Chargebacks are a headache for businesses, and having the right processor on your side can help. But how do you know which is the right processor?
Good credit card processing companies will have multiple options for notifying you of a chargeback. Since you have a limited window to respond, it’s important to find out about a dispute as early as possible so you have time to collect and submit evidence.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the role your processor plays and how to choose the best processors for chargebacks.
Looking for details on what chargebacks entail and how to prevent them? Check out our comprehensive chargeback guide.
- Processor Roles
- Best Processors for Chargebacks
- Chargeback Management Companies
- Avoid Aggregators
- High Risk Chargebacks
- Find Your Processor
In credit card processing, many different companies may be referred to as simply “processors” but for the purposes of chargebacks, their roles are distinct. There are “acquirers” that handle the transaction on the back end, and “independent sales organizations” (ISOs) that act as your day to day contact for processing. ISOs “resell” acquirers’ processing services. That means that if you work with an ISO, there’s a backend acquirer even if you don’t know which acquirer it is. If you work directly with an acquirer, you won’t work with a separate ISO.
With that in mind, both acquirers and ISOs play a role in chargebacks. If you dispute a chargeback, the acquirer is the one that actually provides documentation to the bank or card brand on your behalf. However, you might go through an ISO (the company you think of as your processor) to submit documents. That ISO in turn will pass them on to your acquirer.
Some acquirers offer portals where businesses can log in to check the status of chargebacks and get more information. An ISO will typically not be involved with that portal, so you would work with the acquirer to set it up.
Acquirers and ISOs at CardFellow
CardFellow works with acquirers and ISOs. If you sign up with TSYS through CardFellow, for example, they will be your only “processor,” as they are the acquirer. If you sign up with an ISO, you’ll work with that ISO primarily, but may occasionally work with the acquirer if you want access to the acquirer’s business portal for chargeback tracking.
Neither option is better or worse, and both acquirers and ISOs can provide you with great pricing, customer service, and chargeback assistance. Which one makes sense for your business depends on your specific needs, including methods of processing, equipment types, and more.
It’s important to note that many processors offer assistance for fighting chargebacks. Additionally, many businesses don’t regularly deal with chargebacks, and may not need to seek out a processor specifically known for helping with chargebacks. Businesses with traditionally low chargeback rates include dental practices, doctors’ offices, restaurants, and other brick-and-mortar businesses that sell tangible goods.
On the flip side, ecommerce retailers and industries with pay-ahead or subscription payments are likely to experience higher chargebacks. That includes businesses like travel agencies, software as a service, gyms, dating websites, and more.
When considering processors, chargeback prevention and anti-fraud tools may be more important than the chargeback response process. However, if you know that you receive chargebacks that you’ll want to fight or if you’re frustrated with your current processor’s chargeback resolution process, here are some options to consider.
Best Processors for Chargebacks
We’ve compiled a list of processors with whom we have direct experience and who offer certified quotes through the CardFellow system. That means that they’re bound by CardFellow’s rules, including a dedicated rep that works with CardFellow clients.
While there’s no guarantee you’ll win chargebacks, working with processors that have good notification systems and customer service assistance in place can help.
As an acquirer, TSYS has a robust chargeback portal and multiple notification options.
How you’re notified: By default, TSYS will mail you notification of a chargeback. However, you can opt for notifications by email or fax if you prefer. Due to the time constraints regarding chargebacks, it’s a good idea for businesses that plan to fight disputes to sign up for email notifications.
TSYS also includes a phone support number on your processing statements, and you can contact the Chargeback Department using that number.
Timeframe for responding: While technically the card brands’ deadlines are longer, TSYS imposes a soft deadline of 15-20 days for you to respond to a chargeback. TSYS is the acquirer and submits documents to the bank on your behalf and imposes the shorter deadline to ensure timely submission of documents.
When you process with TSYS, you’ll have access to the company’s Translink system, which includes a portal for chargebacks and retrieval reports. You can view and answer chargebacks directly in that system.
Additionally, TSYS provides information on what supporting documents to submit based on the reason code provided with the chargeback. This is particularly helpful since it guides you to the correct documentation you’ll need to pull together based on the specific reason the customer initiated the chargeback. That can save you time and ensure you’re focusing your proof efforts on the most important documentation.
TSYS has a dedicated chargeback department that is available to answer questions as well.
Dharma Merchant Services
As a family-owned ISO, Dharma Merchant Services has built a reputation on responsiveness and customer support.
How you’re notified: Email and mail. For large or complex chargebacks, Dharma will reach out via phone to directly assist you.
Timeframe to respond: 14 days unless otherwise specified.
Dharma Merchant Services’ chargeback notification is brief (simply informing you that you’ll need to call or log in to your merchant dashboard for more info) but the paper notices offer details on what documents you’ll need to provide. Each chargeback is unique, so there’s no hard-and-fast rule for what you’ll need to send.
A Dharma rep will contact you to assist with particularly large or complicated chargebacks. The MxMerchant dashboard will provide details of the chargeback but doesn’t give you its current status. The developer plans to add that feature in a future update.
Another family-owned ISO, GDPay offers in-depth knowledge of processing and a commitment to helping clients.
How you’re notified: GDPay mails chargeback notifications unless you elect to have them faxed. There is also a built-in notification in the CardPointe system that can email notifications.
Timeframe to respond: 14 days.
When you receive a chargeback letter, it will state specifically what documents that cardholder’s bank requests in order to rule on the chargeback. Be sure to provide all of the documents requested and contact GDPay if you’re not sure what the documents are or how to obtain them.
Netcom PaySystem is a small ISO that goes out of its way to ensure clients are taken care of.
How you’re notified: Mail by default. You can sign up to receive email or text notifications through the acquirer’s portal.
Timeframe to respond: 7 days.
Netcom notes that the letter you receive about the chargeback will contain information necessary to respond properly. You’ll need to provide any requested documents, which can include proof of delivery, signatures, contracts between you and the customer, and more. If you sign up for the acquirer’s portal, you’ll be able to view additional information and status of the chargeback in that portal.
Payhub’s efficiency and attentive service have been the company’s core components during its decade of helping businesses with credit card processing.
How you’re notified: Payhub can notify you of chargbacks in whatever method works best for you – email, mail, or text message. The company points out that the email and text alerts are helpful because you’ll receive the notification faster than you would by mail.
Timeframe to respond: Approximately 3 weeks.
Payhub takes chargeback management seriously, and offers Dispute Manager, an online chargeback system, to its clients. Dispute Manager lets you view disputes, respond electronically, track the dispute status, receive notifications if further information is required, and read about preventing future disputes. Dispute Manager is an optional add-on service that costs $15/month. The cost may be well worth it if your business receives chargebacks that you plan to challenge.
Whether you enroll in Dispute Manager or not, Payhub can provide suggestions on what to submit for supporting documents based on the reason for the chargeback and offers as much support as possible to help you with the dispute process. The company also works with businesses to encourage proactive record keeping so that documents are readily available if a dispute does arise.
Honorable Mention – Maverick Bankcard
Maverick Bankcard is an ISO that offers a reporting dashboard with helpful capabilities for chargeback management. It includes a proactive prevention tool that will alert you if a customer that has previously filed a chargeback attempts to place another order, as well as a thorough list of supporting documents needed when replying to a chargeback. You can upload documents right through that dashboard.
The reason that Maverick didn’t make the full list of best chargeback processors is because we don’t have direct experience with their services and can’t vouch for them the way we can with the other companies we’ve listed. We’re including them based on their reporting dashboard that makes dispute management easier.
Chargeback Management Companies
Perhaps you already have a great processing solution and would like to stick with your processor, but wish there was better assistance for fighting chargebacks. In those instances, it can make sense to use a chargeback management company.
Chargeback management companies are services that can be added on to your processing solution specifically to assist with chargebacks. As a third-party service, these companies are not affiliated with your processor. You’ll incur a separate fee to use such a company.
You’ll need to consider the amount likely to be recovered by fighting chargebacks and compare that with the cost of an additional dedicated chargeback management service. For some businesses with lower chargebacks, it may not make sense. For businesses that see more frequent disputes, hiring a company specifically dedicated to assisting with chargebacks may be a sound business decision.
If fighting chargebacks with your processor is important to you, skip the “aggregators” – these are companies that don’t provide you with your own merchant account. Companies like PayPal, Stripe, and Square fall under aggregators.
Aggregators are not known for their strong customer service, and it can be difficult to get the proper assistance submitting required documents if you intend to fight a chargeback. Some clients report that they simply receive canned emails when they attempt to work with an aggregator to fight a chargeback, leading to a frustrating situation where the business can’t submit documents even if they have them, thus losing the chargeback without a chance to protest.
Additionally, it appears that some aggregators, notably Stripe, do not allow you to appeal the initial chargeback to the card brands. We’ve reached out to Stripe to confirm, and will update this article if the company provides a response.
Some aggregators, like Square, try to ease the sting of chargebacks by offering a set amount of chargeback protection. In Square’s case, they will cover $250 worth of chargebacks. However, you may find that the protection amount doesn’t go very far. For some businesses, a single chargeback could wipe out that entire $250 allotment.
High Risk Chargebacks
For businesses that are considered “high risk,” chargebacks are a common problem. In fact, higher-than-normal chargebacks may be one of the reasons why your industry is considered “high risk” in the first place.
That said, fighting chargebacks in a high risk industry is the same as other industries. But you’ll want to pay particular attention to utilizing anti-fraud tools properly and be proactive about keeping transaction documentation.
CardFellow’s suggestion for the best processor for high risk chargebacks is a company called PaymentCloud, who offers certified quotes through our system and is bound to our terms.
PaymentCloud is a processing company that specializes in high risk industries.
How you’re notified: Mail, email, or through a portal, depending on which platform you’re set up on when you begin a relationship with PaymentCloud.
Timeframe to respond: 30 days, but the sooner the better.
If you utilize PaymentCloud’s chargeback mitigation program, it will respond instantly through your CRM, which can help avoid chargebacks altogether in many scenarios.
The company notes that, just like the process for lower-risk businesses, the bank will require certain documentation as part of the chargeback review. The company stresses that the more you can provide, the better. That can include invoices, signed contracts, proof of delivery, and more.
PaymentCloud strongly recommends that its clients use a program called Midigator to help with chargeback prevention and management. The service is optional (and incurs a separate fee) but allows you to more easily respond to chargebacks and may even help eliminate them in the first place.
Find Your Processor
Ready to see pricing and find a great processor? Try CardFellow quote comparison tool to see how different options stack up. You’ll be able to request quotes from any of the companies listed as our top picks for fighting chargebacks as well as any other company you’d like.
Best of all, it’s free, private, and there’s no obligation. Signup only takes a minute, and you’ll see real pricing instantly. Try it now!