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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.

Section 75 claim American Express

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.

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.

visa mastercard

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.


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Comments (171)

  • janie says:

    Has anyone tried this with Expedia?
    BA cancelled my flights For May 31st, but I booked through Expedia who are only offering flight credit and have no way of contacting them to demand a refund instead. At the moment I don’t even have the credit. I am owed £3500 and really need the cash.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I would start a chargeback claim.

    • Alex Sm says:

      I have the same with Opodo and no light at the end of the tunnel… started a chargeback claim through HSBC but this was not acknowledged in any way

  • Genghis says:

    The focus is obviously on getting your money back. A side note, however, is that whilst when a refund comes through points are deducted, there is no such deduction for a successful S75 claim.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Every cloud 🙂

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      I suppose the honest thing to do would be to contact both the issuer and the merchant and invite them to agree between them how much money should be returned to each party.

  • nigel whitehouse says:

    what is an acceptable time frame for the retailer to refund a cancelled flight.

    i have a couple they are saying i will receive a refund in 12 weeks; is this reasonable, should i wait or raise a Section 75 claim with Amex ?

    • Howard says:

      My view is EU legislation is the reasonable time frame to wait. 7 days.

    • Jonathan says:

      12 weeks, sounds like they are using your (Any everyone else’s) money to help them stay afloat. With the risk of airlines going bust I think a reasonable amount of time may be less than it otherwise would normally be. Let’s face it credit card refunds are generally less then 7-10 days once processed. There problem here sounds like they won’t even process it for 10 weeks or so.

  • Go says:

    If the dispute activity says closed does that mean that the transaction can’t be reversed by Amex?

  • Lisa says:

    Does anyone know why Aer Lingus are only offering vouchers sand not refunds?

    • Doug M says:

      Because they’re funding their business with your money, they’re not alone, and they don’t care.
      If your flight has been cancelled and you can’t speak to them to ask for a refund, S75 or Chargeback is the right route. If your flight hasn’t been cancelled then they could offer you a voucher, you then have the choice or taking it or waiting for the flight to be cancelled, assuming it will be.

    • Nick says:

      Aer Lingus are absolutely offering refunds to those who want them. They’re offering an additional 10% on the voucher as an incentive, but they absolutely do pay if you ask. Obviously ONLY for flights that are actually cancelled – it’s hard luck otherwise – but that’s the same for all airlines.

  • ankomonkey says:

    I bet C F Frost has made a claim or two…

  • Dave T says:

    What about if you have cancelled the card? I log in and click card activity but the page doesnt show since cancelling
    I am also expecting the refunds that I could get to be sent to this card

    Annoying I held it for 3 years but as you need to have cancelled for 2 years now it forced my hand to cancel it in February just before this broke

    • Go says:

      Amex told me that a paper statement would be sent if your card was cancelled showing any credit balance

      • Dave T says:

        it didnt have balance at the time but i’m expecting my BA taxes to be refunded to it and a few hotels

        I had a ferry to the Gili islands booked that isnt running but they also wont refund that I need to section 75, not sure if I can do the same with my airport parking that was non refundable but obviously wont be used or whether my insurance will cover it im yet to check

        • Chris says:

          Call them or use online chat if you still have an amex online services account. They are able to see your cancelled cards and refund any credit balance back to your account. It would be handy to remember last 5 digits of affected card. They are also happy to raise S75 claim on your behalf for a cancelled card too.

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          A non refundable booking when the supplier doesn’t choose to waive the terms and conditions is not a breach of contract. A proviso would be whether the service could actually be provided on the day and time booked, if it wasn’t available then a refund would be due

      • Alex W says:

        Correct – I received a paper statement for a cancelled card yesterday showing the pending disputed charge.

    • Lady London says:

      If the purchase was made when the card covered it then it’s still covered even though you closed the card. So call them.

  • Alan says:

    Does the online Amex dispute system let you claim for more than the transaction? My parents paid two (hefty) deposits for a cruise, then the rest through BACS. Section 75 would cover the whole lot but does the Amex online system only let you put in up to the transaction amount?

    • George K says:

      I believe it does – I had to claim for three at the same time just this week, but did it over the phone.

      • Alan says:

        Cool. Thankfully their cruise company is now offering an ABTA/ATOL refund credit note that can be converted into cash in due course so looks like we don’t need to pursue S75 for now.

    • Lady London says:

      Yes s.75 covers consequential losses.

      So for instance, if your claim, as well as ticket costs, also qualified for duty of care, so any extra hotel and meals costs before you could get a replacement flight would also be due to you as part of your claim from your credit card – as the point of s.75 is the credit card is jointly responsible for fulfilling the contract.

      Chargeback, which is all that’s available to you if you paid with a charge card, would cover only the actual ticket cost in this case and would not give you back any extra ‘consequential losses’

      As @Rob says, Amex intends to give you more than you’re strictly entitled to on its charge-type cards – something close to s.75 although for its charge cards so far as I know they are not giving the consequential/extra losses that s.75 proper, would also give on Amex’s credit cards or anybody else’s credit cards.

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