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How to Complain To Your Credit Card Company

Today we have a special guest post from Josh Wilson of Family Faith Finance. Josh’s idea for an article is one I would’ve written if I’d thought of it. I talk about using credit cards as a tool to better manage your finances and those juicy bonuses they offer, tax-free. But what if something goes wrong? Identity theft drips from the newsfeeds. Unauthorized charges happen.

There is a way to protect yourself. Most readers are aware of their credit card’s dispute process. But if the dispute goes wrong there are still options short of arbitration. Josh gives us the basic framework in disputing a credit card charge or issuing bank’s action before moving to a powerful tool to resolve the worst problems with lenders. I’ll let Josh tell the story.


How to Complain To Your Credit Card Company


By Josh Wilson, creator, blogger, and personal finance junkie.


While credit cards aren’t a prerequisite, they’re a great tool for emergencies, recurring payments, cash management, to build credit score and for bonuses. Usually having a credit card is no big deal, either, but then life interferes? Having a complaint against your credit card company is normal and if you do you’re definitely not alone. The most common complaints about credit card companies include: billing disputes, identity theft, and account closure.


When you have an issue with your credit card service it’s best to work directly with the issuing bank first before seeking arbitration or help from a third-party advocacy group. Contacting a credit card company to file a complaint can seem daunting, but most complaints can easily be handled with some research and a phone call. The process is similar for most credit card companies, but there are a few things to remember when filing a credit card complaint.


  • First, it’s going to take some work. You are going to have to make phone calls, write letters, send in copies of bank statements and more to deal with a fraudulent charge on your credit card or other credit issues. Just be prepared and make sure you have everything organized.
  • Second, you must document everything. It will make the process much easier. To keep good records, use email, record your phone calls and print two copies of all paperwork you send them.


Let’s review the process of filing a complaint with your credit card company:


Evaluate the charge or discrepancy. This is the first step if we’re looking at billing mistakes or potentially fraudulent charges. You want to make doubly sure that you didn’t simply forget about a charge you did make. You may have to look up the location or call various merchants when trying to figure out if you made a purchase there.


Contact the merchant or credit card company.  Once you have your information together you should contact the merchant or credit card company. If it is for a fraudulent charge you should first contact the merchant to dispute it. If they can’t or refuse to remedy the error, contact the credit card company and alert them. [TWA Note: I would report a fraudulent charge using the bank’s online portal and let the bank deal with the issue. I wouldn’t call the merchant.]


Mail paperwork.  More than likely you will be asked to send in some information to the credit card company. This is usually handled with a fax or scan, but may require a hard copy snail mailed. Most banks don’t require paper complaints, but if required, send in a copy, keeping the original documents for your records.


Play the waiting game and appeal if necessary.  Once you’ve sent the information you need to wait while the company does their own research. Sometimes your dispute is denied. If that is the case you can appeal, asking for an explanation as to why the dispute was denied. However, most credit card companies will require you to appeal within 10-14 days of receiving your verdict on your initial complaint.


What happens when the credit card company is unwilling to resolve the issue? This occasionally happens and it’s not your fault. You can do everything right and the company may decide you are liable. Luckily there’s a government agency designed to handle this, namely the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, which is designed to assure financial institutions follow the laws and treat you fairly. They have a process where you can file a complaint against a financial institution if you have a problem with your credit card, mortgage, student loan or any other issue involving a lender.


How do you file a CFPB complaint?

The CFPB has a unique process for filing a complaint. Once a complaint is filed they become a liaison between the consumer and financial institution.

  1. You file your complaint on their website. You can log in to check or update the status at any time.
  2. The CFPB reviews your complaint and all the documents you provided them.
  3. They contact the financial institution on your behalf to settle the dispute.
  4. The credit card company responds to you and the CFPB.
  5. Your complaint is updated when it’s resolved and the CFPB publically publishes the results.


Whether you file a complaint with your credit card company or with the CFPB, you shouldn’t be anxious about addressing an issue involving your credit card, student loans, mortgage, or any other loan.


Friday 6th of October 2017

Thank you for sharing this. I can really relate this. Last few years, I had different cards, and it appeared to be a rip off just to get the annual fees/dues. I would not use any of them. I have been using one card with the greatest perks around for the last 5 years. Unfortunately they are changing their program and credit card company. This is usually a bad sign for the consumer. I will wait and see what they offer next to us loyal customers. In the mean time, I am trying to garner all the points I can before the changeover takes place.


Tuesday 26th of September 2017

I use a credit card and pay in full each month to keep a layer of safety between the big bad world and my bank account.

Fraudent charges seem to be a way of life, however I have found that my credit card companies are excellent in dealing with them. I typically find the fraudulent charge while it is still pending and call the company to report it and to obtain a new card right away. I budget in YNAB, and reconcile most days so this lets me catch issues quickly. The credit card companies typically overnight me the new card when this happens. I have never had a problem with dispute resolution, even in the old days when the problem charges were weeks old.


Friday 22nd of September 2017

I've disputed two credit card charges in my life. The first time was in the 1980s or maybe early 90s. I bought an item but the transaction showed up twice on my statement. Same vendor, same date, same dollar amount. I called the credit card 1-800 number. I explained, they said wait and see if it gets reversed out on your next statement. Back then, there was no internet so you had to wait until the paper statement arrived. It was reversed; end of matter. I can't remember if I paid the disputed amount; it's over 25 year ago.

Second time was more recent but I can't quite remember the details. I do remember disputing the charge on the credit card website. It was very simple and no paperwork. I think each transaction had a hyperlink to dispute the charge on the on-line statement. Literally, one click to dispute and open a text box. I wrote the details in the textbox and clicked OK. That's all the work I did. I remembered I paid the statement balance less the disputed amount. I was worried I would be charged interest for carrying a balance but that didn't happen either. I remember being please at how easy it was. I got a message in the application inbox that my dispute was sustained.

The only thing I question is contacting the merchant first. I would contact the credit card company first. They are obligated under the terms of the user agreement to investigate any disputed charges. Let them do the legwork of working with the merchant.


Friday 22nd of September 2017

Great reference. We've had to do this a few times, but we've always had success with the issuing bank itself. This is exactly the same thing I recommend people do when dealing with student lenders, too. They're generally a little better than issuing banks, I think, but it's still very helpful to have everything documented (and takes little effort if you do it as a habit).

Keith Schroeder

Friday 22nd of September 2017

Mr. FWP, (and all the other comments so far), I am amazed at how many people need this information. My concern was it might not resonate. Josh did a good job. I'm glad it helps people.

Mrs. Picky Pincher

Friday 22nd of September 2017

Oh, this is good to know! I use USAA and I haven't gone through a process like this; everything was online and automated after my credit card was stolen. I guess it depends on the company?