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The chargeback process

There are up to four stages in the chargeback process, which include the following:

  • Retrieval request
  • First chargeback
  • Second chargeback, also known as pre-arbitration
  • Arbitration

Retrieval request

A retrieval request is when a cardholder’s bank asks a merchant to send information about a transaction. A retrieval request doesn’t cost you anything, however, not responding to the request leads to a chargeback.

If the issuing bank doesn’t need more information about the transaction, they can skip this stage and issue a first chargeback.

A flowchart that shows the stages of a retrieval request.

First chargeback

If a cardholder and issuing bank don’t need any more information about a transaction, they can dispute the transaction by issuing the first chargeback. The issuing bank can also issue a first chargeback if the merchant doesn’t provide sufficient evidence in response to the retrieval request.

If the merchant disputes the chargeback, the dispute moves to the next stage. If the merchant doesn’t dispute the chargeback, the cardholder receives the disputed amount.

A flowchart that shows the stages of a first chargeback.

Second chargeback

A second chargeback is also known as pre-arbitration. During the second chargeback stage, the issuing bank may issue a second chargeback. If the merchant disputes the chargeback the dispute moves to the arbitration stage.

A flowchart that shows the stages of a second chargeback.


Arbitration is the last stage in the chargeback process, but most disputes do not end in arbitration. The card brand makes the final decision about whether the cardholder or the merchant receives the disputed transaction amount.

A flowchart that shows the stages of arbitration.

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