Strategies The Pros Use To Fight Friendly Fraud

Chargeback Time Limits: Anticipating Risk and Beating Deadlines

When it comes to chargeback management, time is money. If you don’t understand chargeback time limits, you could suffer cash flow issues and lose a lot of revenue.

There are two categories of time limits. You’ll need to understand both if you want to effectively manage risk.

Chargeback Time Limit #1:

How long can a customer wait to file a chargeback?

How much time can pass between the transaction processing date and the chargeback?

If you made a technical mistake while processing the original transaction, you will know about it relatively quickly. Chargebacks resulting from authorization and processing errors are managed with a fairly short timeline.

Chargebacks that result from consumer disputes, on the other hand, have a much longer time limit. These disputes often catch the merchant off guard because they seem to appear out of nowhere, sometimes hitting the merchant account more than four months after the transaction was processed!

  Most chargebacks have a 75, 90, or 120 day time limit.

The reason code used to describe the dispute will determine the chargeback time limit. Each code has a different timeline.

You’ll want to carefully review all chargeback reason codes so you are familiar with the very detailed regulations. Not only do you need to know how long the timeline is, but you also need to know when the clock starts ticking.

It’s important to note that these chargeback time limits are for initiating a chargeback. If you haven’t received a chargeback by day 120, it doesn’t mean that you are in the clear. Several additional days will pass while the issuer submits accompanying documents and the acquirer reviews the case.


Why is it important to know how long customers and issuers can wait to initiate a chargeback?

This helps you anticipate chargeback trends and predict when risk will escalate. Then, you can act preemptively.

For example, an increase in sales during the holidays will likely result in a proportional increase in chargebacks. By the end of January, you’ll want to have a few extra people on hand to manage the influx of representments. And, you’ll want to try to increase sales for the next few months to compensate for the lost revenue. But by April or May, the risk will probably taper off.

For maximum insight, calculate and monitor the number of days that pass between the transaction processing date and the chargeback date. This helps you determine which timelines are normal for your business.


Chargeback Time Limit #2:

How quickly do you need to respond to a chargeback?

If you receive a chargeback, how much time do you have to submit a response?

It is essential to understand that chargeback time limits for acquirers are vastly different than those for merchants.

Included in those 30 or 45-day schedules are several days the acquirer uses to complete administrative tasks. These tasks eat up significant amounts of time at both the beginning and end of the process, leaving you with a very small window in between.

 The amount of time you have for a chargeback response depends on your processor. Some processors only give their merchants 3 days!


You will only have a fraction of the regulated timeline to:

  • locate necessary compelling evidence
  • create a response
  • submit your case

How can you beat these short deadlines?

Understanding what you’re up against is an important first step. You need to be realistic about what your team can and can’t accomplish in such a short time frame.

If you manage chargebacks with manual processes, it is very challenging to respond within the allotted time limit. There are so many tasks to complete and rarely enough time to accomplish them. Cases will likely expire and you’ll forfeit revenue.

Even if you are able to respond in time, your chances of winning aren’t great. If you’re rushed, you run a greater risk of omitting necessary components or failing to comply with regulations. You’ll increase expenses without increasing revenue.

If you manage chargebacks in-house, we suggest you follow this step-by-step guide for representment. These tips will help optimize your in-house team so you have the best possible chance of adhering to chargeback time limits and recovering lost revenue.

  If you’ve ever considered switching from manual processes to automated technology, now is the time to do it!


Visa recently shortened chargeback time limits from 45 days to 30. The network plans to reduce response times even further to just 20 days in the near future. Mastercard has plans to follow suit.

As chargeback time limits get shorter and shorter, automated technology will become more and more valuable.

  • Technology can easily locate necessary compelling evidence and customizes packages to ensure the highest win rate possible.
  • Submitting responses in near real time eliminates the risk that cases will expire.
  • Efficient technology costs less than manual labor so ROI is greater.
  • Technology can seamlessly scale as your business grows and chargeback volume increases.
  • Timely responses help you avoid costly fees associated with late VCR responses.

But the reality is...chargeback time limits are a regulatory detail that you shouldn’t even have to worry about!

At Midigator®, we believe the challenge of running a business should be delivering great products or services, not managing payment risk. Concerns about chargeback time limits shouldn’t occupy another second of your time.

Your focus should be growing the business--technology can handle your chargebacks.

Sign up for a demo of Midigator today, and see how technology can remove the complexities of payment disputes.


discover Midigator

Midigator is risk mitigation technology, featuring customized automation and relevant, real-time analytics. By revealing what is happening and why it is happening, Midigator empowers merchants, acquirers, and ISOs with data-driven decisions.

Share This Article

Ready To Get Started with Midigator?

Request a demo today to learn how Midigator can help keep your business protected and profitable.