Maybe you got carried away during the latest Steam sale or realized that your budget PC can’t handle your recently purchased game. Whatever the reason, you’re seeking a refund from Steam. Luckily, Steam has a fair and straightforward refund policy in place.
Refunding a Game on Steam: Step by Step
Oh no! I impulsively bought Toki Tori at a 90% discount, only to remember that I already own it on my Switch. It’s just $0.49, but that money could be put to better use during a Steam sale. Let’s get that refund.
Step 1: Log in to Steam Support in Your Browser
To initiate a refund, you can’t use the Steam app. Instead, go to help.steampowered.com and sign in to your Steam account. If you’ve set up two-factor authentication (which is highly recommended), you’ll need to enter the code sent to your email.
Step 2: Select the Game You Want to Refund
Among various account-related issues, you can choose any of your purchases from the past six months for a refund. However, keep in mind that Steam only accepts refund requests for games bought within the last 14 days. Even if you haven’t played the game during that time, requests for older purchases are unlikely to be approved.
Step 3: Explain the Problem with Your Purchase
The request form will prompt you to explain why you want to cancel your purchase. Technically, if you’re within the 14-day window and haven’t played the game for more than two hours, your refund request will likely be approved regardless of the reason you select. However, it’s still a good idea to provide a valid explanation. If none of the options match your situation, you can choose “My issue isn’t listed.”
Step 4: Select “I’d Like to Request a Refund” and Submit
You’re nearing the finish line. Choose the option “I’d like to request a refund.” Then, decide whether you want a refund to your card or to your Steam Wallet. Valve clarifies that some payment methods may not support refunds, but PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and JCB should be eligible. You can also provide additional information in the notes field.
Valve states, “Even if you fall outside of the refund rules we’ve described, you can submit a request, and we’ll take a look at it.” So if you believe your purchase qualifies for a refund despite being outside the standard guidelines, now is your opportunity to make your case. After submitting your request, you’ll receive a confirmation email.
Step 5: Wait for Confirmation
Steam claims to respond to refund requests within seven days, but often, they reply much sooner. You’ll receive a confirmation email once they have reviewed your request, regardless of approval or rejection. Keep in mind that it may take up to seven days for the refund to appear in your account. International payment methods may experience longer processing times. However, if your refund request is approved within 24 hours of purchase, Steam will cancel the original transaction, resulting in no charges or credits appearing on your account.
If your refund request is denied, but you feel it was unfair, you can return to the Steam support page, follow the same refund process, and present a stronger case. Another Valve employee will review your request.
Steam Refund Eligibility Rules
As mentioned earlier, the key rule for Steam refunds is to request one within 14 days of purchase and not exceed two hours of gameplay. Even playing for 121 minutes is enough for Valve to deny your request.
However, different guidelines apply to specific types of purchases, such as DLC or in-game items. Here’s what you need to know about what you can return and which reasons for returning games are considered valid.
How to refund Steam hardware: The time frame for returning Steam hardware varies. The Valve Index has a 14-day return window, while other devices may allow returns within 30 days. To initiate a return, follow the same steps outlined above for refunding a game. Your hardware purchases will be included in the list of games you can request a refund for. Once you declare your intention to return the device, Steam will provide instructions on how to ship it back. You have 14 days to send it and will be responsible for the shipping cost. Once Valve confirms that the hardware is still in near-new condition, you’ll receive a refund for the device’s cost, as well as the standard shipping fee. Additional charges for expedited shipping are not eligible for a refund.
When pre-ordered games launch: Pre-purchased titles are exempt from the two-week refund limitation until the game is officially released. So, if you pre-ordered a game and later regret your decision, you can still request a refund before it launches.
Bundles and gifts: In most cases, game bundles follow the same 14-day and two-hour limit as individual purchases, but the total gameplay time across all games in the bundle counts. For gifts, only the recipient can request a refund within the 14-day/two-hour window. However, if you gifted the game and it hasn’t been redeemed, you can request a refund. In both cases, the money will be returned to the original buyer.
Refunding due to price drops: Buying a game at full price only to see it on sale shortly after is considered a valid reason for a refund. Once your request is approved, you can repurchase the game at the discounted price. If time is limited, you can buy the game as a gift at the sale price, request the refund, and then gift it to yourself.
Some DLC is nonrefundable: Generally, DLC follows the same refund policy as full games. However, if you haven’t played the base game for more than two hours after downloading the DLC, you can request a refund within 14 days. Keep in mind that any gameplay counts toward the time limit, even if it’s related to the DLC content. Before purchasing any DLC, check if it’s marked as nonrefundable by Steam. Certain types of DLC, such as in-game currency or auto-leveling, may not be eligible for a refund.
In-game purchases refund policy: Valve restricts returns of in-game purchases within its own games to 48 hours, as long as the items haven’t been used, modified, or transferred. For games from other publishers, the majority of in-game purchases are typically nonrefundable through Steam.
Cheating invalidates refund eligibility: Valve explicitly states that gamers caught cheating and subsequently losing access to a game are not eligible for a refund.
Steam key purchases: Activating a Steam key purchased from another site and then attempting to refund it through Steam is not possible. Once the key is activated, it’s unlikely that the third-party seller will offer a refund.
No refunds for video purchases: Steam does not offer refunds for movies or videos. Once you buy them, they cannot be returned, even if you watched them for less than two hours.
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