Cancelling direct debits from credit cards

I need some advice please. I rang my bank to advise that I wish to cancel a direct debit from my credit card, but they informed me it cannot be done. I have already written a letter to the merchant and the merchant has acknowledged and committed to cancelling the DD but I just wish to ensure this goes through so had wanted to inform the bank also.

The bank advised that all I can do is wait and see and if the account is debuted again then contact them and fill in one of those forms for a reversal and they could contact MasterCard who once are involved, it would be cancelled. This sounds ludicrous to me. It appears that the control is completely out of my hands and with the merchant and I am at their mercy having to wait their next move rather than being proactive and having the ability to control my own finances. I asked the banking officer 3 times why I couldn’t they couldn’t simply cancel it over the phone with me, and each time she simply sympathized and said it couldn’t be done!!!

Could somebody please explain this to me and is there anything else I can do? Thanks.


The reason is because you have given the merchant authorisation to debit your card either in writing or electronically, which they have forwarded to your bank.
The bank was not involved in the authorisation and hence cannot cancel it.
Apart from expecting the merchant to do the right thing, your other option is to cancel your card or get the card number changed.


I could add many words regarding my esteem for your banking officers not providing you more useful information; this page should assist.

Note the differences between a direct debit and a direct debit to a credit card and the implicit linkage to contracts law re payments.


They do not actually send anything to the bank, they tick the box telling the bank they have one. It reflects ‘self regulation’ issues as discussed in other threads.

There have been reports that customers have tried that, and their helpful banks redirected the debits to the new cards so that is not always a magic bullet. Ah banks. :roll_eyes:


Yes they said this to me also. You can cancel the card altogether and they could reissue a new one but that the direct debits would simply be transferred across! WTH!!! This is outrageous and needs to stop.


I was meaning that the merchant advises the bank of the authorisation, but it would not surprise me that the banks might transfer the authorisation to a new card requested by the customer, even though they do not do so when one receives their new unrequested cards as has happened to us twice in 2 months.

As for the banks, there is plenty I would like to post about the but it would undoubtedly result in my being booted from this forum.


Here are some more useful websites:

The FOS information may be useful to print out and attach to any correspondence to the bank and merchant requesting the cancelling of the direct debit.

Most bank websites also have information in relation to cancelling direct debits and what is required by that particular bank. For example:

The other thing to do is look at the bank issued credit card terms and conditions (also should be available on the relevant bank website) to see what it says specifically in relation to cancelling direct credit card debits with the particular card incurring the transactions.


I read the 3 articles that you posted links to.
CBA clearly state that they cannot cancel recurring payments by a credit card or debit MasterCard.
Westpac state that they cannot cancel recurring payments.
ANZ NZ merely tell customers to contact the “initiator”.

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It looks like the silver bullet concept is that one has to ‘cancel the authority’ for ‘recurring payments’ put on a credit card, with a copy of that cancellation sent to the bank if the merchant does not timely comply, when it then becomes a disputed transaction…

It seems a play with semantics but even though they ‘cannot’ cancel the ‘recurring payments’ they can cancel the ‘authority to draw recurring payments’. My frosty legal mind thus concludes cancelling recurring payments (eg debits to credit cards) becomes a legal refusal to pay a bona fide debt, while cancelling the authority is not a refusal to pay and implies “regardless, I will pay my contractual obligations”.

Why this would be different between a debit card and credit card is beyond me but the pointers are that a debit card is essentially money and your account and you are the first person owner, whereby a credit card is an arms length intermediary whose issuer has agreed to advance you money for purchases, services, and payments, that you have agreed to repay to the issuer in some manner.

Is it / It is starting to make ‘lawyer sense’!


For future reference too if you ever have the option to do a recurring payment via Paypal instead of direct then do it. Recurring payments from Paypal give “you” the control. You simply go into Paypal & cancel/delete/revoke. I NOW always use PP if I can.


It is many years ago now, but I once complained at a bank that I had asked the always-trustworthy-gym-membership deduction be cancelled, in writing more than once as well as speaking to them several times and still the direct debit was taken, monthly. The teller said, “I can stop the payment at this end.” They did so instantly and I had no further problem. Maybe things have changed over time, but worth asking again if the business does not adhere to their responsibility to cancel when advised in writing. Don’t take no for an answer. Ask for further information from your bank on what you should do next, if they say they can’t help.


Thanks everyone for your advice and info and links. It is all very helpful. I think I will closely monitor my credit card and ensure I never put a dd on a cc again!!!


There is also guidance on ASIC website here
However I was under the misapprehension that a bank could and would stop ALL forms of direct debits when requested to do so. Is this something you could look into Choice?


Thanks for your response Paul. I will take a look at this.
I was hoping that Choice would look into this also as the control needs to be in the hands of customers not merchants and big business.


They have indeed looked into it and probably are planning to do so again if not already looking at the problem as it has been mentioned in some topics on this forum in the past. To the 2017 Choice topic see:

For some others on this forum that reference the DD problems:


yes its true. you cant do it. thats why i dont do direct debit unless its from someone i absolutely know i can trust


There are very few absolutes in this life when it comes to trust. Perhaps the best we really can hope for in most cases is a high probability they will be trustworthy and the proof will only become evident when we need to question the processes and see the outcomes.


Tell the Bank you have lost your card (the dog ate it or whatever) they then have to cancel and give you another with a new number OK its a lie but it forces the issue in your favour OR change to Coles Mastercard. I found a strange charge on my card, rang them and they cancelled the card as it had been compromised If it is a trusted merchant (not fred from woopwoop) they might tell you to pay it till the transaction had been checked out and you would be refunded on the next month.

That’s a proper response from MasterCard?

Previously I’ve had similar service from Visa through the ANZ and American Express. Amex have been on the ball and picked up dodgy transactions on attempted authorisation, as has ANZ.


FWIW you just need to ask for a new card number because you believe it has been compromised. However you may have missed the salient issue. Even if you have a new card number issued by the same bank, the bank will connect ‘recurring payments’ to the new card.

A card account is not the same as a card number. A card account can have multiple card numbers assigned over its lifetime, hence why the ‘recurring payment’ follows the card number change.

However if you close a card account and open one at a different bank (new bank, new account, new card) you are correct that the recurring payment cannot follow as the authorisation is to a specific bank and account. However, in a worst case a merchant not getting his authorised recurring payment could turn over your account to a collection agent.

A disputed transaction (eg strange charge) is treated the same by all issuers, however with different levels of competence and customer service. The basic process is dictated by Visa, Mastercard, Amex, etc. A disputed transaction follows the script whereby

  1. you usually are asked to pay whatever your current bill shows,
  2. the bank gives temporary credit for the disputed charge while investigating,
  3. if the merchant substantiates the charge to the bank’s satisfaction the charge is reinstated on your account, or
  4. if the merchant cannot substantiate the charge your credit is made permanent and the amount is deducted from the merchants account (called a ‘charge back’),

sometimes ‘2’ and ‘3’ can be iterative prior to arriving at ‘4’.

To stop recurring payments the system requires you to

  1. send the merchant a notice that the authority to debit recurring payments from your credit card account is revoked. Have proof you sent it and if possible that the merchant received it.
  2. If they continue taking the recurring payments after receiving the revocation notice, send a copy of the revocation notice to the bank with a disputed charge claim. The bank will require the merchant prove they have authority, which they no longer have.

There are anecdotal stories of dodgy merchants playing the system for one billing cycle, but not two when the customer timely files the revocation notice.