What is a chargeback and when should I use it? 🤷🏻‍♀️

Maciej Lorek

 · 07/04/2018  · 07/04/2018

There's a lot of discussion around the chargeback process, so we decided to analyse the whole procedure: what it is, when and how to request it, and how long it takes.

Have you ever ordered something online, but then never received the goods? Or have you ever been charged for a declined transaction? Whatever the scenario, these situations can sometimes be a nightmare to deal with.

But don't lose it just yet; there's light at the end of the tunnel - and this is where chargebacks come in.

So, what is a chargeback exactly? 🤔

If you break down the word chargeback, you can pretty much guess that it's nothing more than a charge on your card that gets sent back to your account.

So, in a sense, a chargeback is similar to a refund because your funds are returned to your account. A chargeback differs because the return of funds happens only after you've successfully disputed a completed transaction with the merchant.

But before we talk about disputing transactions, there are a few important things you need to know about chargebacks:

A chargeback allows you to dispute a completed transaction with a merchant, if you were charged by mistake or if you were a victim of fraud

You should always try to resolve any issues directly with the merchant before requesting a chargeback - this should be reserved as a last resort to recover your funds

If all else fails, you can request a chargeback, but the process itself will be governed by your card network (Visa or MasterCard)

Back to basics - why and when would you dispute a transaction? 👨🏻‍⚖️

In an ideal world, you would never need to dispute a transaction because everything should work flawlessly, but in reality, things can sometimes go wrong. You may want to dispute a transaction if you:

😠 Get charged for a transaction that was declined by the merchant;

😠 Get charged in the wrong currency when paying the bill at a restaurant;

😠 Get goods delivered that weren't as described, were counterfeit or not delivered at all.

😠 Get charged for a fraudulent transaction

If you find yourself in any of these situations (and many others), you can choose to dispute one or more transactions on your account, by raising a chargeback.

Perfect. How do I raise a chargeback? 📲

If you have a Revolut account, the easiest way to raise a chargeback is to fill out our online chargeback form. This is the most important document in your chargeback case and you must be extremely careful to fill it out thoroughly, by providing open and honest information. Why is that?

✅ It clarifies the reason for your dispute;

✅ It provides us with important details to support your case;

✅ In most cases, the form is the most important documentation we exchange with the merchant.

You will also be asked to attach supporting documentation along with the form. Remember to provide all the relevant information and documentation to maximise our chances of a successful submission.

What documents should I submit for my chargeback? 📚

Think of raising a chargeback as a court trial, where you take on the role of the plaintiff and your bank/card issuer becomes your lawyer (for illustration purposes only). The merchant you're disputing the transaction with becomes the defendant and their bank or payment service provider becomes their lawyer. Lastly, the role of the judge will be played by the relevant card network (usually Visa or MasterCard).

And since a chargeback is similar to a day in court, you'll need to provide your ‘lawyer’ (in your case, Revolut) with evidence to support your case. So, while starting your chargeback process you should:

✅ Collect receipts

We know it's tempting not to ask for the receipt and keep the environment clean, but if anything goes wrong with your transaction, this is another form of proof that can help you build your case.

✅ Contact the merchant (not applicable for US users)

Always try to resolve a problem with the merchant first, before raising a chargeback and don’t forget to keep records of your conversation. This could come in handy during the dispute.

We can go on and on, but the idea we're trying to instill here is that the more supporting documents you have, the better your chances of winning the chargeback case.

Great. So, what happens next? ⚖️

After submitting the chargeback form, our Chargeback team will look into the details you provided and decide if there is sufficient evidence to raise a chargeback according to the chargeback rules for Visa and Mastercard. Our team might also need to reach out to you (through email and the in-app chat) to ask for more information. We will also be notifying you via email through every step of the way.

After raising the chargeback, there are two possible outcomes in this instance - the merchant can either accept the chargeback or they can choose to fight it. This means that:

✅ If the merchant has accepted the chargeback, any amount owed will be instantly credited back to your Revolut account.

🚫 If the merchant has proof against us, they can choose to dispute the chargeback by providing us with documents supporting their decision. If we can counteract their decision, we will ask you for more supporting documents.

How long does it take for a chargeback to be processed? ⏳

Chargebacks rely on a card network (acting as a judge in our financial lawsuit) to determine the outcome of a dispute. This also means that each card network will have slightly different rules and timeframes for providing this service.

Usually, a chargeback must be raised within 120 calendar days from the date of the transaction you're disputing, or from the agreed delivery date of your goods that never arrived.

Once the merchant has received the details of your case they must review it, read all supporting documentation and decide to accept or keep disputing the transaction. They have a specific time frame for that which is:

⏱ 45 calendar days from the chargeback date for MasterCard transactions

⏱ 30 calendar days from the chargeback date for Visa transactions

If the merchant decides to keep disputing the transaction, then it’s up to us to get in touch, and we’ll have one month to follow up on the issue and keep communication open. If we don’t reply within the defined period of time, our submission will  not be considered.

After our reply, in some cases, the merchant might still reject our claim and the case can be further escalated to Visa or Mastercard, which will act as the final judge for the case.

As you can see, this can be a challenging and time consuming process that may take up to around 12 weeks in some cases. That is why we ask you to look at the chargeback process after you explored other options:

  • For unrecognized payments try to remember if you made the transaction, if you lend the card to someone at the date/time the transaction was made
  • For refunds not received or faulty goods try to sort the issue with the merchant
  • For ATMs issues the best escalation point would be to try to sort the issue with the ATM bank itself

And be patient in the meantime. Revolut is doing everything according to the rules laid out by the card networks and it is in our best interest to reach a favourable outcome for you.


So there you have it! If you still can’t remember making the transaction or you weren’t able to solve the problem with the merchant please fill out our online chargeback form now that you've got all the information you need to make the process as smooth as possible.