Arbitration chargebacks are the “ugly divorce” of transaction disputes. It means you have exhausted all reasonable recourse to resolve a dispute between you, the cardholder, and the banks, and you have to “go to court”. Arbitration is expensive, time-consuming, and risky; it has to be absolutely worth it if you’re taking this route. We’ll look at all the post-representment phases that make up arbitration, so you can see just how “worth it” this adventure has to be.


More often than not, arbitration is initiated by the cardholder upon a merchant’s successful representment. Typically, ChargebackHelp won’t pursue representment for our clients unless we are certain it will succeed. When we do, and the cardholder or issuer rejects the outcome, they escalate the dispute to the card association involved, who acts as a judge and rules on the evidence provided. This post-representment escalation is known as arbitration.

Whoever escalates, it means they have new information above what was provided in the initial representment. And they must be confident of a favorable outcome because the loser pays all the arbitration fees. In addition the transaction amount, fees charged are as follows (in US Dollars):

Resources on Representment

VISA Fees (can also be divided between parties)

  • $250 Filing fee
  • $250 Review fee

MasterCard Fees

  • $150 Filing fee
  • $250 Administrative fee
  • $150 Withdrawal fee (conditional if you withdraw before a decision)
  • $100 Technical fee (conditional on failure to follow timelines or terms)

In either case, the loser of arbitration will pay at least $500, plus the amount of the transaction. So again, you have to be absolutely certain of your outcome if you’re going to take it this far.


The answer is “almost never.” Arbitration escalates a dispute to the clients’ respective card association. It’s like putting your ugly divorce in the hands of your mother-in-law. They will make their ruling based on what’s in the best interest of themselves and their clients’. That’s not you.

The only time a merchant should go into arbitration is if the transaction in question is a significant amount of money. Your net from the sale should be at least as much as the above fees, if not more. Even then, it’s important to review your side of the dispute and make sure your compelling evidence is rock solid. If the issuer/cardholder is escalating to arbitration, it almost certainly means they’re bringing new evidence to bear on the case, so be ready.

More important than all that is that you have experienced help in your corner, namely ChargebackHelp. We know the process of arbitration inside and out and we can guarantee our clients’ ROI on representment. Find out what that means for your business. Drop us a chat down on the right, shoot us an email, or go old-school and call us 1.800.975.9905.