How Long Does Credit Card Refunds Take: Know These 3 Tips to Speed up the Credit Card Refund Process
Let’s say you bought a pair of jeans online using your credit card, and you thought they would look awesome on you. When it finally arrived, you found out it just doesn’t fit right and decided to return it. Now, what? Chill, we’re here to tell you about how long does credit card refunds take, do it the proper way, and some tips on how to speed up the process.
How Does a Credit Card Refund Affect Your Account?
First off, you have to understand how credit card payments work and how credit card refunds are processed.
When you make an online purchase using your credit card, the merchant or seller requests payment from your card company. Your card issuer makes a payment on your behalf and adds that amount to your card balance, reducing your available credit limit. In effect, they're loaning you the money to buy the item. This is why most merchants will only issue a refund to the card you used for the original purchase. The money part of your transaction happened with the card company and not yourself.
Any money refunded to your account is treated as an account credit. It does not count as a payment or partial payment. And you won't receive it as a separate payout: The card company won't send you a check for the refund. It's simply a credit on your account.
For the jeans example above, there are several factors to consider before you actually get your credit card refund, such as:
- The store/merchant’s refund policies
- Your credit card company’s policies
How Long Does a Credit Card Refund Take to Process?
There is no definite answer because there are factors to consider, as mentioned above. Credit card refunds may take days, weeks, or even months to process.
When you make a purchase with a credit card, you make a promise to your card issuer that you will pay the money back. Think of it as a loan for the amount you paid. Usually, you pay off your credit card balance at the end of the month. Does that mean the merchant you bought from gets paid when you pay off your balance? The answer is no.
StellaService, a company that helps businesses improve customer service, conducted a study between July 2013 and June 2014. The goal was to find out the average time for a credit card refund to be processed, starting from when the return was shipped to when a refund was posted on a credit card statement.
Out of 5,000 online purchases from 138 retailers, StellaService found the average time for a credit card refund was 15.8 days. Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Amazon.com had the shortest time for a refund at 6.3 days.
According to Monica Eaton-Cardone, co-founder and CEO of ChargeBacks911.com, “The timetable for a credit card refund depends on the policies and procedures of both the seller and your issuing [credit card company].”
Do All Credit Card Refunds Take the Same Amount of Time?
Again, the answer is no. Merchants and sellers have different policies and procedures on how to refund a purchase, and they vary in time.
It is quite common to buy something online only to realize it doesn’t meet your expectations. The jeans don’t simply fit. The pair of shoes you ordered doesn’t speak your style. This list goes on.
How long it takes for a credit card refund to process and post will vary based on a number of factors including how quickly you initiate the return, how fast the merchant processes it, and how long it takes your credit card company to post the credit to your account.
Credit Card Refund Time By Merchant/Store
As mentioned, the time varies depending on the refund policies by the credit card company. In addition, merchants or stores also have different refund times. Here are some of the most popular merchants in America and their respective refund times.
The online retail giant’s refund policy says that it can take up to 25 days for a returned item to reach its fulfillment center. Once the item is received, it takes 2 days for the credit card refund to be processed, and 3-5 days for the credit card refund amount to show up in your account.
An online payment service that lets you send or receive payments — says refunds to a credit card can take up to 30 days, depending on the credit card company involved.
The famous home-improvement retailer says if you return an item to one of its stores, your account will be credited at the time of the return. But if you send back an item by mail, your account will be credited once the item is processed at the retailer’s warehouse. After returning an item to a store or by mail, it may take two to 10 business days for the refund to appear in your account, Home Depot says.
This popular clothing chain’s refund policy asks you to allow 2-3 weeks from your returned shipping date for your account to be credited, and 1-2 billing cycles for the credit card refund to appear on your statement.
This famous department store’s refund policy states that credit card refunds will be processed immediately if returned in-store. However, depending on your bank, it may take a few days for your refund amount to reflect in your account.
If you purchase and return anything from Adidas, they will reimburse you from the day they receive a confirmation that your item was handed over to a carrier. From there, it will take 3-5 days to ship to their warehouse. However, the time it takes to receive your credit card refund depends on your bank, which can take up to 30 days.
Credit card refunds from the world’s largest department store chain will take up to 5 business days.
If you purchase an item from a store that uses Square and makes a return, it will take 2-7 days to process a refund and another 2-7 business days for the refund to be posted to your credit card account.
This retailer says a credit card refund takes an average of seven days. Kohl’s notes the processing time can vary based on the issuer of your credit card.
3 Things You Can Do to Speed Up the Credit Card Refund Process
Let’s face it, credit card refunds may take forever to be finalized. Thankfully, you can do something to speed up the credit card refund process. Here are some things you can do:
1. Contact the Merchant ASAP
It may be hard to contact customer service, but they’re your friends. Firstly, gather all the important details like your merchant’s contact number, e-mail address, receipt number, the item/s you ordered and some other details they might ask. The fastest one is to call them so that you’ll have better idea on what to do next.
2. Claim Store Credits/Special Coupons
In some cases, the store may offer store credits with the same amount purchased as a refund. They will also offer you special coupons you need to apply upon checkout, and it is better to take advantage of this, especially if you want a faster refund.
Some merchants offer expedited return shipping or faster return processing to customers who belong to their loyalty programs. And if you're open to receiving store credit instead of a refund to your credit card, you may get it faster, since your card issuer won't need to get involved
3. Ask Your Credit Card Issuer
Again, you have to contact your credit card issuer through their customer service hotlines. You can usually find the contact number on the back of your credit card or the company’s website. To clarify things up, ask the proper steps to take on how credit card refunds work. As a customer, you have the right to ask and be serviced based on your needs.
Credit Card Refunds: Final Notes
It takes patience to wait for a credit card refund to process. After all, it’s your money that’s at stake, so it is only normal to be concerned. It all depends on where you bought the item and your credit card issuer’s policies. It is best to abide by their policies and wait until everything is finalized.
Need help with credit cards? Here’s something you for you:
- Information on Credit Card Interest and Charges
- Consolidate Credit Card Debt: 6 Options for Credit Card Consolidation
Consumerfinance.gov; How can I get a refund on a product or service I purchased with my credit card? | Finder.com; What happens when you get a credit card refund? | Consumer.ftc.gov; Disputing credit card charges | Appriss; National Retail Federation; Consumer Information Returns in the Retail Industry