Merchandise chargeback requirements for Mastercard & Visa

Updated April 17, 2017

Credit cards offer buyers protection when purchasing merchandise. If you buy something that is not what you thought it would be or turns out be faulty, you can file a chargeback. Chargebacks are not always the easiest way to alleviate the situation, but if no other alternative can be found, chargebacks offer buyers protection when certain requirements are met.

Reasons to file a chargeback

When you buy or order something and that item turns out to be faulty or not exactly what you were expecting it may be time to file a chargeback. In some cases it may be a billing error or dispute that also will arise in a chargeback. Most merchants try to prevent chargebacks and will work with the purchaser to avoid a chargeback situation. Mastercard and Visa offer protection on your purchase that support the chargeback process.


When submitting a chargeback, your best defence is proper documentation according to Visa card representatives. Keeping copies of all dispute correspondence and pictures of the damaged or incorrect merchandise will also help your cause. Invoices and receipts are also important to document the purchase date, since many card companies and issuing banks put a time limit on the ability to file the dispute.


After determining that you want to file a chargeback, for whatever reason, your will need to follow a certain process. Visa or Mastercard debit cards may require that you start with your local bank when filing a chargeback, but they may refer you to the credit card process below.

  1. After examining the merchandise and determining that it is defective, you will first want to contact the vendor and explain the situation. Try to reach an agreement and be sure to document the call or contact them in writing such as e-mail

  2. If you cannot reach an agreement, contact the credit card company that you used to make the purchase and tell them the situation. Discuss the contact you made and the efforts you made to resolve the situation. They will ask if you want to open a case to start the process.

  3. Provide the requested documentation by the credit card company and then you wait. If you win the card issuer may issue a full refund or a provisional credit until they make their final decision which may take up to 45 days.

Pros and cons

While filing a chargeback is a protection that is offered to you as a buyer, you need to keep in mind that there are also cons that go with the situation. They vendor may decide to no longer sell to you. They may also fight the charge at which time the situation may move to arbitration and may end up costing you money if you lose.

Documentation is key to winning a chargeback case and proving your case.

Expert insight

In several instances with my cosmetics business I would receive faulty merchandise. In some cases the seller or vendor was not willing to return the items, in which case I had to file a chargeback. Because of good documentation of the transaction I did not have any problems with winning. The key was being patient and to keep checking on the status.

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About the Author

Charline King is a corporate travel coordinator for a health care facility. She has more than 10 years of experience in marketing, event planning, travel coordination, and public relations. She currently publishes on eHow, and writes five blogs. King attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and has a degree in mass communications.