Why Do Debit Card Refunds Take Several Days to Appear?

by Laura Woods ; Updated April 20, 2018
Waiting for debit card refunds can be frustrating.

When you return an item, or find a debit-card charge on your account you didn’t authorize, you want the money returned to your bank account immediately. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way with debit cards. The Electronic Fund Transfer Act allows banks up to 10 business days to decide whether or not to issue a refund to your bank account. This means funds you’re relying on to pay your bills, may be delayed.

Refund Process

When you make a debit card purchase, the money is transferred out of your bank account to the merchant. The bank cannot issue an immediate refund to your debit card because the process is instant, and your money is no longer there. If you need a refund, you must contact the merchant to process the request for a refund. The merchant then will issue a refund to the card used in the transaction, if your request is not denied. This must be done this first, before the bank can credit any funds to your account, and can take a few business days to process. If you feel you are owed a refund, but the merchant refuses to give you one, you may need to file a dispute with your bank.

Dispute vs. Fraud

Unanticipated charges on your debit card can be very frustrating, but there’s a big difference between filing a dispute regarding charges made with your debit card and claiming fraud. If you know the person to whom you made the transaction on your debit card, if you signed up for a free trial with a company or if you voluntarily loaned your card to someone, it’s typically not considered fraud. A charge is usually only categorized as fraudulent if you’ve never done business with the merchant or you don’t know the person who used your debit card.

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Speeding the Process Up

To move the refund process for fraud or disputes along faster, it’s important to be properly prepared. If you’re filing a fraud claim, double-check the forms to make sure you’ve filled everything out correctly. When paperwork has to be sent back because it’s incorrect, it takes longer to process. For payment disputes, provide the bank with all the relevant information you have to back up your claim, including a cancellation number, e-mail or anything else you have in writing.

Purchases Not for Debit

Using a debit card for purchases from certain merchants provides a greater risk than others. Sometimes it’s safer to use other forms of payment such as PayPal, cash or a credit card to safeguard your bank account from fraud. At establishments such as gas stations, restaurants and online stores, it’s best not to use your debit card.

References

About the Author

Laura Woods is a Los Angeles-based writer with more than six years of marketing experience. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh and an MBA from Robert Morris University.

Photo Credits

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prepaid hello kitty debit cardtaxes on bonuses in texaschapter 24 full disclosure in financial reportingwill insurance cover breast reduction surgeryannuity rollover to iragrants for first time home buyers in vaapic accounting1040 k 1 instructionslowest priced stocks on nysecalculate idiosyncratic riskwhat percentage american indian for scholarshipsillinois food stamp program22.99 aprbarrer bondsw4-p formang retirementwhen does irs garnish wagesrawhide car donationhow to get a salvage title in ohiobad credit removallifo filosalvage title texasaccrued income meaningjcpenney stolen credit carddifferences between debit and creditfinancial statement projectionssigning up for medicare at 65how to make a homemade coin sortermortgage insurance premium tax deductibledefinition of electronic bankingcalculating cost basis of homeadvantages and disadvantages of municipal bondshow are ordinary dividends taxed2013 single standard deductiongerman stocks on nyseexperian phone number live agenttaxability of esoptenant screenersvariable contribution margindifference in 401k and iraproperty seized for unpaid taxeswhat is reference number on medicare cardshort sale lienstrailing earningform 1041 k-1 instructionsvertical common size income statementupside down on auto loantexas subsidized housingchange tenants in common to joint tenantsirs 1041 instructionshomepath waedit my fafsadonate books to library tax deductionkeogh retirement plancan you get overdraft fees removedcalifornia blood donation requirementsfidelity cash management accountohio daily lottery numbersindex fund definehow to earn money fast for 13 year oldsreceivables turnover ratio calculationmorgan silver dollar price guidetax deductions for law enforcement officershow to report income without w2what is hazard insurance on a mortgagedelete bad credit instantlytaxation of revocable trustssecularism antonymtranspass septakohlchargefree medical alert bracelets for kidshow to fill out 1099amex gift chequesharris health gold card applicationadvantages and disadvantages of financial statementwhat is lienholder meanpnc credit card balance
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