How to dispute a charge on PayPal: full guide

Gabriela Peratello

PayPal is a super convenient way to spend online — but what happens when things go wrong? If you’re concerned about problems coming up when you buy things with PayPal, it can help to understand the PayPal dispute process, and the resolution center¹ PayPal offers to help buyers and sellers sort out any issues.

This guide covers all you need to know about how to file a dispute with PayPal US, and the PayPal chargeback process when shopping on credit card. We’ll also touch on how a Wise Account can help cut your costs when you shop online internationally.


How to dispute a charge on PayPal: step by step

Wondering: can you get your money back on PayPal? The good news is that there are a couple of different buyer protections if you’ve been disappointed in a purchase, or believe you’ve been a victim of a PayPal scam.

Depending on the situation you’ll need to open a PayPal dispute, or seek a PayPal chargeback through your credit card issuer. If you’re looking to dispute a PayPal charge, you’ll need to register your issue online as soon as you can.

Here’s a quick step by step to get started:

1. Log in to your PayPal account online or in app
2. Tap Help in the PayPal menu
3. Click Dispute a Transaction
4. Select item dispute
5. Follow the onscreen steps to enter the details of the issue

You’ll need to open a dispute in the Resolution Center within 180 calendar days of your purchase. You and the seller can then work together to try to solve the issue by mutual agreement.

If you believe a PayPal charge was made without your consent, the seller must respond to you within 7 days.

In other cases they’ll have up to 20 days to offer a solution. If you’re unhappy with the solution proposed, you’ll need to escalate it to PayPal so they can step in and investigate:

1. Log in to your PayPal account
2. Click on your existing case in the Resolution Center
3. Select File a Claim
4. Follow the onscreen steps to escalate the issue to PayPal

PayPal will look into what’s happened and respond within 30 days, finding in favor of either you or the seller.

What's the difference between dispute and chargeback?

We mentioned you may have 2 options to try to get your money back from PayPal, depending on the situation — a dispute or a chargeback.

A dispute is managed by taking the steps outlined above, to try to solve your issue with the seller, and have PayPal settle the claim if you can’t find a resolution yourself.

A PayPal chargeback² on the other hand is when you’ve paid with a credit card and ask your card issuer to intervene and give you your money back through their card protection service.

This process isn’t managed by PayPal, although PayPal will work with the card issuer to provide all the information needed to help them settle the case one way or another.

When can you file a dispute (or a chargeback) with PayPal?

There are 3 key reasons you may need to dispute a PayPal payment:

  • If an item you bought was paid for but never arrives

  • If an item you bought arrives but is not as it was described

  • If a payment has been made without your authorization

It’s worth noting that PayPal disputes in the case of an item being delivered but not what you expected require the item to be ‘significantly not as described’.

This may apply in situations like the following:

  • An item is completely different to what you ordered

  • An item arrives but has been broken in transit

  • An item arrives missing parts

  • You don’t receive the quantity of an item you ordered

  • You’re delivered fake or counterfeited products

You can’t raise a dispute simply because you changed your mind on a purchase.

Can you dispute a credit card charge on PayPal?

If you’ve paid for an item on PayPal using your credit card you may be able to request a chargeback — a refund processed through your credit card issuer. In this case you’ll need to get in touch with the card issuer directly, and follow their chargeback process.

Can you dispute a PayPal charge on your bank account?

If a PayPal payment has come out of your bank account but you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud or you’ve been charged in error, your own bank may be able to block or reverse the transaction, depending on the situation. Get in touch with your bank as soon as possible to see if they can help.

Can you make a dispute without a PayPal account?

It’s possible to pay for something via PayPal as a guest, without having a PayPal account. If this is what you’ve done, and there’s an issue with the transaction, you can still get a refund, but you’ll need to contact PayPal customer service to file a dispute.

How long do you have to start your dispute with PayPal?

You must file a dispute with PayPal within 180 days of the payment being processed.

Most PayPal issues can be resolved between the buyer and seller directly — but if your payment issue ultimately needs to be settled by PayPal directly, getting your money back may take a while.

The sooner you start this process the better, so don’t wait to file the issue in the PayPal dispute resolution center.

Are there any fees or charges for a PayPal claim?

If you file a PayPal claim, there may be a fee applied, which is paid by the seller. As the buyer raising the issue you should not need to pay any specific cost to dispute a charge.

PayPal also waives the seller fee for issues resolved without their intervention, and levies higher fees for merchants who get lots of chargebacks and disputes — this encourages sellers to prioritize customer service, and solve problems quickly as and when they arise.

PayPal refund fees — currency conversion

One important potential fee when requesting a PayPal refund is the currency conversion charge which is wrapped up in the exchange rate used if you’re shopping internationally.

If you buy something online in a foreign currency, and PayPal completes the currency conversion there will be a fee added to the rate used, which is usually 3% to 4% depending on the details of the transaction³.

If the item is later refunded, it will be converted again back to US dollars or the primary currency of your account⁴. Again the exchange rate used will include the currency conversion fee, which in effect can mean you get back less than you spent in the first place.

Bear in mind also that the exchange rate itself may move between the point that you make the payment, and the point the currency exchange is completed for the refund, which can also impact the amount you get back in the end.

Make secure international payments with Wise


PayPal is a great way to shop online locally, and send payments to friends and family in the US. However, when it comes to any international transaction, PayPal’s fees — including currency conversion costs — can be on the high side.

If you want to buy from an international retailer, or need to send money quickly and securely overseas, you could be better off with a Wise Account. Open a Wise Account online or via the Wise app, for free, and get a linked Wise payment card for a one time fee of 9 USD.

You’ll be able to hold 40+ currencies in your account, send payments to 80+ countries, and spend with your card in 150+ countries around the world. All currency conversion uses the mid-market exchange rate with low, transparent fees which can help you save money.

The vast majority of transactions on PayPal work perfectly — but every now and again it’s inevitable that things go wrong. In this case it’s good to know that PayPal — or your card issuer — can help you file and resolve a PayPal dispute or a PayPal chargeback.

Use this guide to get started if you’ve been unlucky enough to run into problems — and remember to check out the Wise Account for the next time you’re spending or sending money in a foreign currency.

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Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up-to-date pricing and fee information.


  1. PayPal - Solving issues with a purchase
  2. PayPal - Understanding disputes
  3. PayPal - Fees
  4. PayPal - User agreement

Sources checked on 10.11.2022

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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