What to Do If Credit Card is Charged the Wrong Amount
Credit card errors are more common than you’d think and luckily, they’re pretty easy to deal with. If you discover your credit card was charged the wrong amount, don’t panic. Solving it is pretty simple, as long as you don’t delay.
First, confirm that your credit card was actually charged the wrong amount. Review the transactions on your credit card statement or your online credit card account and compare the amount to your receipt. For restaurant or other services, be sure you’re not forgetting to factor in any tips that you wrote on the merchant’s copy of the receipt.
Working with the Merchant to Resolve the Error
If you’ve concluded that you were actually charged the wrong amount, start by contacting the business where the error occurred. You may be surprised to find out how many merchants are willing to work with you to correct the incorrectly charged amount. That’s because if you go straight to the credit card issuer, the merchant may have to deal with a chargeback – a process that costs fees and can damage their standing with their bank. Most merchants would rather refund you directly rather than go through the chargeback process.
Let the merchant know the error – provide a copy of your receipt if you have it – and see if they can fix the error. Working with the merchant may give you a faster result since they have all the transaction information – which the credit card issuer will have to request anyway if you end up disputing through them. If the merchant agrees that you were charged the wrong amount, they’ll be able to refund the amount back to your card, give you a store credit, or give you back cash. Or, if the charge is actually correct, the merchant can explain why.
Disputing Charges With Your Credit Card Issuer
If you don’t have luck with the merchant, you can go directly to your credit card issuer. Be aware that you may not be able to dispute some charges depending on how long ago they occurred. Federal law limits billing error disputes to charges that appeared on a credit card statement within the past 60 days, but some credit card issuers may allow you to dispute charges older than that.
Federal law also dictates that you send your dispute in writing, but most credit card issuers will investigate and respond to your dispute if you make it by phone or online. Call the number on the back of your credit card, log in to your online account, or send a dispute letter to your credit card issuer (make sure to use the address for correspondence). Sending copies of any receipts or documentation supporting your claim will help you resolve the issue quickly.
Calling your credit card issuer to make your dispute is more convenient, but sending a letter (via certified mail) will help protect your rights if you need to take legal action against the credit card issuer. For example, you can take legal action if the credit card issuer doesn't respond in time or tries to bill you before returning the results of the investigation.
Once you’ve disputed the error with your credit card issuer, they’ll conduct an investigation to figure out whether you were indeed charged the wrong amount. The investigation can take a few days or several weeks depending on the complexity of your transaction and the merchant response time. In the meantime, you’re not required to pay the disputed amount until you’ve received a response from the credit card issuer. This only applies to the amount you’ve disputed. You must still make at least the minimum payment on all undisputed charges.
The credit card issuer will contact the merchant for any information they have pertaining to the transaction, a signed receipt, for example. Then, the card issuer will decide whether the charge is correct and either reverse the transaction or let you know why the charge is correct. If the charge is indeed correct, you’ll have to pay it.
Complaining to the Authorities
If you're still unsuccessful at resolving the transaction, even after going to the merchant and the credit card issuer, you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB will launch its own investigation and while they will not force the credit card issuer to pay you, getting a government agency involved can inspire the credit card issuer to resolve the error in your favor.