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How to Cancel a Credit Card Purchase

You may wish to cancel an online order or credit card purchase due to a mistake, a double charge or a fraudulent transaction. Here’s how.

May 11, 2022

We’ve all been there: We hit “submit” too early on an online order, double ordered an item, or noticed a mistake on the order summary after purchasing. Or maybe we’ve noticed suspicious transactions on our card that were not authorized. 

Whatever the reason, you may be wondering how to cancel a credit card purchase — or if that’s even possible. This guide will show you how. 

Reasons to cancel a credit card purchase

You can’t simply cancel a purchase because you changed your mind, or because something was too expensive. However, there are a few legitimate reasons why you may wish to cancel. 

  • You were charged twice for a transaction.

  • You made a mistake on the order.

  • The merchant made a mistake on the order.

  • You noticed an inaccurate charge.

  • You noticed fraudulent or unauthorized transactions.

The method for how to cancel a credit card purchase depends on whether the transaction was authorized or fraudulent. 

How to cancel a credit card purchase

Canceling a credit card purchase can be handled in one of two ways:

  • Contacting the merchant (this is best in most cases).

  • Contacting the credit card issuer (this is best if there are fraudulent or unauthorized transactions).

The process for how to cancel an online order that you did authorize will involve contacting the merchant you made the purchase with. In many cases, you can simply ask to cancel your order — if the items haven’t shipped yet, the merchant may be willing to cancel the transaction.

If the transaction was not authorized, you will likely need to contact your credit card issuer. This is a more involved process and may require a credit card chargeback. Your card issuer will walk you through the necessary steps. 

How to cancel an online order or purchase that you authorized

For purchases that were legitimately made by you or an authorized user on your account, contacting the merchant directly is recommended. 

If there is an issue with the order or payment (you were double charged, for instance), the merchant should be able to modify or cancel the transaction.

If you simply want to cancel the order, you’ll need to check the merchant’s policies. Some companies may allow you to cancel an order and get a full refund, but others may consider all transactions to be final. 

If the order has already shipped, it may be impossible to cancel it. In this case, you can consider returning the items once they arrive — check with the merchant for details on their return policy. 

How to cancel a transaction that you didn’t authorize

If you notice transactions on your credit card that you don’t recognize, it’s possible that they could be fraudulent. 

This can be the result of identity theft, a stolen credit card or a compromised credit card number.

In this case, these are the steps you should follow: 

1. Confirm that the transaction is fraudulent 

Check your credit card statement for any transactions that you don’t recognize. If you find one, think hard about what that transaction might be. In many cases, the merchant name on the card transaction won’t match the merchant’s primary name. For example, a purchase at Joanne’s Coffee may show up as “Fresh Brew, LLC.” 

2. Check for other unauthorized transactions

If you do identify a fraudulent transaction, the next step is to comb through the rest of your credit card statement for any other suspicious activity. If a criminal has access to your credit card, they may attempt to make multiple purchases. Be sure to check the pending activity section as well, to see transactions that were most recently made. 

3. Contact your credit card company

Next, contact your card issuer for next steps on how to cancel a credit card purchase that is fraudulent. In most cases, the issuer will freeze your card (so no further transactions can be made), and will then mail you a replacement card that has a different number. They will then take you through the next steps of sorting out the transactions.

This can take some time, but most card issuers will provide a temporary credit to cover any fraudulent transactions. In most cases you won’t be responsible for any of the charges if they are determined to be fraudulent. Depending on whether your physical card was presented to a merchant or just the credit card number was used, you could be responsible for up to $50 of fraudulent transactions — but card issuers may be willing to waive this, leaving you with no liability.

4. Protect yourself

Fraudulent transactions might mean one of several things:

  • Your physical card has been stolen. In this case, think about what other cards were in your purse or wallet, and proactively freeze those credit accounts.

  • Your card number was stolen. In this case, think about how the number may have been compromised and take steps to prevent future issues.

  • Your identity was stolen. In this case, you should report the identity theft immediately and take steps to protect your finances and credit. 

Bottom line

Canceling a purchase that you made will require contacting the merchant. It’s typically up to the company to determine whether or not they can cancel the transaction, depending on their policies. 

For fraudulent transactions, it’s necessary to contact the credit card issuer. They will answer any questions you have about how to cancel a credit card purchase that you didn’t authorize. 

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