A Complete List of Credit Card Chargeback Codes and What They Mean
Chargebacks are a part of business life. If you accept credit cards, you accept that some customers will request refunds. And most go about it indirectly. It’s easier to contact their card issuer and file a chargeback—no need to go to you.
If the chargeback is decided in the customer’s favor, you lose the product or service and shipping charges. Not to mention you get penalized with chargeback fees.
And that’s just the beginning—the customer’s card issuer may also downgrade your merchant account. Downgrading can then make it more difficult and expensive to process future credit card payments.
Unfortunately, chargebacks cost roughly 0.47% of a merchant’s total revenue each year. The best way to counter them is to know them deeply.
Learning about each of the chargeback reason codes can help you dispute them. The better prepared you are, the more likely you are to win.
Getting to Know Chargebacks
Before we dive into chargeback codes, it is helpful to understand chargebacks themselves. Here we’ll cover some of the most frequently asked questions about chargebacks.
What are chargebacks?
A chargeback is a dispute filed by a cardholder with their credit card issuer. The cardholder is effectively asking the issuer for a refund of the transaction amount due to some perceived issue with the purchase.
How do I know if I’ve received a chargeback?
If you’ve received a chargeback, you should receive a notification from your payment processor. The notification will include the details of the chargeback and any documentation you may need to provide to fight the chargeback.
How can I fight chargebacks?
There are a few ways to fight chargebacks. You can provide documentation to your payment processor that proves the transaction was legitimate. Or, you can go through a chargeback representment process with the credit card issuer directly.
What is the difference between a chargeback and a refund?
A refund is when a customer requests their money back from the merchant. A chargeback is when a customer requests their money back from the credit card issuer.
Is there a time limit on fighting chargebacks?
Yes, there is a time limit on fighting chargebacks. Depending on the card issuer, merchants have somewhere between 20 days and 45 days from the transaction date. In most cases, the timeframe for cardholders and issuers is significantly longer, at 120 days. Visa and American Express, in most cases, give merchants 20 days. Mastercard gives you 45, and Discover gives you 30.
What Are Chargeback Reason Codes?
Chargeback reason codes are a set of numbers and letters indicating why a customer is requesting a refund for a purchase. Each code corresponds to a specific issue or problem the customer has experienced with the purchase. Here’s how they work.
When a customer files a chargeback, they select a reason, and their card issuer contacts the merchant with the reason code. The issuer asks for documentation related to the chargeback. This is usually in the form of an affidavit, which is a statement under penalty of perjury.
If you can provide compelling evidence that supports your case, you may be able to win the dispute. That means keeping the product or service and any associated shipping charges. Chargeback reason codes are one piece of evidence you can use to make your case. Each code corresponds to an issue or problem. Knowing these codes can help you dispute chargebacks more effectively.
If the chargeback is in the customer’s favor, the bank reverses the transaction and debits the business’s acquiring bank instead of crediting it. The credit then goes to the cardholder’s account. This can cause serious cash flow problems for a small business and lead to missed payments, penalties, and even bankruptcy.
How Do Chargebacks Codes Help Merchants?
Chargeback codes help businesses understand the issue and dispute chargebacks more effectively. They also help businesses track patterns and prevent future chargebacks.
For example, if you see a lot of chargebacks with the same code, you can take steps to prevent them in the future. Check if you’re using the correct transaction currency code. Maybe you need to improve your product descriptions or offer better customer support. Or you may need to review your cancellation policy or return policy.
If chargebacks are due to friendly fraud, you can take steps to prevent these counterfeit transactions too. For example, you might require a signature on delivery or offer insurance for digital products.
Chargebacks can be difficult to fight and often result in victory for the customer. That’s why small businesses need to understand how these codes work and what steps they can take to protect themselves from them.
What Are the Different Chargeback Reason Codes?
There are over 100 chargeback reason codes. However, for simplification, they are divided into eight categories:
- Fraudulent activity
- Authorization issues
- Processing errors
- Customer disputes
- Product or service issues
- Returned merchandise
- Non-receipt of merchandise or services
- Credit not processed
1. Fraudulent activity: Fraudulent processing of transactions includes chargebacks that occur when the cardholder didn’t make the purchase. For example, if their card was stolen or the magnetic stripe is copied and used without their knowledge. It also includes cases of friendly fraud, when the cardholder knowingly disputes a purchase to get a refund.
2. Authorization issues: Authorization issues are chargebacks that occur when the merchant didn’t get proper authorization for the purchase. For example, if the customer’s card expired or if the purchase amount exceeded their credit limit.
3. Processing errors: This category includes chargebacks that occur when there was an error in processing the transaction. For example, if an incorrect transaction amount was charged or if the transaction was processed twice. These errors often occur at the POS.
4. Customer disputes: Customer chargeback disputes include chargebacks that occur when the customer is dissatisfied with the product or service they received. For example, if it was damaged or if they never received it.
5. Product or service issues: These issues include chargebacks that occur when there is a problem with the product or service itself. For example, if it’s defective or if it doesn’t match the description given by the merchant.
6. Returned merchandise: This includes chargebacks that occur when the customer returns merchandise/services to the merchant. For example, if they changed their mind or if they received a defective product.
7. Non-receipt of merchandise or services: Here, chargebacks occur when the customer never received the merchandise or services they purchased. For example, if their order was lost in transit or if the merchant never delivered it.
8. Credit not processed: This category includes chargebacks that occur when the customer is entitled to a credit but doesn’t receive it. For example, if they cancel a service but the merchant doesn’t refund their money.
Chargeback Codes by Card Networks
Frustratingly, the card networks don’t use all the same chargeback codes. A code that means one thing on Visa might mean something completely different on Mastercard. This can make it difficult for merchants to keep track of all the different codes and their meanings.
To help simplify things, we’ve compiled a list of chargeback codes used by the four major card networks: Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover.
Visa chargeback reason codes
Visa chargeback codes are broken up into four categories:
- Fraudulent activity
- Authorization issues
- Processing errors
- Customer disputes
- 10.1 EMV Liability Shift Counterfeit Fraud
- 10.2 EMV Liability Shift Non-Counterfeit Fraud
- 10.3 Other Fraud: Card-Present Environment / Condition
- 10.4 Other Fraud: Card-absent Environment / Condition
- 10.5 Visa Fraud Monitoring Program
- 11.1 Card Recovery Bulletin
- 11.2 Declined Authorization
- 11.3 No Authorization
- 12.1 Late Presentment
- 12.2 Incorrect Transaction Code
- 12.3 Incorrect Currency
- 12.4 Incorrect Account Number
- 12.5 Incorrect Amount
- 12.6.1 Duplicate Processing
- 12.6.2 Paid by Other Means
- 12.7 Invalid Data
- 13.1 Merchandise / Services Not Received
- 13.2 Canceled Recurring Transaction
- 13.3 Not as Described or Defective Merchandise / Services
- 13.4 Counterfeit Merchandise
- 13.5 Misrepresentation
- 13.6 Credit Not Processed
- 13.7 Cancelled Merchandise / Services
- 13.8 Original Credit Transaction Not Accepted
- 13.9 Non-Receipt of Cash or Load Transaction Value
Mastercard chargeback reason codes
Mastercard chargeback codes are broken up into many categories, but there are four that relate most to merchants:
- Authorization-related chargebacks
- Point of interaction error
- No cardholder authorization/fraud-related chargebacks
- Installment billing dispute
- 4808 Warning Bulletin File
- 4808 Authorization-Related Chargeback
- 4808 Account Number Not on File
- 4808 Required Authorization Not Obtained
- 4808 Expired Chargeback Protection Period
- 4808 Multiple Authorization Requests
- 4808 Cardholder-Activated Terminal (CAT) 3 Device
Point of interaction error
- 4834 Point of Interaction Error
- 4834 Transaction Amount Differs
- 4834 Late Presentment
- 4834 Point-of-Interaction Currency Conversion
- 4834 Duplication/Paid by Other Means
- 4834 ATM Disputes
- 4834 Loss, Theft, or Damages
No cardholder authorization/Fraud-related chargebacks
- 4837 No Cardholder Authorization
- 4849 Questionable Merchant Activity
- 4870 Chip Liability Shift
- 4871 Chip / PIN Liability Shift–Lost / Stolen / Never Received Issue (NRI) Fraud
- Cardholder Disputes
- 4853 Cardholder Dispute of a Recurring Transaction
- 4853 Goods or Services Not Provided
- 4853 No-Show Hotel Charge
- 4853 Addendum Dispute
- 4853 Credit Not Processed
- 4853 Goods/Services not as Described or Defective
- 4853 Digital Goods $25 or less
- 4853 Counterfeit Goods
- 4853 Transaction Did Not Complete
- 4853 Credit Posted as a Purchase
Installment billing dispute
- 4850 Installment Billing Dispute
American Express chargeback codes
Unlike Visa and Mastercard, AmEx is the issuing bank and the card network. This means that American Express cardholders are American Express customers. The incentive for AmEx is then higher to keep them happy. Translation: it’s much harder for merchants to win consumer disputes.
American Express codes fit into five categories:
- Cardmember dispute
- Processing errors
- A01 Charge amount exceeds the authorization amount
- A02 No valid authorization
- A08 Authorization approval expired
- C02 Credit not processed
- C04 Goods/services returned or refused
- C05 Goods/services canceled
- C08 Goods / Services Not Received or Only Partially Received
- C14 Paid by Other Means
- C18 “No Show” or CARDeposit Canceled
- C28 Canceled Recurring Billing
- C31 Goods / Services Not as Described
- C32 Goods / Services Damaged or Defective
- M10 Vehicle Rental – Capital Damages
- M49 Vehicle Rental – Theft or Loss of Use
- FR2 Fraud Full Recourse Program
- FR4 Immediate Chargeback Program
- FR6 Partial Immediate Chargeback Program
- F10 Missing Imprint
- F14 Missing Signature
- F24 No Cardmember Authorization
- F29 Card Not Present Transaction
- F30 EMV Counterfeit
- F31 EMV List / Stolen / Non-received
Inquiry / Miscellaneous
- R03 Insufficient Reply
- R13 No reply
- M01 Chargeback Authorization
- P01 Unassigned Card Number
- P03 Credit Processed as Charge
- P04 Charge Processed as Credit
- P05 Incorrect Charge Amount
- P07 Late Submission
- P08 Duplicate Charge
- P22 Non-Matching Card Number
- P23 Currency Discrepancy
Discover chargeback codes
Like AmEx, Discover is both the issuing bank and the card network, making disputes more difficult for merchants.
Discover codes are broken up into five categories:
- Cardholder dispute
- Processing errors
- Not Classified
- AA Cardholder Does Not Recognize
- AP Canceled Recurring Transaction
- AW Altered Amount
- CD Credit Posted as Card Sale
- DP Duplicate Processing
- IC Illegible Sales Data
- NF Non-Receipt of Cash from ATM
- PM Paid by Other Means
- RG Non-Receipt of Goods or Services
- RM Quality Discrepancy
- RN2 Credit Not Received
- AT Authorization Non-compliance
- DA Declined Authorization
- EX Expired Card
- NA No Authorization
- IN Invalid Card Number
- LP Late Presentment
- NC Not Classified
- UA01 Fraud / Card Present Environment
- UA02 Fraud / Card-Not-Present Environment
- UA05 Fraud / Counterfeit Chip Transaction
- UA06 Fraud / Chip-and-Pin Transaction
- UA10 Request Transaction Receipt (swiped card transactions)
- UA11 Cardholder claims fraud (swiped transaction, no signature)
The Bottom Line
Chargebacks can be a major headache for both online and brick-and-mortar merchants. Understanding chargebacks is the first step to building a case for a dispute and countering potential fraud. Or, it can help to improve services that minimize customers requesting chargebacks, to begin with.
When a chargeback happens, you should obtain documentation from your payment processor. Then you can move forward with the dispute. In addition, your payment processor should also have several tools and services to fight chargebacks.
Payment Depot supports merchants to save on credit card processing fees and minimize chargebacks with chargeback and risk monitoring. Contact us today to learn about the services we offer to help protect your business.