If you've bought something with a credit card that doesn't come close to the image in the catalog, you might be itching for a refund. Unlike a cash refund, this will take longer to process because the retailer has to send the money to your credit card account. After that, it can take a while for the refund to be reflected on your statement.
Refunds vs. Voids
If you change your mind right away, or you're charged a wrong amount, that will probably be processed as a void. The money is returned to your account right away, but it could still take a day or two for it to show up. The card will place the amount on hold for that long so it's not used for something else.
A major factor in the time you're stuck waiting is how long it takes the merchant to process your return. If you're sending merchandise back after buying it through the mail, it could take weeks for the merchant to check the items, approve the return, and get word to the card company. Check the policies of the specific merchant to get an idea of its refund turnaround times.
Credit Card Processing
Card companies usually take three to five days to get the money back into your account. However, it can take two or three billing cycles for the refund to show up on your printed credit card statement. That's because your statement might have already been created at the time of the refund. Occasionally the refund will have a different description than the original charge. For example, the original charge might say, "Sears Hardware," but the subsequent refund might say, "Sears Hardware Return" or it'll have a return code.
Speeding the Process
If the merchant is dragging its feet on your refund request, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company. The card company will reach out to the merchant and decide if you deserve a refund. Some give provisional credits during the investigation. You'll also need to contact the card company if the merchant claims the refund has been issued but it still hasn't shown up in your account.