Chargeback Time Limits - Credit Card Comparisons

December 20, 2022
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by Nathan Fainsod

For many online business owners, chargebacks pose a serious problem. Not only are they a source of unnecessary loss of revenue, but there are also time limits that must be met. In fact, each card network has its own self-imposed chargeback time limit. Failure to adhere to these deadlines will lead to an automatic loss for the merchant. 

This article will cover the main card networks in the U.S. and their chargeback time limits. We will look at the following stages of the chargeback process and how they differ by credit card. 

  • Chargeback time frame - How long does a credit card holder have to request a chargeback following a transaction
  • Merchant Response - How long does the business have to provide evidence to defend against the chargeback
  • Pre-Arbitration - The length of time an issuer has to submit more evidence to refile a chargeback on behalf of a cardholder
  • Arbitration - Final stand for either the merchant or issuer seeking a decision ruled in their favor, coming at an additional cost for the losing side. 

Visa Chargebacks

Visa allows cardholders to file a chargeback up to 120 days after a transaction occurs. Once a chargeback has been filed, a merchant has 30 days to respond to the claim. The issuing bank then has 30 days to respond with additional evidence. Finally, if either party wishes to take the claim to arbitration, 10 days are provided. Visa aims to resolve chargeback claims within 31 days on average. 


Customers Time Frame Merchant Response Pre-Arbitration Arbitration
Visa 120 days 30 days 30 Days 10 days


MasterCard Chargebacks

The MasterCard chargeback time limit is similar to Visa. The time limit for a customer to file a chargeback ranges from 90-120 days. This is dependent on the reason for the chargeback. However, when it comes to the merchants’ response, the MasterCard chargeback time limit is 45 days. Additionally, 45 days are given for pre-arbitration, and the final arbitration is given 30 days. 


Customers Time Frame Merchant Response Pre-Arbitration Arbitration
MasterCard 120 days 45 days 45 Days 30 days

American Express Chargebacks

American Express chargeback time limit is different from that of Visa and MasterCard. This is because it follows a closed-loop model, where the network is also the issuer. This results in a faster approach to dealing with chargebacks. Amex offers customers 120 days after a transaction to file a chargeback. Merchants are then given 20 days to provide a response. 

However, Amex still uses a ‘soft chargeback’ process called a retrieval request, where a customer can request information for an unrecognized transaction. For this, Amex stipulates a 20 days’ time limit to provide information. There are no formal time limits given by Amex for the arbitration period. 


Customers Time Frame Retrieval Request   Merchant Response Arbitration
American Express 120 days 20 days 20 days -

Discover Chargebacks

Similar to Amex, Discover also operates under a closed-loop model. Discover also provides 120 days for customers to submit a chargeback request. Merchants then have 30 days to provide evidence against the chargeback. Following this, 30 days are given for pre-arbitration and only 15 days for final arbitration. 


Customers Time Frame Merchant Response Pre-Arbitration Arbitration
Discover 120 days 30 days 30 Days 15 days


What happens if a merchant misses the chargeback time limit deadline?

The short answer is if the deadline is missed, the merchant’s case is thrown out. There are usually no appeals available. As a result, merchants need to ensure that they are aware of how long they have and try to get their evidence together and submitted before the deadline. This is where most businesses will struggle due to a lack of prior planning and preparation.


Bottom Line

It’s quite clear to see how dealing with chargebacks and the time limits for the different card providers can quickly become difficult. That is why chargeback management tools can help businesses deal with the process much more easily. One such chargeback solution is Justt. Using a customized solution, Justt can ensure that any deadlines are met without effort on the part of business owners. As a completely automated solution, and with Justt offering total chargeback protection for merchants, chargebacks become one less thing to worry about. 

To learn more about how chargebacks can be better managed to help reclaim lost revenue, read more on the Justt blog.

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