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Having trouble with a refund? Here’s how to dispute a charge with Amex under Section 75.

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If you’ve been reading the Head for Points comments section, you will know that many readers have been discussing how ‘Section 75’ can help get them refunds from airlines or hotel groups which are not rushing to return their money.

What is Section 75?

‘Section 75’ is industry shorthand for part of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 that makes your credit card provider jointly and severally liable for any breach of contract or misrepresentation by a retailer.

It allows you to make a claim against your credit card company to get your money back if a retailer does not honour their side of the purchase, whatever that may entail.  This includes failure to perfom due to bankruptcy.

Under the Consumer Credit Act 1974, the credit card company is jointly liable with the retailer for anything you buy as long as you spend over £100 and under £30,000.  You can charge as little as £1 to a credit card to get the coverage, but the total purchase must be over £100.  You can claim up to six years after the original purchase.

(There is a quirk to the rules which will apply to flight transactions.  If your total spend for your family was over £100 but each individual airline ticket cost under £100, Section 75 will not apply.  The same applies if you bought four shirts for £30 each from a clothes shop.)

This is one of the most consumer friendly pieces of legislation around.  I’m never sure if the credit card companies are pleased it exists, but it is a great advertisement for using a credit card instead of cash or a debit card for major purchases.

Section 75 claim American Express

Does Section 75 only apply to credit cards?

Yes.

Section 75 only applies to credit cards. This includes the British Airways American Express cards, the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Card, the American Express Rewards Credit Card (ARCC) and the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.

American Express charge cards are not covered – including the The Platinum Card.  However, Amex chooses to voluntarily match Section 75 protection although it is not legally obliged to.

Section 75 only applies if you paid directly.  If you used an intermediary such as PayPal or Curve then you cannot claim under Section 75 although both companies have similar, but not as legally strong, remediation schemes.

What happens if I paid with a debit card?

There is a separate mechanism called ‘chargeback’ which can be used if you made a payment with a debit card or if your credit card payment was for less than £100 per ticket.

A chargeback allows your card issuer to reverse your payment.  You receive a refund and the money is taken back from the airline, hotel etc involved.

Visa, Mastercard and American Express have signed up the chargeback process.  However, you need to understand that this is a voluntary scheme and you have no legal right to receive a refund.

Section 75 claim American Express

How do you make a Section 75 claim against American Express?

Given current events we thought it would be helpful to have an article about the process of initiating a claim on an American Express card, as many people are unfamiliar with the process.

Unfortunately nobody on the HFP team has ever needed to process a chargeback on Amex, so we asked regular commenter Dean to help us out.  Over to Dean:

“Firstly, decide whether you have a valid basis for the refund, i.e. did British Airways cancel your flight and so under EC 261/2004 make you legally entitled to a cash refund?  Has the retailer promised a refund but they’re saying you’ll have to wait six months?  If so, it might be time to raise a dispute.

Note that with American Express, the dispute raising process is the same for both credit cards and charge cards.  However, credit cards have legal force under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1974), whilst charge cards only have Amex’s own voluntary process.

To raise a dispute you need to login to the Amex website on a desktop computer and not the app.  Navigate across the top menu to ‘Statement’ and then to ‘Your Card Activity’ (click to enlarge):

How do you make a Section 75 claim against American Express?
Next, navigate to the transaction that you would like to dispute, using the ‘Date Range’ to go back to the month in which the transaction was made if needed.

Click into the transaction and then click on the text at the bottom, ‘Have a question about this charge?’.

How do you make a Section 75 claim against American Express?
You’ll then need to answer a number of questions related to the dispute.

If Amex asks for it, you will need to upload any evidence you have, e.g. any correspondence with the retailer, notes from any calls, any refund promised etc.
How do you make a Section 75 claim against American Express?
The dispute you’ve raised appears on the ‘Your Card Activity’ page. Clicking on ‘Dispute Activity’, on ‘Open’ and then the dispute itself displays details related to the dispute along with an expected resolution date.

How do you make a Section 75 claim against American Express?
I created a dispute for a Qatar Airways flight on 6 April and a ‘Credit for Disputed Charge’ amount hit my Amex statement three days later. I still have to wait potentially until 29 May for Amex to investigate with the retailer and to receive a final decision on the dispute.  American Express will reclaim the money from my account if they refuse my claim.

Amex appear to have a risk based approach to such disputes.  For smaller disputed amounts I have found that the case was closed straight away with no investigation. You will receive a letter in the post once the dispute is closed.

You could of course call American Express or use the chat function to open a case, but the self-service option I outline above is likely to be much quicker these days.”

Thanks Dean.

Please remember, before initiating a Section 75 claim, that it creates a lot of work for both American Express and the airline or hotel company involved.  Virgin Atlantic, for example, is quoting 100 days at present to refund money from cancelled tickets.  If you are in immediate need of the money then you can raise a Section 75 case and you will receive it more quickly, but if you can sit it out then you are doing everyone a favour.  Your money is not risk at the end of the day – if a company which owes you a refund does fail, you are still entitled to your money under Section 75.

Comments (171)

  • Dan says:

    Thanks Rob – a really useful breakdown.

    Question – I had some flights with Easyjet booked for 28 April from LGW to Nice. Despite knowing that the flights wouldn’t be going as the entire fleet has been grounded, I only got the flight cancellation notice via email yesterday. In it, it doesn’t say the word refund and they are trying to funnel you to either take a voucher or rebook your flights. They do list a phone number, but I know from your pinned guide on getting refunds calling this will result in long hold times etc.

    My question is – in my circumstances would you call Easyjet and get a refund through them or go straight down the S75 route with Amex?

    • Charlieface says:

      Try this number for Easyjet 0161 774 9879 I got through eventually.
      Technically you can go straight to the credit card company, there is no requirement to go to the retailer first, but it can get their backs up a bit.

      • Dan says:

        Thanks Chalieface – will try that.

      • Nick says:

        Are you in the US or elsewhere? In the US it’s true there’s no requirement to go to the retailer first, but in the UK (and Europe) there is on all of the card schemes – so you DO need to try contacting the retailer first. If you’re on hold for ages and have tried multiple times (a screenshot of your phone would prove this…) then you could justify going to your bank. Banks in the UK are supposed (and mostly do) reject cases where you haven’t spoken to the merchant first, and the merchant is allowed to use this as a defence. Apart from in the US.

        • Lady London says:

          You are supposed to make reasonable efforts to get the merchant to refund you before resorting to credit card. Personally I always will try about three times (which as a rule of thumb would be enough for something you would have to claim from a court such as via moneyclaimonline).

          So keep a record of when you phoned, who you spoke to, what was said. Making calls on Skype or recording them if you want to be really sure.or a note of when you called and did not get through, how long you waited etc. Just to prove you made a reasonable effort. Personally I think it’s a fair enough behaviour too.

          Then submit your claim – or consider how long is reasonable to give them.

  • Charlieface says:

    An adult plus child ticket would probably count together to the £100 as it’s not normally possible to buy them separately. Equally any time there is a fixed booking fee on the whole PNR.

  • John says:

    You must buy the product for yourself for this law to apply. Or the supplementary card holder. Of the tickets are for relatives etc only chargeback is possible.

    • Charlieface says:

      If the main account holder has some sort of benefit it’s still ok. Eg someone bringing in close family for an event

    • TGLoyalty says:

      No, you have to demonstrate to the card company how buying something for someone else that is now not delivered brings you (the card holder) hardship.

      For example if they were a gift or if it’s your own family etc

  • Diego says:

    BA holiday package cancelled and refunded without any problems. APH hotel and parking booked separately at Heathrow but the hotel (Accor) is refusing to speak to us regarding cancellation due to the booking being in May. I realise this was booked separately from the BA package and it was our decision to book independently, but do we have a case for a refund and, if they are refusing to speak to us, try the S75 chargeback? (BA Amex card used). Thanks!

  • Howard says:

    I did this on an EJ flight and money back in my account within 36 hours and now case closed.

    I have an issue with a cruise booking. Paid £5900 last year for a cruise which departs November 2020. Cruise company changed terms and conditions which gave us the right to cancel with full cash refund less $200. I contacted our broker but they refused to deal with us as they are so busy but I was relaxed due to change in terms and condition. Then on 8th April 2020 they changed terms and conditions which only offered us a voucher. I did a chargeback (S75) with Amex and it’s on hold pending decision 26/5/20. Not sure if the money will come back on my account pending decision. Any view on this?

    Also I paid for 12 concert tickets with a venue in Amsterdam for March but paid with capital on tap. The venue won’t respond apart from one email which offers that I give the money as a donation or I take a voucher. Capital on Tap I don’t think will be affirmative judging by my discussions in the way Amex will.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      As the cruise is booked through an agent and the cruise isn’t yet cancelled it could be touch and go on this one. If the cruise is actually cancelled then should be ok.

      The card company hasnt refunded you as suspect they are awaiting a response from the agent you paid.

      • Howard says:

        strange that half of the money went to the booking company and half to the cruise company.

    • Lady London says:

      They can’t change terms after you’ve paid.

      To make doubly sure if you see anything that looks like they are trying to change the terms unilaterally you can send them a notice or make a note of date, time and who you told on phone that you do not accept any change in their terms. That’s in case there’s any way for them to assume your agreement if you don’t object.

      • Howard says:

        It was a 6 star cruise company and they changed the terms and conditions (on their website) by adding that existing cruise bookings could cancel the cruise with 120 days notice (pre cruise). That was brilliant. I am more than 8 months out and so protected and I went cancel. However, two days later they cancelled the amended terms and conditions.

        My argument is breach of the amended contract.

  • Lewis King says:

    Trying to do this on a Qatar flight too. No response from Qatar fro over a month and Amex now 11 days since raising a dispute 🙁

    • Reeferman says:

      My experience with Qatar has also been appalling – refusal to acknowledge S75, offers of vouchers only etc. I made an S75 claim (with Santander) on 24th March and money back in my account yesterday. Very impressed.
      Appreciate it’s not Amex, but the system seems to work against Qatar, thankfully.

      • Lewis King says:

        Mine was a refundable ticket, so I lost £100 fee, but the rest is due to come back… but still waiting 🙁

  • Paul says:

    Hi, I raised a dispute with Amex for some Air France flights booked via ebookers. The money is in my account and the case is closed. Does that mean it is no longer possible for the money to be taken out again if ebookers challenge? I’m a bit confused as to when I can consider the matter completely final.

  • Phil Gollings says:

    Amex are crediting the disputed payments immediately. They do have a history of changing their minds weeks later after the retailer says different to you without providing evidence and recharging them to your account, especially if BA is involved.

    • darrenf says:

      I disputed an easyJet flight 13 days ago and have yet to hear or see anything from Amex, so I don’t believe it’s true as a blanket statement to say Amex are crediting immediately.

    • S says:

      They are not crediting immediately, they are not making you pay the disputed amount while the dispute is ongoing.

      It’s not a credit though.

    • Paul says:

      Thanks. I will leave the disputed amount in the account for a while then.

    • Howard says:

      They have not credited mine immediately…On line says its a review….Had two letters stating “we have placed the disputed amount under review and therefore you are not requited to pay anything (It was paid last April). The balance on your next statement will reflect the amount under review?. What does this mean?

    • Chris says:

      Not quite. I raised 2 cases. 1 was immediately credited while the other one is still open. Both amounts were similar and under £100. Not sure what their criteria are regarding immediately closing/crediting and not.

      • Lady London says:

        Closed = you keep the money.

        Quite a lot of cards put the disputed mine back on your account as a credit while they investigate. This relieves you of having to pay it meanwhile. If the dispute fails then that credit would be removed and you would have to pay. Closed means you keep the money.

        Some cards have a penalty they will charge you, say £30, if you raise a dispute and it’s not successful. Card co’s I have dealt with say it’s rare they would actually chArge this unless your claim was totally unreasonable.