It’s rough out there shopping on the internet. Even if you hedge your bets and usually do all your shopping on a big site like Amazon, you’re bound to use smaller vendors around the gift-giving season. So what can you do to protect yourself?

The first thing I would suggest is to start making all your “iffy” purchases with credit cards and not debit cards. The reason is that debit card transactions get subtracted from your account immediately — where a credit card company has a choice on who they should send the bill to: you or the vendor. In other words, the process doesn’t start with you in the position of trying to recover something that has already been taken from you.

One place that doesn’t show any preference for debit or credit cards is the vendor, and that’s why the vendor should be the first place you try to get your refund. As infuriating as “live chats” on the company’s website may be, chatbots are often the gatekeepers of all things related to refunds. I’ve read about people getting their money back after talking to Amazon’s chatbots in under five minutes.

It’s important that you try to get the refund from the vendor before you ask for a chargeback — because the credit card company will ask both you and the vendor if you did. If you’ve done all that, to no satisfaction, then it’s time for the big guns: filing a chargeback with your credit card company.

Most credit card companies show your disputed transaction in a different ledger that doesn’t affect the amount due. My advice is to keep communications with the credit card company as bland as possible while it does its investigation — and all communications with the vendor as polite as possible. And if your credit card company didn’t exclude the chargeback from the amount due, you can pay everything on your bill except the disputed amount. Be sure to notify them if you are doing that.

The superiority of credit cards over debit cards was new knowledge to me. I come from the generation that lived before debit cards, and I had always favored them over credit cards. But now that I know bank-issued debit cards are best used to get cash, like the old days. 

If you would like to shift your subscriptions off of a debit card and onto a credit card, contact us.