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What is the Difference Between a Refund and a Force Credit?

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Refunds vs Force Credits

In both instances, you are returning money back onto a customer/client’s credit card. The difference between the two is the way a merchant sends that money back, and which account it may go back to.



The refund method has an off-setting sale. This means that a cardholder purchased something on the card and would like the refund to go back on that same card. You can refund a partial amount or the entire amount. The cardholder will see the money back in their account within 3-7 business days. Some banks have a time limit on refunds for a particular transaction, in which case, the merchant may need to issue a force credit.


Force Credit

A force credit, sometimes referred to as a force refund, allows you to process refunds without an off-setting sale. For instance, a customer could come in with a return, but they shut down the card account they used to pay for the item. In this instance, you could provide them with a force credit, which is putting the money onto a different card account they may have. With this method, the cardholder will see the refund hit their account in 5-7 business days.

For your protection, it is common for processors to turn off this feature in order to help with fraud protection. In the event that your gateway allows forced credits on your account, there are often extra security precautions, such as two-factor identification enabled.

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