The 5 Chargeback Reason Code Categories

Emily VuittonChargeback Basics7 Comments

5 Categories of Reason Codes

There are 151 reason codes to categorize chargebacks across Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. These reason codes can be grouped into five main categories: Fraud / No Authorization, Cancel Recurring Billing, Products / Services, Liability Shift, and Other.

Specific breakdowns vary by card network. And it all can be found in the Reason Code Encyclopedia. But overall, Fraud / No Authorization chargebacks account for 52 percent of all disputes. Cancel Recurring Billing Disputes represent the next largest group of chargebacks at 19 percent. Product / Service chargebacks are a close third, at 18 percent of all chargebacks seen. Liability Shift and Other chargebacks represent just 3 percent of chargebacks, respectively. Here’s a graph that gives a good visualization.

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All Chargeback Reason Code breakdown

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Fraud / No Authorization

As you can see, Fraud and No Authorization reason codes will represent the majority of chargebacks. Fraud chargebacks are used to represent disputes, where a cardholder’s payment information was stolen and used without their knowledge. No Authorization chargebacks show when customers don’t believe their payment information was compromised. But they still don’t recall authorizing the transaction.

Potential Fraud Chargeback Dispute Situations

Fraud chargebacks can represent a few different situations. And each card network has unique reason codes that explain the reason for a customer dispute:

Dispute Situation Reason Codes
The cardholder believes they are a victim of identity fraud in a card-not-present transaction. American Express reason code 193
American Express reason code C42
Visa reason code 10.4
The cardholder was a victim of magnetic stripe fraud in a card-present transaction.

Mastercard reason code 4862
Discover reason code UA10
Discover reason code UA11
Visa reason code 10.3

The cardholder was a victim of fraud in a keyed transaction. Discover reason code UA22
Discover reason code UA20
The cardholder claims they were fraudulently charged multiple times for the same transaction. Mastercard reason code 4840
The cardholder does not recognize the transaction and believes it could be fraudulent.

Mastercard reason code 4863
Mastercard reason code 6341
American Express reason code F29
Discover reason code 6040
Visa reason code 10.1 
Visa reason code 10.2
Visa reason code 10.3 
Visa reason code 10.4

The cardholder does not recognize the transaction.

Discover reason code 6021
Discover reason code 7010
Discover reason code 4752
Discover reason code AA
Visa reason code 10.1 
Visa reason code 10.2
Visa reason code 10.3 
Visa reason code 10.4

The merchant either violates card network rules or processes an excessive amount of fraudulent transactions. Mastercard reason code 4849

Potential No Authorization Chargeback Dispute Situations

Here’s the subtle difference between Fraud and No Authorization chargebacks. No Authorization suggests the cardholders were in possession of the card at the date and time of purchase. But they do not recognize a transaction on their statement. Or they just don’t remember authorizing a transaction.

No Authorization chargebacks can represent dispute situations, including:

Dispute Situation Reason Codes
The cardholder did not authorize the transaction. But he or she was in possession of the card at the date and time of purchase. Mastercard reason code 4837
Mastercard reason code 6321
Mastercard reason code 4837
The cardholder did not authorize a card-not-present transaction. Mastercard reason code 4540
Discover reason code UA38
Discover reason code 7030
The merchant did not receive authorization for the purchase at the time of the transaction. Mastercard reason code 4847
Discover reason code UA01
Visa reason code 11.3
The cardholder’s bank can’t verify if authorization was obtained. Mastercard reason code 4807
Mastercard reason code 4808
Discover reason code IS
Discover reason code NA
The cardholder’s bank declined authorization at the time of the transaction. Discover reason code UA20
Discover reason code DA
Visa reason code 11.2
The account number does not exist or does not match any accounts on file. American Express reason code P22
Mastercard reason code 4812
Discover reason code IN
Visa reason code 12.7
The cardholder’s bank receives a transaction that the cardholder has already not authorized. Mastercard reason code 4752

Cancel Recurring Billing

Businesses with subscription billing become very familiar with Cancel Recurring Billing chargebacks. There are many things merchants can do to avoid recurring billing chargebacks. But even with every best practice followed, Cancel Recurring Billing chargebacks will likely still appear.

Potential Cancel Recurring Billing Chargeback Dispute Situations

There are a handful of situations that Cancel Recurring Billing chargebacks can represent. This includes:

Dispute Situation Reason Codes
The cardholder cancelled the recurring transaction by notifying the merchant. But he or she was still billed in the following transaction. Visa reason code 13.2
Mastercard reason code 4841
American Express reason code 4544
American Express reason code C05
Discover reason code 4541
The cardholder notified the merchant of recurring billing cancellation. But he or she had multiple subsequent cycle transactions have taken place. Mastercard reason code 4860
American Express reason code C10
American Express reason code C28
Discover reason code AP
The cardholder’s credit card on record was expired. Or it was not yet valid when the recurring billing transaction occurred. Visa reason code 13.2
Mastercard reason code 4835
American Express reason code F22
Discover reason code EX
The cardholder was unaware that they were agreeing to a recurring transaction. Visa reason code 13.2
American Express reason code 176

Products / Services

Products / Services chargebacks represent customer disputes that involve issues with the merchant’s merchandise or service. In addition, the cardholder must contact, or attempt to contact, the merchant to resolve the issue. But they can contact their issuing bank if the merchant refused to adjust the price. Or other matters like not having the merchandise replaced. And no issue of credit is a good reason.

Potential Products / Services Chargeback Dispute Situations

Cardholder disputes regarding product or service issues can represent varying circumstances:

Dispute Situation Reason Codes
The cardholder claims the goods or services were either not as described or defective. American Express reason code C31
American Express reason code 030
American Express reason code 063
Visa reason code 13.3
Mastercard reason code 4853
Mastercard reason code 4854
Discover reason code 4553
Discover reason code RM
The cardholder claims the shipped products arrived damaged or defective. American Express reason code C32
American Express reason code 024
American Express reason code 16
Mastercard reason code 4856
The cardholder claims the services paid for in the transaction were not provided. American Express reason code 712
American Express reason code C09
Mastercard reason code 4859
The cardholder claims the goods or services were not received. American Express reason code 155
Visa reason code 13.1
Mastercard reason code 4855
Discover reason code 4755
Discover reason code RG
Discover reason code C08
The cardholder returned the merchandise. But he or she was not refunded at all or only partially refunded. Discover reason code RN
Discover reason code RN
Discover reason code 4555
Discover reason code 8002
Visa reason code 13.6
Mastercard reason code 4860
American Express reason code 158
American Express reason code C02
American Express reason code C06
American Express reason code C04
The cardholder claims that the account has been inaccurately posted with a debit instead of a credit. Discover reason code CD
American Express reason code P03
American Express reason code P04
The cardholder is disputing a “no-show” hotel charge from a merchant. American Express reason code C18

Liability Shift

The chip liability shift took effect on October 1, 2015, in the US. It meant big changes for card-present merchants. Instead of the issuer absorbing the losses associated with a counterfeit transaction, merchants that aren’t chip-enabled are liable for the transaction amount.

It didn’t take long to realize that wide-spread EMV adoption would take much longer and cause more losses than expected. That resulted in a large influx of EMV-related chargebacks for merchants who await terminal certification. As a result, the card networks made adjustments to soften the initial chargeback shock for card-present merchants.

Until April 2018, American Express and Visa blocked all U.S. counterfeit fraud chargebacks under $25. And issuers were limited to charging back 10 fraudulent counterfeit transaction per account. Mastercard also had policies in place that limit merchant exposure to Liability Shift chargebacks.

Dispute Situation Reason Codes
The cardholder claims they were in possession of the chip credit card on the date of the transaction. Or they did not participate or authorize in a card-present transaction used at a magnetic stripe terminal.

Discover reason code UA05
Discover reason code 4866
Visa reason code 10.1
Visa reason code 10.2
American Express reason code F30
Mastercard reason code 4870
Mastercard reason code 4871

Other

The catch-all chargeback category is fittingly described as ‘Other’. These chargebacks represent a small portion of overall chargebacks seen. Don’t get us wrong. There are some chargebacks that represent dispute situations that are unique to the other categories. But there are also reason codes that the card networks use as a catch-all to represent disputes. E.g., some disputes aren’t covered by any other reason code.

Potential Other Chargeback Dispute Situations

Other chargebacks merchants can potentially see include:

Dispute Situation Reason Codes
A cardholder is disputing the converted amount of the charge on an international transaction. American Express reason code P23
Mastercard reason code 4846
The cardholder has provided the issuer with proof of payment by another method. American Express reason code C14
Visa reason code 12.6
The cardholder’s bank has not specified the reason for the dispute. American Express reason code M36
Mastercard reason code 21
The cardholder’s dispute cannot be classified by an existing reason code. Discover reason code NC
Discover reason code UA99

Take an In-Depth Look at Chargeback Reason Codes

You can deepen your knowledge beyond the five reason code categories. And there is a way to dig into each card network’s set of chargeback reason codes. You can learn what they mean, what evidence is needed and how you should respond. You can learn it all right here with the Chargeback Reason Code Encyclopedia.

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