Guest Blogger
Table of contents

Credit card and debit card disputes can be a frustrating and costly experience for merchants. When a customer disputes a charge, it can result in a chargeback, which means that the merchant must return the funds to the customer, along with any associated fees. 

While credit card disputes and debit card disputes may seem similar, there are important differences between the two that merchants need to understand.

In this article, we will explore the differences between credit card and debit card disputes and the implications they have for merchants. We will discuss the legal and financial differences between the two, as well as the different types of disputes and the timeframes for responding to them. We will also provide tips on how merchants can prevent disputes and best practices for responding to them.

Merchants need to understand these differences and take steps to prevent disputes as they can have a significant impact on a business's bottom line and reputation. By taking the time to understand credit card and debit card disputes and implementing strategies to prevent them, merchants can protect themselves and their businesses. 

So, let's dive into the world of credit card and debit card disputes and explore what you need to know as a merchant.

Credit Card Disputes

A credit card dispute occurs when a customer disputes a charge on their credit card statement. The reasons for disputes vary, from fraud to simple misunderstandings. However, as a merchant, it's important to understand the process and how to handle disputes properly to avoid financial loss and reputational damage.

How Credit Card Disputes Work

Credit card disputes typically start when a customer contacts their credit card issuer to dispute a charge. The issuer will then contact the merchant's acquiring bank, which in turn contacts the merchant to request information about the transaction in question. 

Merchants must respond to these requests promptly and provide all relevant information, including receipts, order information, and communication with the customer.

Common Reasons for Credit Card Disputes

Credit card disputes can arise for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common reasons include:

  • Fraudulent charges
  • Unauthorized charges
  • Merchandise not received
  • Merchandise not as described
  • Duplicate charges
  • Billing errors

Types of Credit Card Disputes

There are two types of credit card disputes: chargebacks and retrieval requests.

  • Chargebacks occur when a customer disputes a charge and their credit card issuer reverses the transaction. Chargebacks can be initiated for a variety of reasons and can result in financial loss for the merchant.
  • Retrieval requests occur when a customer requests more information about a transaction before disputing it. Merchants must respond promptly to retrieval requests to avoid chargebacks.

Timeframes for Responding to Credit Card Disputes

Merchants must respond to credit card disputes within a certain timeframe to avoid financial loss. The timeframe varies depending on the type of dispute and the credit card issuer. However, merchants should respond to disputes as quickly as possible to avoid chargebacks and maintain their reputation.

Debit Card Disputes

A debit card dispute occurs when a customer questions a transaction made with their debit card. The customer may claim that they did not authorize the transaction or that the merchant did not deliver the promised goods or services. The customer can initiate a dispute by contacting their bank or financial institution and providing details of the transaction in question.

Common Reasons for Debit Card Disputes

There are several common reasons why customers may initiate a debit card dispute. These include:

  1. Fraudulent transactions: Customers may dispute transactions if they believe their debit card has been used fraudulently.
  2. Unrecognized transactions: Customers may dispute transactions that they do not recognize or remember making.
  3. Non-delivery of goods or services: Customers may dispute transactions if they did not receive the goods or services that they paid for.
  4. Defective goods or services: Customers may dispute transactions if they received defective or unsatisfactory goods or services.
  5. Double charges: Customers may dispute transactions if they have been charged twice for the same transaction.

Types of Debit Card Disputes

There are two types of debit card disputes: authorization and settlement disputes.

Authorization disputes occur when the customer claims that they did not authorize the transaction. 

Settlement disputes occur when the customer claims that the merchant did not deliver the goods or services as promised. Settlement disputes are typically more difficult to resolve than authorization disputes.

Timeframes for Responding to Debit Card Disputes

Merchants have a limited amount of time to respond to a debit card dispute. The timeframes vary depending on the reason for the dispute and the bank or financial institution involved. Merchants should always check with their payment processor or acquirer for specific timeframes.

Differences between Credit Card and Debit Card Disputes

As a merchant, it's important to understand the differences between credit card disputes and debit card disputes. While both types of disputes involve customers disputing charges, several key differences can affect the outcome of the dispute and the impact on your business.

Legal Differences

One of the main differences between credit card disputes and debit card disputes is the legal framework that governs them. Credit card disputes are governed by the Fair Credit Billing Act, which outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the cardholder and the credit card issuer. Debit card disputes, on the other hand, are governed by Regulation E, which provides similar protections for debit cardholders.

Financial Differences

Another key difference between credit card disputes and debit card disputes is the financial impact on your business. In a credit card dispute, the credit card issuer may issue a chargeback, which means that the disputed funds are taken from your merchant account and returned to the cardholder. 

With debit card disputes, the disputed funds are typically frozen in the cardholder's account until the dispute is resolved. This means that you may experience a cash flow impact with credit card disputes, while debit card disputes may have a more immediate impact on the customer's access to their funds.

Liability Differences

Credit card disputes and debit card disputes also have different liability implications for merchants. With credit card disputes, merchants may be held liable for fraudulent transactions if they can't provide sufficient evidence that the transaction was legitimate. 

Debit card disputes, on the other hand, are typically the responsibility of the cardholder's bank, although merchants may still be held liable for certain types of fraudulent transactions.

Dispute Resolution Process Differences

Finally, the dispute resolution process for credit card disputes and debit card disputes can also differ. With credit card disputes, the cardholder initiates the dispute with the credit card issuer, who then contacts the merchant to resolve the issue. Debit card disputes are typically initiated by the cardholder's bank, which then contacts the merchant to resolve the issue.

Merchants' Rights and Responsibilities

As a merchant, you have certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to credit card and debit card disputes. Understanding these can help you navigate the dispute resolution process more effectively and protect your business from financial losses and reputational damage.

Legal Rights of Merchants in Disputes

Under the Fair Credit Billing Act and the Electronic Fund Transfer Act, merchants have the right to receive notice of a dispute within a certain timeframe, typically 60 days after the statement date on which the disputed transaction appears. Merchants also have the right to request and receive additional information from the cardholder to help resolve the dispute.

Merchants can also dispute chargebacks, although the process can be complicated and time-consuming. If a merchant believes that a chargeback was issued in error or that the cardholder did not follow the proper dispute resolution procedures, the merchant can submit evidence to the issuing bank to support their case.

Best Practices for Preventing Disputes

The best way to prevent disputes is to provide excellent customer service and clear communication throughout the transaction process. Merchants should ensure that their products and services are accurately described and that any terms and conditions are disclosed. It's also important to respond promptly to customer inquiries and complaints and to address any issues that arise in a timely and professional manner.

Tips for Responding to Disputes

When a dispute occurs, it's important to respond quickly and thoroughly. Merchants should carefully review the transaction details and any additional information provided by the cardholder before responding to the dispute. It's also important to provide clear and concise documentation to support the merchant's position and to respond within the required timeframe.

Merchants should also consider the potential impact of a dispute on their business and take steps to mitigate any financial or reputational damage. This may include issuing refunds, providing additional information to the cardholder, or disputing the chargeback if necessary.

Merchants' Responsibilities in Disputes

Merchants have a responsibility to provide accurate information and to respond promptly and professionally to any disputes that arise. Failure to do so can result in financial losses and damage to the merchant's reputation.

Merchants should also be aware of the potential for fraud and take steps to protect their business and their customers. This may include implementing fraud detection and prevention measures, such as address verification, CVV verification, and transaction monitoring.

Impact on Merchants

Disputes occur when a cardholder questions a transaction or claims that they did not authorize it. Chargebacks, which result from disputes, can have serious financial and reputational consequences for merchants. In this section, we will discuss the impact of disputes on merchants and how they can mitigate these effects.

Financial Impact

When a dispute occurs, the funds that were originally credited to a merchant's account are withdrawn and held in limbo while the dispute is investigated. This can cause cash flow problems for merchants, especially small businesses with limited resources. If the merchant is unable to cover the disputed amount, it can lead to financial strain and even bankruptcy.

Reputation Damage

Disputes can damage a merchant's reputation, especially if they are frequent or unresolved. Customers may view a high number of disputes as a sign that the merchant is untrustworthy or that their transactions are not secure. This can lead to a loss of customers and revenue.

Time and Resources

Dealing with disputes requires time and resources that merchants may not have. Responding to disputes and providing evidence can be time-consuming, and if the dispute is not resolved in the merchant's favor, they may need to spend additional time and resources to recover the funds. This can take away from the merchant's ability to focus on other important aspects of their business.

Chargeback Fees

In addition to losing the funds from the disputed transaction, merchants may also be charged a chargeback fee by the card issuer. These fees can range from $20 to $100 per chargeback and can quickly add up, especially if disputes are frequent.

To mitigate the impact of disputes, merchants can take several steps. Firstly, merchants can implement fraud prevention measures, such as using address verification systems or two-factor authentication, to reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions. 

Secondly, they can respond promptly to disputes and provide evidence that the transaction was legitimate. Merchants should also keep accurate records of all transactions and communication related to disputes.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, credit card disputes and debit card disputes are not identical. While they share some similarities, there are significant differences in how they work, the legal and financial implications for merchants, and the dispute resolution process.

As a merchant, it is important to understand these differences and take steps to prevent disputes from occurring. This includes maintaining accurate records, providing excellent customer service, and implementing fraud prevention measures. When disputes do occur, it is crucial to respond promptly and professionally, providing all necessary information and documentation to support your case.

Ultimately, the impact of disputes on a merchant's bottom line can be significant, both in terms of financial losses and damage to reputation. By understanding the differences between credit card and debit card disputes and taking proactive measures to prevent and respond to disputes, merchants can protect their businesses and ensure a positive experience for their customers.


Average Dispute Amount
Average Dispute Amount
# Disputes Per Month
# Disputes Per Month
Time Spent Per Dispute
Time Spent Per Dispute
You could recover
$500,000 and save
1,000 hours every month with Chargeflow!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Want to learn how Chargeflow can recover more money for you? Sign up and get a free dispute analysis

Related Articles

What's Chargeflow?

Try it for free

Full Dispute Automation

No more manual work, Chargeflow fully-automates your dispute process from A to Z.

Simple Integrations

We use official and secure API's from our approved partners. We also made it extremely easy to connect.


You get charged only when we help settle a dispute in your favor.


ChargeResponse® uses smart algorithms to generate the most comprehensive evidence response, with industry-leading recovery rates.


ChargeScore® uses proprietary algorithms to determine the chance of recovering each dispute.

Actionable Analytics

In-depth disputes statistics at your fingertips.

Built for eCommerce

Made by DTC Entrepreneurs, for DTC Entrepreneurs.


OAuth 2.0, 128 Bit SSL, secure data encryption, official, secure API's. We have them all, and more.

Get Started with Chargeflow

Chargeflow helps you focus on your business without the burden of disputes, chargebacks and fraud holding you back.

With a fully-featured, automated dispute management solution that offers flexible workflows and unique features such as ChargeScore®, ChargeResponse®, along with our ROI guarantee and actionable analytics, all of your dispute needs are met in one simple platform.