Chargebacks

A Complete Guide to Chargeback Reason Codes for Merchants

Read Time: 8 min

graphic of hands holding a phone looking at chargeback reason codes for a transaction

Card networks—the most notable of which are American Express, Discover, Mastercard, and Visa—notify merchants of chargebacks by issuing corresponding chargeback reason codes. These codes outline the most common reason for a particular chargeback, helping simplify the process of communicating underlying issues associated with the transaction.

While chargebacks are an unfortunate byproduct of accepting payments at your business, understanding these codes helps you identify the issue that leads to the chargeback, thus allowing you to determine if it’s worthwhile to dispute it.

With more than 60% of merchants recently reporting an increase in chargebacks within their businesses, there’s never been a better time to come to grips with chargeback reason codes—it could save your business a significant amount of money![1]The Fintech Times. “Chargeback Fraud Threat Growing as 65% of Chargebacks911’s Respondents Reported an Increase in 2022“. Accessed October 17, 2022.

What Are Chargeback Reason Codes?

Chargeback reason codes identify the general reason behind a chargeback. Card networks send these codes to merchants to indicate why a chargeback has been filed. A chargeback reason code may display a chargeback related to fraud, processing errors, consumer disputes, or a variety of other reasons. While the format of chargeback reason codes varies depending on the card network, all codes are alphanumeric.

Importance of Chargeback Reason Codes

Whether it’s an online payment or an in-store transaction, cardholders have the right to file a chargeback if they want to dispute a charge. Chargebacks may result in revenue loss, a strike against your merchant account, and/or merchant account termination.

The first step to fighting illegitimate chargebacks is to look at the chargeback reason code. This information allows you to make a general assessment regarding the chargeback, helping you decide if a chargeback is worth fighting. While further information may come to the surface during a full dispute, chargeback reason codes are a vital component in determining a reason for a chargeback.

Chargeback Reason Code Categories

graphic icon of an x for processing errors resulting in a chargeback code

Processing errors

Processing error codes cover a variety of incidents, such as incorrect currency, incorrect account numbers, late presentment, incorrect transaction codes, duplicate charges, and more. Employing strong internal payment processing operations helps business owners avoid these issues.

A graphic icon of a credit card with a magnifying glass on top of it to show fraudulent activity resulting in a chargeback reason code

Fraudulent activity

This category covers all types of credit card fraud, including card-not-present transaction fraud, card-present fraud, and missing signature fraud. However, the appearance of this type of chargeback reason code does not always indicate a fraudulent transaction—a cardholder may be attempting to disguise a legitimate charge as fraud.

graphic icon of a credit card ripped in half to represent card authorization errors resulting in a chargeback code

Card authorization errors

Chargebacks related to authorization hold issues often involve problems such as a lack of authorization, declined authorization, charge exceeding the authorization amount, card-not-present authorization issues, or other authorization noncompliance problems.

graphic icon image of a hand holding a megaphone to illustrate cardholder and consumer disputes resulting in chargeback reason

Cardholder & consumer disputes

This category indicates a customer initiated a dispute. Consumer dispute codes may indicate goods not received, credit not processed, goods not as described, canceled recurring billing subscriptions, and a host of other consumer disputes.

a graphic icon of the letter i to represent miscellaneous chargeback reason code categories

Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous chargeback reason codes involve codes falling outside the other categories listed above. If there’s no specific category available to describe a chargeback reason, card networks place the code in their miscellaneous category.

The Complete Chargeback Reason Codes List

Fortunately, all major credit card networks provide clear information regarding chargeback reason codes. Let’s explore chargeback reason codes from the four leading credit card brands in the United States: Visa, Discover, Mastercard, and American Express.

Visa


Fraud Chargeback Codes
10.1: EMV Liability Shift Counterfit Fraud
10.2: EMV Liability Shift Non-Counterfeit Fraud
10.3: Other Fraud – Card Present Transactions
10.4: Other Fraud – Card-Not-Present Transactions
10.5: Visa Fraud Monitoring Program
Authorization Chargeback Codes 11.1: Card Recovery Bulletin
11.2: Declined Authorization
11.3: No Authorization
Processing Error Chargeback Codes12.1: 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
Consumer Dispute Chargeback Codes13.1: Merchandise or Services Not Received
13.2: Cancelled Recurring
13.3: Item Not as Described or Defective Merchandise/Services
13.4: Counterfeit Merchandise
13.5: Misrepresentation
13.6: Credit Not Processed
13.7: Cancelled Merchandise or Services
13.8: Original Credit Transaction Not Accepted
13.9: Non-Receipt of Cash or Load Transaction Value

Discover

Fraud Chargeback CodesUA01: Fraud for Card-Present Transaction
UA02: Fraud for Card-Not-Present Transaction
UA05: Fraud Chip Counterfeit Transaction
UA06: Chip and PIN Transaction
UA10: Request Transaction Receipt (Swiped Card Transactions)
UA11: Cardholder Claims Fraud (Swiped Transaction, No Signature)
Authorization Chargeback CodesNA: No Authorization
DA: Declined Authorization
AT: Authorization Non-Compliance
EX: Expired Card
Processing Error Chargeback CodesIN: Invalid Card Number
LP: Late Presentation
Services Chargeback Codes5: Good Faith Investigation
AA: Does Not Recognize
AP: Recurring Payments
AW: Altered Amount
CD: Credit or Debit Posted Incorrectly
DP: Duplicate Processing
IC: Illegible Sales Data
NF: Non-Receipt of Cash from ATM
PM: Paid by Other Means
RG: Non-Receipt of Goods, Services, or Cash
RM: Cardholder Disputes Quality of Goods or Services
RN2: Credit Not Processed
Other Chargeback CodesDC: Dispute Compliance
NC: Not Classified

Mastercard

Authorization Chargeback Codes 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 Chargeback Codes4834: Point of Interaction Error
4834: Transaction Amount Differs
4834: Late Presentment
4834: Point-of-Interaction Currency Conversion
4834: Cardholder Debited More than Once for the Same Goods and Services
4834: ATM Disputes
4834: Loss, Theft, or Damages
Fraud Chargeback Codes4837: No Cardholder Authorization
4849: Questionable Merchant Activity
4870: EMV Chips Liability Shift
4871: EMV Chip/PIN Liability Shift
Cardholder Dispute Chargeback Codes 4853: Cardholder Dispute of a Recurring Transaction
4853: Issuer 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 or Services Not as Described or Defective
4853: Digital Goods
4853: Counterfeit Goods
4853: Transaction Did Not Complete
4853: Credit Posted as a Purchase
4853: Timeshares
4854: Cardholder Dispute Not Classified Elsewhere
Other Chargeback Codes4850: Installment Billing Dispute (Only Participating Countries)
4999: Domestic Chargeback Dispute (Only for Europe)

American Express

Authorization Chargeback CodesA01: Charge Amount Exceeds Authorization Amount
A02: No Valid Authorization
A08: Authorization Approval Expired
Fraud Chargeback CodeF10: Missing Imprint
F14: Missing Signature
F24: No Card Member Authorization
F29: Card Not Present
F30: EMV Counterfeit
F31: EMV Lost; EMV Stolen; EMV Non-Received
Card Member Dispute Chargeback CodesC02: Credit Not Processed
C04: Goods Returned or Refused; Services Returned or Refused
C05: Goods or Services Cancelled
C08: Goods or Services Not Received
C14: Paid by Other Means
C18: “No Show” or CARDeposit Cancelled
C28: Cancelled Recurring Billing
C31: Goods or Services Not as Described
C32: Goods or Services Damaged or Defective
Processing Error Chargeback CodesP01: 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
Inquiry or Miscellaneous Chargeback CodesR03: Insufficient Reply
R13: No Reply
M01: Chargeback Authorization
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
graphic of dollar bills with arrow circled around it showcasing chargeback codes

How to Use Chargeback Reason Codes

When your acquiring bank notifies you of a chargeback, they provide the chargeback reason code, which outlines why the chargeback occurred. If you assess the transaction and agree with the chargeback’s legitimacy, you can accept the chargeback. In doing so, you agree to give the customer a refund, and your business accepts any chargeback-related fees or penalties.

However, if you inspect the chargeback reason code and determine it’s illegitimate, you can contest the chargeback. Your business should build a defense, including information about the chargeback, why it’s incorrect, and corresponding evidence proving your point. You’ll likely need further information from the cardholder’s card network before you can begin contesting the chargeback, as the chargeback reason code alone does not provide sufficient context.

5 Things Merchants Should Understand About Chargeback Codes

Understanding chargeback reason codes remains essential for all business owners looking to avoid a high chargeback rate. Let’s explore five additional concepts vital for business owners wanting to fully grasp chargeback reason codes:

1. Chargeback reason codes are not always accurate

Unfortunately, mistakes can occur when processing information, which means the reason codes may not be an accurate description of the issue. Additionally, chargeback reason codes have vague descriptions, so they don’t paint a complete picture of the reason behind the chargeback. Seeking more details can be critical if you believe the chargeback is disputable.

Likewise, if a customer commits friendly fraud, then the code can be entirely incorrect. Customers attempting to commit friendly fraud may state a false reason to receive a refund.

2. Some acquirers automatically fight some reason codes

Not all chargebacks require direct input from your business. If your acquirer has proof a chargeback is incorrect, they may fight it automatically. For example, if a customer claims you processed a transaction too late, your acquirer may have documentation indicating otherwise.

Make sure to speak to your acquiring bank about which chargeback reasons they automatically dispute. This will help you focus your resources on other chargebacks requiring evidence from your business.

3. Chargeback representment rights apply to all reason codes

Chargeback representment rights allow merchants to dispute chargebacks filed by consumers. Many businesses make the mistake of thinking they don’t have the right to dispute certain chargeback reason codes. However, you can dispute all chargeback reason codes if you have a valid response. Always ensure you look at chargebacks individually in case a chargeback isn’t accurate.

4. Customize your response to fit the chargeback reason code

Disputing chargebacks requires evidence and you cannot rely on blanket statements to do the job. Avoid using templated responses if you want to successfully dispute a chargeback. Instead, collect documentation and respond with clear reasons indicating why the charge was legitimate. Successful chargeback disputes require time and hard work, so don’t underestimate the power of custom responses.

5. A chargeback code can change

Chargebacks can change without warning by the card network. If you dispute a chargeback, the card network may change the chargeback reason code to fit the new evidence provided by the cardholder. This means you must always double-check the existing chargeback code to ensure you understand the current status of the dispute.

Credit Card Chargeback Reason Codes: Final Thoughts

Understanding chargeback reason codes remains critical for business owners accepting credit card payments in the United States. While this guide provides an excellent overview of chargeback reason codes, reducing chargebacks in the first place must be a priority within your operations if you want to avoid higher processing fees and restricted access to merchant services. By choosing a merchant account provider with chargeback prevention tools, your business can lower its chargeback rate and improve its bottom line!

graphic of a laptop with security and little people to put in place the chargeback reason codes processes

Stop unwanted fees with chargeback prevention tools!

FAQs about Chargeback Reason Codes

Do chargebacks have a time limit?

Legally, cardholders are allowed up to 60 days to file a chargeback to a transaction.[2]CNBC. “The clock is ticking: Here’s how long you have to dispute a credit card charge“. Accessed October 17, 2022. However, most credit card providers allow their cardholders up to 120 days to file chargebacks. As such, it’s wise to ensure your business has enough money to cover any potential refunds from the past 120 days.

What are the most common reasons for credit card chargebacks?

Chargebacks occur for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons include fraud, friendly fraud, processing errors, failed deliveries, incorrect product descriptions, and a host of other issues.

Friendly fraud alone continues to be a persistent problem for merchants worldwide. Recent evidence suggests friendly fraud costs businesses around $25b per year.[3]Visa. “What every merchant needs to know about friendly fraud“. Accessed October 17, 2022. Having a flexible return policy and transparent customer support helps you avoid friendly fraud by encouraging customers to resolve refunds directly with your business.

How can I win a chargeback dispute?

Winning a chargeback dispute takes time and effort, and your business must provide clear evidence the chargeback claim is illegitimate. That said, it is strongly advised to collect detailed information throughout a transaction—such as shipping information, credit card verification information, and payment details.

In your dispute letter, include all key pieces of evidence and an overall summary. Furthermore, you may opt for arbitration if you disagree with the final decision.

Article Sources

  1. The Fintech Times. “Chargeback Fraud Threat Growing as 65% of Chargebacks911’s Respondents Reported an Increase in 2022“. Accessed October 17, 2022.
  2. CNBC. “The clock is ticking: Here’s how long you have to dispute a credit card charge“. Accessed October 17, 2022.
  3. Visa. “What every merchant needs to know about friendly fraud“. Accessed October 17, 2022.


popup
lock icon

Eliminate Chargeback
Fees with Our
Fraud Tools

FREE QUOTE

VeriSign Secured

Your information will not be distributed

FREE QUOTE

VeriSign Secured

Your information will not be distributed