You made a purchase on your credit card and then decided you no longer wanted the item and returned it — but how long does a credit card refund take? Credit card refund times vary based on a number of factors. This includes the speed at which the merchant processes the refund, how soon you requested the refund, and the length of time it takes for your credit card issuer to credit the amount to your account.
If you’re feeling antsy about how long it takes for a refund to appear on your credit card, however, there are ways that you can speed up the process.
How Do Credit Card Refunds Work?
When you make a purchase on a credit card, your credit card issuer pays the merchant and the amount will go onto your account for repayment. Since the issuer technically paid for the purchase, any requests for a refund will go back to the credit card account. In other words, you won’t receive other forms of payment like cash for refunds when you use a credit card since you didn’t directly pay for the purchase.
There are two types of refunds — one for purchases and ones due to fraud.
In the case of purchases, you’ll deal with the merchant with whom you made the purchase. Once the merchant approves the refund, the credit card company will process it. Then, the amount refunded will show up on your credit card statement. The credited amount may not appear in the current billing cycle if you made a return in between billing cycles (the end of a billing cycle also tends to be when credit card companies report to credit bureaus).
As for fraud, these are charges to your account that you didn’t authorize. Most credit card companies will offer some form of fraud protection as long as you notify them within a certain period of time, usually 60 days. Once the issuer is notified of the fraudulent transaction, it will reverse the charges. You’ll then receive a credit for the amount charged, or the charge will get taken off your account completely, assuming you’re not falsely disputing a credit card charge.
Do All Credit Card Refunds Take the Same Amount of Time?
Not all credit card refunds will take the same amount of time. To get an idea of how a particular merchant accepts and processes returns, you can look at the merchant’s refund policy. Some items to note in this statement include:
• Types of refunds offered: Some merchants may be lenient on their return policies, while others may only offer store credit for returns, for instance.
• Refund times: Merchants typically state when they’ll issue a refund, such as within a few business days or weeks.
• How to make a return: Check to see whether you can make a return in person or if you can ship back the item. If you’re shipping, make sure to see if you or the merchant pays for shipping.
After the refund is processed, you’ll need to wait on your credit card company to post the refund or credit to your account. How long this takes will also vary depending on the issuer.
How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take?
A credit card refund usually takes up to seven business days after the customer makes the request.
Keep in mind that the rules for refunds can vary depending on your credit card issuer and how long it takes the merchant to process the refund. The faster the merchant processes the refund, the faster it will hit your account.
However, the above timeframe assumes that the merchant agrees to process the refund. If you were to dispute a credit charge, the process of getting a refund could take much longer. Notifying your credit card company as soon as you can is helpful because it could take some time for them to complete their investigation — they have up to 90 days to do so.
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Factors That Determine How Long a Credit Card Refund Takes
The two main factors that determine how long a credit card refund takes is the type of refund you’re requesting and where you made the purchase.
The Type of Refund It Is
As mentioned before, credit card disputes — whether for fraud or a credit card chargeback request for a product you never received — may take longer compared to refunds for purchases. Plus, you’ll need to make sure you contact the credit card company within 60 days of the billing or fraud dispute. From there, the issuer should have the dispute resolved within two billing cycles, or up to 90 days.
Where You Made Your Purchase
Different merchants have varying refund policies — the longer it takes the merchant, the longer it will take for the refund request to reach your credit card issuer. Here’s a sampling of some of the refund policies at popular retailers:
• Amazon: It can take up to 30 days to process a refund. After an item arrives at the fulfillment center, credit card refunds are typically processed within three to five days. Once a return is processed, the funds will appear in your account, usually within three to five business days.
• Square: Any merchant that uses Square to accept purchases will take two to seven business days to process a refund. It can then take an additional two to seven business days for the refunded amount to appear in your account, resulting in a total credit card refund time of nine to 14 business days.
• Walmart: Refunds tend to take up to 10 business days to process.
How to Speed up the Refund Process
The good news is that there are some ways you can help to speed up the refund process.
Get It There Faster
Some retailers have multiple ways to return items, and certain methods have faster processing times than others. For instance, many major retailers process refunds faster (in some cases, immediately) if you make a return in-person at one of their store locations instead of mailing back the item.
Make Use of Loyalty Benefits and Store Credit
You may be able to receive expedited shipping for returns or faster refund processing times if you belong to a merchant’s loyalty program. Often, you also may be able to get a refund faster if you opt to receive a store credit instead of getting a refund issued to your credit card.
How Does a Refund Affect Your Credit Card Account?
Refunds are typically treated as an account credit. There’s no credit card refund issued in the form of cash since you borrowed the money from the credit card issuer to make the purchase in the first place.
While the purchase is still billed to your account, you’re technically responsible for payment. If you made the purchase, paid it off once the billing cycle ended, and then requested a refund, you’d get a credit to your account. Due to credit card rules, the refund does not count as a partial payment.
No matter how long you wait for a refund, it’s important to manage your account wisely and make sure you’re using a credit card responsibly so you don’t end up overextending yourself. As long as you pay your bill by the due date, you won’t risk hurting your credit score while you’re waiting for your refund.
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Refunds on Rewards and Fees
Credit card companies usually won’t refund any interest or fees you may have paid because you carried a balance for a purchase that you’re now trying to get a refund for. Similarly, if you made a purchase while you were overseas and were charged a foreign transaction fee, you most likely won’t get a refund for that either.
When it comes to rewards, whatever you earned for the purchase will get deducted from your earnings after the refund is processed and posted to your account. You end up with a negative rewards balance if you redeemed all of your points before requesting a refund.
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Being aware of how credit refunds work helps you to understand how to keep better track of your credit card statements and rewards earnings. It can also help you to determine which credit cards are better used for certain situations.
Earning rewards is a great way to maximize your credit card purchases.
The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1
What happens to my rewards if I request a refund?
Your rewards will be deducted from your current balance after your request for a refund is processed.
How long does it take for a refund to appear on a credit card?
A refund may take up to seven days to appear on your credit card statement. However, this timeframe can vary depending on your card issuer, the merchant, and what type of refund request it is.
Are credit card refunds instant?
Credit card refunds typically aren’t instant. This is because it takes time for the merchant and credit card company to process it.
Will a delayed refund hurt your credit?
A delayed refund typically won’t hurt your credit as long as you continue to make on-time payments and are generally responsible with your credit card usage.
Photo credit: iStock/MBezvodinskikh
1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
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