How to reverse or cancel a credit card payment and get your money back
If you've paid with a credit card, you can dispute transactions and have charges reversed. Step 1: Call your bank.
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If you don't recognise a transaction, think you've been wrongly charged or have another problem with your credit card, there are ways to get it sorted out. First, contact your bank or credit card issuer as soon as possible to discuss the matter.
That way you can dispute any incorrect charges and have them reversed. And if you suspect your card has been stolen, you can then put a lock on it.
How do I cancel a credit card payment?
You have a few ways you can cancel or reverse a credit card payment, depending on how and when the payment is made.
- Cancelling payments that are scheduled for a future date. If you have a scheduled or recurring payment, you can usually cancel it by logging into your account and updating your payment details – or cancelling the service.
- Cancelling credit card payments for items or services you haven't received yet. If you want to cancel something like a travel booking or an online shopping order that hasn't been sent yet, contact the business directly. Depending on the cancellation policy, you may be offered a refund, store credit or another solution.
- Cancelling credit card payments for retail items. If you've already received the items, you can contact the business to ask for a refund, exchange or store credit. Note that you usually need to return an item unused to get a full refund, unless it was damaged or defective when you got it.
If you can't cancel a credit card payment before it is processed, there are other options – including disputing the transaction – which we'll go through below.
How do I dispute a transaction?
The process for lodging a dispute will vary by bank but the first. Some will let you provide the necessary information online, while you may need to call others. Below are some examples of the steps to take with different banks and lenders.
|Bank||How to lodge a dispute|
|NAB||Log into NAB internet banking and send a secure message using the ‘Mailbox’ option. Select ‘Electronic transaction dispute’ and fill out your request. You also have the options of printing a dispute form, mailing or faxing it to 1300 788 350, lodging the dispute over the phone at 13 22 65, or visiting a local branch.|
|St.George||You can lodge your dispute over the phone at 1300 304 040, by logging into internet banking, or by visiting any branch. Once logged in, select ‘Dispute a transaction’ underneath the ‘Did you know you can?’ tab and follow the prompts. You can also lodge the dispute by selecting the relevant account and selecting ‘Dispute a transaction’ underneath ‘Quicklinks’.|
|ANZ||Log into ANZ internet banking, select ‘Lodge a transaction dispute’ under your credit card account overview and follow the prompts. Otherwise, you can download and complete the ‘Customer transaction dispute form’ or call 13 22 73.|
|Commonwealth Bank||Call 13 2221 or visit any branch.|
|Citi||Call 13 24 84 or complete the ‘Dispute Investigation Request’ and upload using the document upload feature at citibank.com.au/upload (preferred) or by post to ‘Credit Card Disputes, Transaction Services GPO Box 40 Sydney NSW 2001’.|
|HSBC||Call 1300 308 008 or visit any branch. You can also download the ‘Transaction Dispute Form’ online, complete it and send it by fax to 02 8987 5956 or by post to GPO Box 4263 Sydney NSW 2001.|
|Westpac||Call 1300 651 089 or log into online or mobile banking. Select your credit card, select the particular transaction, and then ‘Dispute this transaction’ on the transaction detail page.|
What transactions can I dispute?
It is your right as a consumer and account holder to dispute a variety of credit card errors that include:
- Unauthorised transactions. Any transactions that were not made or authorised by you or an additional cardholder.
- Fraudulent transactions. A transaction that you believe was made fraudulently.
- Inconsistencies. Items on your statement that do not match the item amounts on your receipt.
- Mistakes. Transactions that were mistakenly charged to your account more than once.
- Refunds. Refunds or credits that have not been processed, or that were wrongly processed as debits.
- Cancellations. Charges for a reservation you made but cancelled within the cancellation period.
- Cancelled auto-payments. A cancelled automatic payment that is still being deducted.
- Faulty or defective goods. Goods that you paid for but have not received, have been delivered but are not as they were described to be or that arrived to you faulty or defective.
- Unfulfilled services. Services that have not been rendered or orders that were never delivered.
- ATM errors. An ATM withdrawal that dispensed the incorrect amount of money.
What to do next
Once you have contacted your provider, explain the problem as clearly as possible so that they understand exactly what's wrong. Also mention how you would prefer the issue to be resolved.
Ensure that you are polite and keep calm when talking to members of staff. While the problem that you're facing may be frustrating, customer service representatives are there to help and resolve your issues, and getting angry may cause new problems on top of the problems that you're already facing.
It's also a good idea to keep notes of the conversation and write down who you are talking to. And have your supporting documentation at hand in case they ask you some questions about it.
Raising a dispute is usually straightforward and most complaints will be resolved at this stage.
What should I check before I dispute a transaction?
Firstly, make sure there is actually an error by going through these steps:
- Check all your receipts and transaction records for the period in question, and pay close attention to listings for the same retailer or financial institution. Keep in mind that some transactions may not be processed on the same day.
- See if you can match the charge to something you bought around the same time, because some merchants have different billing names and trading names. Tip: You can search the Australian Business Register for more information about the merchant using the billing name on your statement.
- If you have an additional cardholder, check to make sure the purchase wasn’t theirs.
- If you recognise the biller but the amount does not match what you bought, check your receipt to see if currency conversion rates or other fees were applied.
- If the transaction was for an automatic payment or direct debit that you recently cancelled, contact the business to ask about the charge. Some contracts specify cut-off dates for cancelling regular payments and sometimes there are processing errors if the cancellation happens after the date a payment is usually deducted – but the business can help you figure out what has happened.
If you are still unable to resolve the issue after doing all of the above, contact your bank or credit card provider to start an investigation or chargeback request.
What happens after my dispute is lodged?
You will receive confirmation from the bank once they have received your request for a dispute resolution. At this point it may be necessary for you to sign a form authorising their investigation which you will need to return to the bank in a specified time frame. They will also likely ask that you send them certain documentation in order for them to properly investigate the dispute. If you fail to provide them with all necessary information your dispute will likely not be successful.
Once you have lodged your credit card dispute with your bank, you can expect it to go through these three stages:
|Dispute Item Raised||Dispute Resolution Credit||Dispute Item Resolved|
|The transaction in question is being reviewed.||Your account is credited with the correct amount of money.||The bank is no longer reviewing the transaction.|
What’s the difference between a chargeback and a disputed transaction?
There is a distinct difference between a chargeback to your account and a transaction that needs to be disputed by the bank:
A chargeback refers to purchases made using a debit directly from your bank account. If such an error is made, you should first try and resolve it yourself directly with the retailer. If not, your bank will dispute the claim with the retailer’s bank but only if you ask within 30 days of the transaction. Make sure that you are prepared to provide the bank with all of the information you have about the transaction and be aware that you might be charged a fee for this service.
This term is used for credit purchases where a charge appears on your statement that you believe was made in error, is in the wrong amount, or is for goods that you ordered but were unable to use.
What if I'm not happy with the way a dispute is handled?
Raising a dispute is usually straightforward and most complaints will be resolved once you contact your bank or credit card provider.
If you're not happy with the way a dispute is handled, you can escalate it by making a formal complaint. You can do this in writing to the customer relations manager or complaints manager. Simply request this person's contact details from your bank or card issuer.
In your letter or email, you should:
- Include the word "complaint" in the heading or subject line
- State your name, contact details and the date
- Write a clear explanation of the problem
- Attach copies of relevant documents, such as receipts or invoices (keep the originals)
- Keep a copy of the complaint letter and document when you sent it
How to make a formal complaint to AFCA (independent ombudsman service)
If your provider still fails to resolve your dispute, then you can take further action by contacting the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). This is an independent ombudsman service that provides free dispute resolution for individuals and small businesses.
You can submit a complaint through the website by filling in a detailed form. This will start the complaints resolution process. Alternatively, you can use one of the following options to contact AFCA directly if you have questions about your situation:
- Phone: 1800 931 678 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT)
- Interpreter service: 131 450
- Email: email@example.com
- Online chat: Available through the AFCA website (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm AEST/AEDT)
Limitations for complaining to AFCA
There are some limitations to what you can complain about to AFCA. For example, you:
- Cannot complain about the level of an overdrawn fee
- Cannot complain about an interest rate increase
- Must make the complaint within six years after you first became aware, or "should reasonably have become aware", of the issue you want to complain about
- Have to complain to AFCA within two years of getting an internal dispute resolution (IDR) response from your financial firm (this is only if you have already complained directly to your financial firm through its IDR process)
If you are unsure as to whether your complaint is valid, AFCA recommends that you still submit your information and it will contact you regarding the matter.
What happens after I've lodged a complaint with AFCA?
After you've lodged a complaint with AFCA, it will start a complaint resolution process. This includes the following steps:
1. Registration and referral
This will consist of AFCA either forwarding your complaint automatically to the credit provider or contacting you directly for further clarification on the issue.
Your provider will then have a timeframe to work directly with you to reach a resolution. If you have not already complained to your credit issuer directly, your issuer will have a timeframe to reach a resolution with you. For financial difficulty cases, this is up to 21 days, up to 90 days for superannuation or traditional trustees and for all other complaints, it's 45 days. If a resolution is not come to, the financial firm provides an IDR (internal dispute resolution) response to AFCA.
If you have already attempted to reach a resolution internally, your provider will be given up to 30 days to reach a resolution with you. If a resolution is not come to, the financial firm will provide an EDR (external dispute resolution) response to AFCA.
2. Case management
If your complaint is within AFCA's guidelines, it will assess the monetary value of the dispute (low or high), whether it is a single issue complaint and whether you are experiencing financial difficulty. The complaint is then filed into one of three categories:
- Fast track. These are low-value, single-issue complaints. Fast-tracked complaints are normally resolved by negotiation only.
- Standard and complex. These are for high-value complaints or multiple issues. Standard and complex complaints are resolved by negotiation or telephone conciliation.
- Financial difficulty. Financial difficulty complaints are normally resolved by telephone conciliation.
Coming to a decision can be quite a lengthy process, depending on the issue type and how either party responds to AFCA's negotiation. Decision time-frames are as follows:
- Fast track. Initial contact can take up to three days and both parties are given up to seven days to provide sufficient information pertaining to the complaint. The negotiation then takes place over a further four weeks. If no resolution is come to, an adjudicator reviews the complaint, which can take up to two weeks.
- Standard and complex. Initial contact can take up to seven days, information pertaining to the complaint can be provided in up to three weeks, and a preliminary assessment is provided by AFCA over four to eight weeks. If either party rejects the assessment, an ombudsman or panel reviews the complaint and makes a decision over a further four weeks.
- Financial difficulty. Initial contact can take up to three days and both parties are given up to two weeks to provide sufficient information pertaining to the complaint. If the complaint can't be resolved through conciliation, a preliminary assessment will be provided by AFCA over the phone, which can take three to six weeks. If either party rejects this, an ombudsman reviews the complaint, which can take a further four weeks.
Remember that this process is only necessary if you cannot reach a resolution with your bank or credit card provider directly. Normally these matters are settled quickly and without help from AFCA.
However, should your problems continue, you can get closure on the dispute with AFCA's help. Just be aware that it can take some time.
What can I dispute?
There are a number of reasons that people commonly raise disputes with their credit card issuers. Under AFCA's guidelines, the valid reasons to raise a dispute with your bank or credit card issuer include:
- Incorrect fees or charges. This could be a late payment fee that has been misapplied to your account or a fee that you believe was miscalculated.
- Misleading or incorrect information. Your bank or credit card issuer provided you with false information or misled you in some way about a product.
- Financial hardship. You're facing financial hardship and can't make repayments.
- Contesting the responsibility of your provider. You believe that your bank or credit card issuer has made irresponsible decisions. This could be lending irresponsibly or pursuing a debt in a way that you deem unfair.
- You gave instructions that weren't followed. You provided your credit card issuer with specific instructions and they were not followed to your satisfaction.
- Unauthorised transactions. There are transactions on your account that you did not make. This could be a mistake of the issuer or potential identity fraud.
- Confidentiality breaches. You suspect that your customer confidentiality was breached by the issuer or that your private data may have been sold on.
If your problem is not listed, you should still raise your concerns to your bank or credit card issuer. Customer service representatives are there to help you, so even if you're unsure about something, it's best to contact them regardless.
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Frequently asked questions
How long does it take to resolve a dispute?
It will depend on the bank and the circumstances, but the bank should be keeping you informed of their progress during the process. Expect it to take no less than a month, and in many cases even longer, for the charge to be removed from your account.
When should I lodge the dispute?
After checking over your own records to make sure that there is indeed an error, you should lodge the dispute immediately. This should be no more than 30 days after the date of the statement on which the error appears.
Should I still make payments towards my credit card while a dispute is under investigation?
Yes, you should continue with your payments as normal in order to avoid late fees or added interest.
What do I do if the dispute is not resolved in my favour?
Documentation from the merchant will be presented to your bank and then forwarded to you if they feel your dispute has no merit. You can either accept this and pay the charge, or opt to continue to dispute the transaction by providing evidence which negates theirs.
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