Yes, the chargeback process does include a time limit, or a specific time window that’s allowed for parties to respond to each phase of the chargeback process. 

These time limits apply to all parties in the mix — cardholders, banks, merchants, and card networks alike. And they are important for keeping the process steadily rolling forward so both the cardholder and merchant aren’t kept in limbo. 

While this is a positive on many levels, for the merchant it can make fighting chargebacks more difficult. It’s so hard to both run a business and keep on top of every transaction that’s been run through your merchant processor.

Chargeback timeframes aren’t not the same for each credit card network, as they can vary by two months.

The chargeback time limit is all about a specific time window that allows for all parties to respond in each phase of the chargeback process. 

To help you better understand timeframes, let’s take a look at how Mastercard deals with them:

#1 – First Presentment: The merchant processes the original transaction.

#2 – First Chargeback: The issuer or cardholder disputes the transaction.

#3 – Second Presentment: The merchant re-presents the transaction and provides evidence that supports the claim that they have wrongly been given a chargeback. 

#4 – Pre-Arbitration Chargeback: The issuer (the cardholder bank) disputes the merchant’s chargeback representment. 

#5 – The issuer: Chargeback Arbitration: The merchant, cardholder, and issuer can’t resolve the issue, which forces Mastercard to get into the mix. It makes the final decision.

Of course, not all of these steps will apply to each chargeback. In many cases it won’t go beyond the initial chargeback. In fact, many merchants don’t feel they have the time or energy to fight against a chargeback and go on with their business without flinching. 

Mastercard chargeback time limits are based on “Central Site Business Date” or “Day One” for that phase. This means that each phase is given its own day. 

So “Day Two” would be the specific date that the second phase was completed, and so on.

Here’s how it would work in a real world scenario:

    • When the first chargeback is filed, the Central Site Business Date is the original date the transaction was processed. The deadline would then be a fixed number of days from that day for a merchant to respond.
    • If there is a second presentment filed, the Central Site Business Date for the entire phase is the day the first chargeback is processed.
      • In the case things continue to arbitration, the Central Site Business Date is the day the arbitration chargeback was processed.

      It’s important for merchants to know that an issuer can only file one chargeback per transaction for a given chargeback reason code.

Mastercard also has limits that apply to the issuer/cardholder.

The issuer (bank) has a bit of flexibility in some cases to alter time limits, but customers have strict time limits that they must adhere to.

Usually, cardholders have 120 calendar days of the Central Business Date. Limits may vary based on the particular chargeback code.

Acquiring merchants and banks must then respond within 45 days to each phase. 

The following are some examples of chargeback code/time frame (in days) variances:


As mentioned prior, Visa, American Express, and other card companies have similar time limits associated with the process.

How to Succeed Regardless of How Strict Deadlines Can Be

The secret to your success is to do everything you can to educate yourself on deadlines, don’t be afraid to fight back, and stick with the process. 

Most importantly, don’t get down on yourself if you find this overwhelming. Thankfully, a growing number of credit card companies are trying to streamline the process. 

For example,  Visa has worked to make it easier for all parties involved. The company has worked to introduce the Visa Claims Resolution (VCR) initiative, which is making the system faster, easier, and less costly. 

You can also consider outsourcing the representment process, which can take a huge load off of your shoulders. 

This is where Chargeback360 comes into the mix. We work to protect your best interests and make sure you’re not losing revenue that is rightfully yours and/or becoming high-risk in the eyes of your merchant service provider. 

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