’t worked, you need to be sure that there has been a breach of contract between yourself and the retailer. This means you could claim a chargeback if the...

  • Product you purchased was not delivered
  • Quality was far below what was advertised or the item did not work
  • Organisation has gone into administration and is therefore unable to fulfill the order
  • Order was done so fraudulently
  • Money taken from your account is incorrect or has happened more than once

How does chargeback work?

So, you’ve been short-changed for an item and the merchant isn’t going to budge. Here’s how the process works.

  1. You make the request with your bank, you can generally do this via an online form. Be sure to have any corresponding documentation to hand as evidence, you will probably need to provide the following:
    • Receipt of the item you bought complete with company name and what date you purchased the item
    • A description of the item you bought and how what you received differs from it
    • Any communication between yourself and the retailer about your refund request
  2. The bank will assess the claim and if they accept it, it will be sent to the card network (Visa, Mastercard or Amex)
  3. Your card network sends a refund request to the bank of the merchant
  4. If the merchant agrees, then you get your refund
  5.  If the merchant disagrees, then the request goes back to your bank and the dispute continues, with your card issuer eventually deciding who out of yours and the retailers bank should pay

Is chargeback the same as Section 75?

If you're trying to reclaim some money on your credit card, you’re likely to come across section 75 as well as chargeback. While they might seem similar, there are a few key differences

  • Section 75 is a law that guarantees you get a refund from your card provider should you not receive the goods services you are owed, meaning you have more legal protection
  • You can only use Section 75 for refunds between £100-£30,000, whereas chargeback can be used for any amount
  • Chargeback requires you to make a claim within 120 days of purchase but Section 75 has no such time limit
  • Section 75 only applies to credit cards, chargeback applies to a range of payment cards

What to do if my chargeback claim is unsuccessful?

If you make an unsuccessful claim that you believe has merit then you can always get in touch with the financial ombudsman who, if you’re lucky, will take up the case on your behalf.

You can find a link to the ombudsman's website here: https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/