Visa Chargeback Time Limits

October 26, 2021 | 6 min read

Visa Chargeback Time Limit

Visa 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, Visa chargebacks come with built-in time limits you need to know about. Each phase of the dispute process has a specific deadline for action.  Waiting too long could mean than you forfeit your chargeback rights..

In this post, we’ll answer some of the most important questions about Visa chargeback time limits. What are the basic Visa time limits for merchants and cardholders? What Visa 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 Visa Dispute?

The deadlines are pretty straightforward on the consumer side. From the original transaction or expected delivery date, Visa cardholders 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 Respond to a Visa Dispute?

The Visa chargeback process is broken into phases. Merchants must respond within 30 days of day one for each phase. In Visa’s case, day one is the day after each phase is initiated. Merchant time limits have only one exception: if either party wants to escalate a dispute to arbitration, they must do so within 10 days.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the Visa chargeback time limits 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. They have the power to move up deadlines to give themselves more time.

4 Phases of the Visa Chargeback Process

From start to finish, disputing a charge can often take 45 to 90 days. Whenever possible, however, Visa prefers to have customer disputes finalized in a month or less.  This means that merchants need to respond to each phase as quickly as possible.

There are four basic phases to a Visa dispute:

  • Dispute
  • Dispute Response/Pre-arbitration
  • Dispute Response/Reversal
  • Arbitration

Responses are mandatory in all cases. At one point, Visa allowed merchants to ignore the dispute until after the deadline, effectively accepting the chargeback by default. Now, though, Visa imposes a fine on non-response, even if that response is to accept the chargeback.

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

Exceptions to Visa Chargeback Time Limits

As we mentioned, Visa dispute time limits for merchants are straightforward. They must respond within 30 days at each phase, or 10 days for arbitration. There are some exceptions on the cardholder’s side, though. Four reason codes have modified time frames:

VisaReason Code 10.5
Visa Fraud Monitoring Program

If the dispute falls under reason code 10.5, the timeframe doesn’t begin with the transaction. Rather, the 120-day time limit starts on the day the fraud is identified by the Merchant Fraud Performance Program.

VisaReason Code 13.1
Services Not Provided or Goods Not Received

There are some cases in which delivery of goods or services can reasonably be expected after the actual transaction date. Buying concert tickets a month before the event date, for example. In these cases, the chargeback time limits are calculated based on multiple criteria. The time period used to gauge this Visa dispute time limit starts on either:

  • The transaction date, if the date the expected goods/service delivery date was unspecified
  • The date the cardholder returned or attempted to return the merchandise (if the merchandise was returned due to late delivery)

Also, the dispute must be processed either:

  • Within 120 days of the last date the cardholder expects to receive the goods or services (not to exceed 540 calendar days from transaction).
  • Within 120 days of the date the cardholder was informed that the goods/services would not be provided (not to exceed 540 calendar days from transaction).

Finally, the issuing bank must wait 15 calendar days before initiating a dispute.

VisaReason Code 13.3
Not as Described or Defective Merchandise

If the cardholder deems the goods or services defective or not as described, the Visa chargeback time limit is calculated based on one of the following, depending on the situation:

Scenario Start of Time Limit
The goods/services were purchased on or before the transaction processing date. 120 calendar days past the date the cardholder expected or was promised to receive goods or services.
There is a delay in delivery of the goods or services. 120 calendar days past the date the cardholder was told the goods/services would not be delivered/provided.
Goods or services were provided after the transaction processing date. 120 calendar days past the date the cardholder received the goods or services.

VisaReason Code 13.6
Credit Not Processed

Visa reason code 13.6 deals with chargebacks stemming from a credit not being processed. Issuers must wait 15 calendar days from the credit transaction receipt date before initiating a dispute, unless doing so would cause the dispute to exceed the time limit.These dispute must be processed no later than 120 calendar days from either:

  • The transaction processing date
  • The date on the credit transaction receipt; if the CTR is undated, then from the date the cardholder returned the merchandise or cancelled services

Working With Visa Dispute Deadlines

Visa chargeback time limits are confusing…much like many other parts of the Visa 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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