Mastercard Chargeback Time Limit

October 28, 2021 | 7 min read

Mastercard chargeback time limit

Mastercard Chargeback Time Limits: Understanding the Dates & Deadlines

Are you a merchant fighting an unfair chargeback claim? Or, are you a cardholder dealing with a case of criminal fraud? In either case, Mastercard chargebacks come with built-in time limits you need to know about.

Merchants and consumers face strict time limits for each phase of the dispute. Miss one of these deadlines, and they risk their case being thrown out, no questions asked. If that happens, they lose any hope of recovering the money in question.

In this post, we’ll answer some of the most important questions about Mastercard chargeback time limits. What are the basic Mastercard time limits for merchants and cardholders? What Mastercard reason codes have different guidelines? And, why being aware of these time limits is important for both merchants and consumers.

Have more general questions about chargeback time limits, or want to see the rules for other card brands?

Learn More About Chargeback Time Limits

How Long Do Cardholders Have to File a Mastercard Dispute?

The deadlines are pretty straightforward on the consumer side. From the original transaction or expected delivery date, Mastercard cardholders generally have no more than 120 days to file a dispute. There are a few exceptions, which we’ll cover later in this post. In most situations, though, 120 days is the rule.

How Long Do Merchants Have to File a Mastercard Dispute?

The deadline for US merchants to respond in a Mastercard chargeback situation is 45 days. Keep in mind, however, that the time windows presented here don’t only apply to merchants. Other parties, such as acquirers and processors, may also have actions to perform in the same timeframe.

These other parties have the power to impose their own deadlines to give themselves more time. This means that the amount of time actually available to the merchant may be significantly less than the 45-day figure outlined in the Mastercard rules.

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4 Phases of the Mastercard Chargeback Process

From start to finish, disputing a charge can often take 45 to 90 days. Mastercard chargeback time limits exist to try and ensure that claims are resolved in as timely a manner as possible.

There are four basic phases to a Mastercard dispute:

The timeframe for each phase starts the same day the phase starts. Mastercard refers to this date as the “Central Site Business Date” or CSBD. While the entire Mastercard chargeback process typically takes 45 to 90 days, it’s obviously in everyone's best interest to resolve claims as quickly as possible.

Also, remember that the point which qualifies as "Day One" will reset at each stage of the chargeback process. So, while the time limit on chargebacks is predetermined, it will still move around as one progresses to a different stage of the dispute:

Exceptions to Mastercard Chargeback Time Limits

As we stated above, most Mastercard dispute time limits are well-defined. Cardholders have 120 days, while merchants are locked in at 45 calendar days. The primary exception would be for merchants, who may have less than 45 days depending on the specific rules imposed by their acquirer or processor.

There are a few other exceptions to the rules, though. A few select Mastercard chargeback reason codes have different Masteracrd chargeback time limits. All but two fall under Mastercard chargeback reason code 4853 (Cardholder Disputes):

Code 4808 refers to authorization-related chargebacks. In these instances, cardholders have 90 days to file a dispute. Most cases stemming from point-of-interaction errors allow 90 calendar days to file.

MastercardReason Code 4853
Goods or Services Not Provided

The timeline for this type of chargeback is complex. Essentially, the start date for the time window varies based on the specifics of the dispute:

Condition Timeframe
The actual date of delivery or service performance was unspecified. Issuer must wait a minimum of 30—but no more than 120—calendar days after the transaction processing date to initiate a chargeback. This 30-day waiting period may be waived if the merchant has gone out of business.
The date of delivery or service performance was specified, but has since passed. The chargeback must be initiated no later than 120 calendar days after the transaction processing date (not the Central Site Business Date).
Ongoing services were terminated. The chargeback must be initiated no more than 120 calendar days following the date services ended (not to exceed 540 days of the original transaction processing date).
Prepaid gift cards for a merchant which has since gone out of business. The chargeback must be initiated within 120 calendar days of the gift card’s expiration date. If the card has no expiration date, the chargeback must be initiated within 540 calendar days of the transaction processing date.

MastercardReason Code 4853
Credit Not Processed

For cases in which the cardholder did not receive an expected credit, chargebacks must be processed within 120 calendar days of one of the following:
  • The date on the credit documentation
  • The date of service cancellation
  • The date merchandise was returned

MastercardReason Code 4853
Goods/Services Not as Described or Defective

For cases in which the cardholder claims the merchandise received (or service provided) differs greatly from the description available at the time of purchase, the dispute must be processed within 120 calendar days of one of the following:
  • The transaction processing date
  • The date the merchandise was delivered
  • The service cancellation date
  • The date services ended

The chargeback may not be filed more than 540 days past the original transaction processing date.

MastercardReason Code 4853
Counterfeit Goods

If the cardholder received counterfeit merchandise, disputes must be processed within 120 calendar days of the transaction processing date. In cases of delayed delivery, disputes must be processed within 120 calendar days of the date the goods or services were received.

MastercardReason Code 4854
Cardholder Dispute Not Classified Elsewhere (US)

Mastercard reason code 4854 is a catch-all for disputes that don’t fall neatly under any other category. The issuer is still limited to processing the chargeback within 120 calendar days of the transaction’s Central Site Business Date. However, merchants are also allowed 60 calendar days to respond after first learning of the dispute from the cardholder.

Working With Mastercard Dispute Deadlines

Mastercard chargeback time limits are confusing…much like many other parts of the Mastercard dispute process. Without knowing how different factors affect the timeframe, however, means merchants are much more likely to miss a deadline and automatically lose a case.

If you're a merchant, outsourcing chargeback management to the right professionals can free up time and ensure a much higher win rate. In fact, Chargebacks911® offers a guaranteed ROI for all chargeback disputes we compile on your behalf. Contact us today to learn more about recovering revenue amid restrictive chargeback time limits.

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