4 Things You Need to Know About Disputing a Credit Card Charge

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on April 19, 2021

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Have a bogus charge on your credit card? Here are some things you should know.

You may have a month when you check your credit card statement only to see that you've racked up a ton of charges. But if your ending balance looks unusually high, you may want to dig deeper and review your statement line by line. The reason? There could be some bogus charges in the mix.

If you see expenses you either don't recognize or you know are fraudulent, you have the right to dispute those credit card charges. Here are a few things you should know about that process.

1. You generally have 60 days to dispute a charge

If you see an erroneous charge on your credit card, it's best to act quickly because you only have a limited window of time to dispute a credit card charge. Generally, that's 60 days, but you'll need to check your credit card agreement to see what your specific time frame is.

2. You can't dispute a charge until it actually goes through

If you check your credit card balance regularly, you may come across a fraudulent or erroneous charge before it even posts to your account. In that case, you'll see it as a pending charge. Unfortunately, though, you can't initiate a dispute while a charge is in pending status. Rather, you'll need to wait for it to fully go through to dispute it.

3. You don't have to pay for a charge that's under dispute

It can take some time for a credit card company to resolve a disputed charge. The good news is that you're not required to pay for a disputed charge while your credit card company is investigating it.

4. You can work with a merchant directly in the event of fraud or error

Disputing an erroneous charge with your credit card company is a smart thing to do. But it's also not your only option. You can also contact the merchant behind the charge and see if you can resolve things directly -- either before you dispute the charge or while it's under dispute.

Say you spend $100 at a given merchant one month, and your credit card ends up with two separate $100 charges. Sometimes, purchases are double-billed by mistake, but if you call the merchant, there's a good chance it can undo the second charge right away. Similarly, if you see a fraudulent charge, you can contact the merchant and ask for it to be reversed. To avoid credit card fraud you may also want to have the merchant flag your account in case the person who stole your credit card number tries to make another purchase.

As a consumer, you have certain rights, including the right to not have to pay for credit card charges you didn't make. Now that you know a little more about disputing credit card charges, you may not panic quite as much the next time you see a line item on your statement you don't recognize or you know is just not legitimate.

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