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What is a Partial Chargeback?

Today and always, cardholders are given the ability to file for a chargeback if they aren’t happy with their purchase or service. Typically, customers are expected to reach out to the merchant first and foremost to try and take care of the issue. However, as of late, more and more people are choosing to go straight to the bank instead. This is where chargebacks happen.

More often than not, customers will file a chargeback for the transaction’s total amount — even if only one small part of the transaction was unsatisfactory. It’s estimated that chargebacks result in $100 billion in annual losses or a total of one percent of many merchants’ annual revenue. But what many might not know is that customers can dispute just a single item from a larger transaction. For example, a customer might buy five items, feel satisfied with four of those items and take issue with only one of the five. This is where a partial chargeback comes in handy.

But what is a partial chargeback in simple terms, how do they impact merchants as well as customers and how common are they? Let’s break things down and find out some answers.

Partial Chargeback Explained

A partial chargeback is a chargeback for any amount less than the total amount of the transaction. While the name “partial chargeback” would suggest that merchants would be charged fewer fees than a full chargeback, the truth is that partial chargebacks are only partial to the customer — merchants still see the same amount of chargeback fees from the bank or financial institution as a full chargeback. Beyond this, partial chargebacks still count as a full chargeback when factored into the merchant’s chargeback ratio.

For this reason, when faced with a partial chargeback from a customer or bank, merchants are encouraged to treat them the same as a full chargeback. The merchant should still take the same steps to figure out if the chargeback is valid, what the reasoning behind the partial chargeback is and if fraud is a factor.

How Common Are Partial Chargebacks?

Partial chargebacks typically happen when a customer reaches out to their bank and disputes just a fraction of the charges but still wishes to keep the majority of the transaction. They aren’t saying the whole transaction is wrong or unsatisfactory, they’re simply claiming that they didn’t consent to a portion of the charge or that they were unsatisfied with a small part of a larger experience (For example, six items were charged when only five were bought or a hair wash was added onto a haircut but no hair washing was ever done).

Given their complexity on the merchant and the bank’s ends, partial chargebacks aren’t all that common at all. Several factors drive their unpopularity, but all come from the same root cause of customer dissatisfaction with part of their purchase. The customer shows a willingness to pay for part of what they bought, they simply do not want to be responsible for the part of the purchase or service that wasn’t up to their standards. With that being said, full chargebacks are still incredibly common and are even on the rise — there was a 25 percent increase in chargebacks over the last year alone.

The Bottom Line: What Is a Partial Chargeback?

If the customer felt satisfied overall with their experience but only wish to dispute one part of their purchase, they may just go straight to the merchant and avoid the bank altogether. Alas, if they are unsatisfied on the whole, it’s more than likely they’ll go to the financial institution first. At the end of the day, 38 percent of companies say that chargebacks come from merchant error, so it’s important to always ensure your customer is satisfied. This will help you in more ways than just recusing chargebacks, partial or otherwise.

On the surface, a partial chargeback might seem like the better option compared to a full chargeback, but when all is said and done, a chargeback is a chargeback regardless of whether it’s full or partial. If the chargeback is legitimate, the merchant still has to approve it and determine what needs to be done from there. For this reason, a merchant is far better off simply offering the customer a full or partial refund instead of going through the chargeback process.


LOLA POS. (LOLA POS) is a merchant advocacy group dedicated to reducing or eliminating the unnecessary fees associated with accepting credit card payments. Since 2004, LOLA POS’s payment processing solutions have been delivering tailored solutions, best-in-class customer service and high-quality service offerings for businesses across multiple industries. Whether it’s high-risk or low-risk, brick-and-mortar or e-commerce, LOLA POS will create the best processing experience for your company. For more information, visit us at our website or call (866) 509-7199.

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