How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge: A 3-Minute Guide

Credit cards offer one of the most convenient ways to make purchases in-person or online. They offer an interest-free loan provided you pay your bill in full each month. Moreover, they protect you against hackers and thieves with zero fraud liability. When you have your own credit card, you also get the benefit of never having to carry around a wad of cash.

using a credit card

Like anything else in life, however, credit cards aren’t perfect. You may find your credit or debit card has been charged the wrong amount for a purchase you made, for example. Or, perhaps you were charged for a service you didn’t receive — or for a service that wasn’t delivered as promised.

In the case of a billing error, you will need to dispute the charges made to your credit card account. This three-minute guide will explain the exact steps to dispute an incorrect or fraudulent credit card charge so you can move on with your life.

Reasons for Disputing a Credit Card Charge

When it comes to the reasons to file a credit card dispute, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) notes that it’s fairly easy to get incorrect charges fixed. This is due to protections included in the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA).

The Fair Credit Billing Act was created to provide a framework for consumers who use a credit card, store card, and other revolving credit accounts to protect themselves. However, the FCBA settlement procedures only apply to “billing errors,” notes the FTC.

Per the FTC and the FCBA, charges that count as billing errors can include:

  • Fraudulent purchases made with your credit card
  • Mathematical errors
  • Charges made in the wrong amount or on the wrong date
  • Charges for goods and services you never accepted
  • Charges for goods and services that were not delivered as agreed
  • Credits or return credits never posted
  • Failure to send your credit card bill to your current address, provided your creditor is made aware of your new address in writing at least 20 days before your last billing period ends
  • Charges where you asked for a written explanation or proof of purchase “along with a claimed error or request for clarification”

While there are many examples of billing errors, the underlying theme is that something about the charge is incorrect. In any case, when this happens, you should take steps to file a credit card dispute so you aren’t stuck paying or overpaying for items or services you didn’t receive.

How to Dispute a Credit Card Charge

If you find yourself in a situation where any billing error has occurred, the onus is on you to file a dispute, so your bill can be corrected. The steps to dispute charges are as follows:

Step 1

Call the merchant or service provider to see if they can provide proof of the charge. While you may be certain a charge is incorrect, it’s possible you’re wrong.

Maybe you forgot to account for taxes that may be charged in addition to the purchase price of an item. Or perhaps a charge on your card is correct but charged under a business name you don’t recognize. Calling the merchant to ask is the best way to find out.

Step 2

If you find that a charge is definitely incorrect, you need to call your credit card issuer or dispute the charge in writing.

According to the FTC, you should send them a letter disputing the charge so they receive it within 60 days of the first incorrect bill being sent to you. The FTC even offers a sample letter you can use to draft your own. If you do opt to mail a letter, they suggest sending it via certified mail.

You can also call the card issuer to dispute a billing error or fraudulent charge. Most credit card issuers have a team to handle phoned-in credit card disputes, and this strategy could help expedite the dispute process.

Step 3

Wait for an investigation to start. Once you have disputed a charge, the card issuer will begin an investigation to verify the validity of the charge. During this time, you are not required to pay the bill in question, but you are required to pay at least the minimum payment and interest charges on the remainder of your bill. Furthermore, note that the disputed amount can count against your credit limit.

Consumer Rights During Credit Card Dispute Investigations

You also have some added protection while the investigation is being completed. For example, your card issuer cannot ding your credit rating or report your payment on disputed amounts as delinquent to the credit bureaus.

They also cannot close your account because part of your bill is being disputed. Further, the FTC notes that it’s against federal law for a credit card company to discriminate against someone who exercised their rights to dispute fraudulent charges.

The credit card issuer has 30 days to acknowledge your complaint in writing after receiving it. They also have two billing cycles (up to 90 days) to resolve the issue, starting from the day they received your letter. Many credit card companies will also issue a temporary credit until the dispute is resolved.

Expected Outcomes of a Credit Card Charge Dispute

Once the investigation is over, the credit card issuer must do one of two things. They must a) explain in writing any corrections made to your account, or b) explain in writing why you do, in fact, owe the disputed amount.

If the bill is incorrect, the credit card issuer must credit your account for the unauthorized charges, plus all related finance charges or fees that resulted. If the bill is correct, and you do owe the disputed amounts, you’ll need to repay what you owe plus finance charges that accumulated during the investigation.

Options if You Disagree with the Dispute Resolution

The FTC reports that you have the option to dispute the results of the investigation within 10 days after receiving an explanation by mail. If you refuse to pay the disputed amount, the credit card issuer is entitled to pursue collection procedures.

If a credit card issuer fails to follow the FCBA procedures, they will lose the right to collect disputed amounts and related finance charges up to $50, regardless of whether the bill is correct. So, if they don’t respond to you in writing within 30 days of receiving your dispute letter, for example, the $50 penalty would apply.

Mailing Addresses & Phone Numbers for Major Credit Card Issuers

American Express

American Express
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 981535
El Paso, TX 79998-1535

(800) 528-4800

Bank of America

Bank of America
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 982234
El Paso, TX 79998-2234

(877) 366-1121


Card Services
PO Box 8802
Wilmington, DE 19899-8802

(866) 928-8598

Capital One

Capital One
Attn: Disputes
P.O. Box 30279
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0279

(800) 227-4825


Card Services
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 15299
Wilmington, DE 19850

Call the number on the back of your card.


Citibank Customer Service
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 65000
Sioux Falls, SD 57117

(888) 248-4226


Discover Bank
Attn: Billing Inquiries
P.O. Box 30945
Salt Lake City, UT 84130

(800) DISCOVER or (800) 347-2683


P.O. Box 9
Buffalo, NY 14240

(800) 975-4722


PNC Bank
P.O. Box 3429
Pittsburgh, PA 15230

(800) 282-7541

U.S. Bank

U.S. Bank
Cardmember Service
PO Box 6335
Fargo, ND 58125-633

(800) USBANKS or (800) 872-2657

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo Card Services
PO Box 51193
Los Angeles, CA 90051-5493

(800) 390-0533

How to Protect Yourself Against Fraudulent Charges

In a perfect world, you would never have to dispute a credit card charge. In the real world, however, mistakes happen, and it’s up to us to catch them.

With that in mind, the best thing you can do to protect yourself against billing errors is to check your accounts regularly. Check your credit charges against your receipts so you can find and fix incorrect charges before they become a problem.

Other ways to protect yourself against fraud and billing errors include:

  • Making sure you view and look over receipts before you pay for an item or a service.
  • Keep your credit and debit card and card numbers out of public view.
  • Refuse to sign for services or products until you see an itemized receipt.
  • Never sign up for autopay services.

These tips can go a long way toward protecting your account from fraudulent and incorrect credit card charges that require time and energy to file a dispute. If you do find yourself in a situation where fraud occurs anyway, make sure to dispute the charges as soon as possible. The sooner you notice and take action to fix incorrect charges on your bill, the sooner the credit card company will fix them.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do to dispute a charge?

To dispute a charge, you need to first contact the merchant or credit card issuer and explain why you are disputing the charge. You can call your credit card issuer, write a letter, or dispute online by signing in to your online account.

Provide them with the account number, amount of the charge, the date the charge was made, and the reason for the dispute.

You may need to provide supporting documentation, such as receipts or credit card statements, to support your claim. Once the merchant or credit card issuer has received your dispute, they may investigate the matter and issue a resolution. Depending on the situation, the resolution may include a refund, a partial refund, a chargeback, or a denial of the dispute.

Can I dispute a charge if I don’t have proof?

Yes, you can still dispute a charge even if you don’t have proof, but it is more likely to be successful if you do have documentation. This could include a receipt, invoice, or other proof of purchase.

The more information that you can provide, the better your chances of having the charge successfully disputed.

Can I dispute a charge if I’ve already paid it?

Yes, you can dispute a charge even if you have already paid it. You should contact your credit card issuer or bank immediately to start a dispute process. You will need to provide evidence of the incorrect or unauthorized charge, such as a receipt or proof of purchase.

Furthermore, you may also need to fill out a dispute form, which will be provided by the credit card issuer. The issuer will then investigate the dispute and may refund the charge if it is determined to be incorrect.

How long does it take to resolve a dispute?

It typically takes 30–60 days for a dispute to be resolved. However, the process may take longer if the dispute is more complex or if additional information or evidence is needed.

The best way to ensure that a dispute is resolved as quickly as possible is by providing all relevant information and evidence in a timely manner.

What do I need to do if I’m a victim of credit card fraud?

If you are a victim of credit card fraud, you should contact your credit card issuer immediately and file a dispute with them. You should also report the fraud to the police, the FTC at, and your local consumer protection agency.

You can also reach out to one of the three bureaus (Equifax, Experian or TransUnion) to verify your identity and request a free fraud alert to be added to your credit report.

Holly Johnson
Meet the author

Holly Johnson is a credit card expert, award-winning writer, and mother of two who is obsessed with frugality, budgeting, and travel.