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How to refund a game on Steam

Maybe you went a bit overboard during the latest Steam sale, or realized that your potato of a PC can’t handle your new game except on the lowest settings. Whatever the reason, you want a refund from Steam on your recent purchases. Thankfully, Steam has a straightforward and fair refund policy in place.

The simple answer is that you must go to this Steam support page, sign in, and request a refund within 14 days of purchase. But there are some limits on which games or DLC you can refund, and entirely different rules for refunding Steam hardware like the Valve Index. Here’s everything you need to know about Steam’s refund rules and restrictions.

Further reading

How to be refunded for a game on Steam

Oh dear, I snatched up Toki Tori for 90% off, only to remember that I already own it on my Switch! It may only be $0.49, but half a dollar can take you pretty far during a Steam sale. It’s time to get that money back.

1. Log in to Steam Support in your browser

Step one for getting a Steam refund is to log in. You'll see your recently purchased games.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

There is no way to get a refund through your Steam app. You must go to help.steampowered.com and log into your Steam account there. Assuming you have two-factor authentication added — which you really should — you’ll need to put in your emailed code here as well.

2. Select the game you wish to refund

This Steam refund page lets you decide which game you want refunded.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Along with other account issues, you can select any of your previous purchases from the past six months to request a refund. However, Steam’s policy is to only honor refund requests for games purchased in the past 14 days. It is highly unlikely that a refund request for a game bought a month ago will be honored, even if you never hit Play in the interim.

3. Explain your problem with the purchase

Steam Support page asking what the issue with your game was, before you can request a Steam refund.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The request form will ask for an explanation as to why you want to cancel your purchase. Technically, if you fall within the 14-day window and haven’t played the title for more than two hours, then your refund request will likely be honored no matter what you select. It’s still a good idea to give a valid reason for the request, but you can always just say “My issue isn’t listed.”

4. Select I’d like to request a refund and submit your request

When requesting a Steam refund, you can choose how you will be repaid and give more information on why your request should be honored.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

You’re in the home stretch. Choose the “I’d like to request a refund option,” and you’ll be able to choose whether you want your card refunded or simply refund the money to your Steam Wallet. Valve says that certain payment methods don’t support refunds, but the following methods should:

  • PayPal
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Discover
  • JCB

Below that option, you will see your previously selected reason you need a refund, but there will be a notes field that allows you to put in more information.

Valve says that “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 think you have a valid refund case for an ineligible purchase, now is your chance to make your argument.

Now, just submit your request and you’ll receive a confirmation email that the request has been received.

5. Wait for confirmation

Steam says that it tries to honor or reject refund requests within seven days, but oftentimes they will respond within the same day. Once they do, you’ll receive a new confirmation email either way, so don’t worry about watching your bank account before then.

Once approved, the refund can take up to seven days to appear in your account, and Steam says that “international payment methods may take longer.” However, if the request was approved within 24 hours of the purchase, Steam will instead cancel the original transaction, meaning you will no longer see the charge or a credit on your account.

If your refund request was denied but you think you weren’t treated fairly, you can go back to the same Steam support page, go through the same refund steps again, and try to make a better case for it. Your request “will be reviewed by another Valve employee.”

Steam refund eligibility rules

As mentioned above, the main rule to remember for Steam refunds is that you must submit the application within 14 days of purchase, and you cannot have played the game for more than two hours. Even 121 minutes of tracked playtime is enough for Valve to reject your request.

However, there are rules for specific categories of purchases, like DLC or in-game downloads, that are worth considering. We’ve collected all of the information you need to know below on what you can return and which reasons for returning games are valid.

Refundable content

Valve Index price release date specs hardware 1000 500 499 999
Image used with permission by copyright holder

1. How to refund Steam hardware: The amount of time you have to return Steam hardware varies by device: The Valve Index has a 14-day return window, while others may extend up to 30 days. Regardless, to return them, you start by using the same Steam Support steps listed above, as your hardware purchases will be listed among your game purchases.

Once you declare that you’ll be returning your device, Steam will send you a list of instructions on how to return it. You must mail the hardware back to Valve within 14 days, and you’ll be responsible for the cost of shipping it. Once Valve ascertains that the hardware is still in near-new condition, you’ll be refunded for the cost of the device, plus the cost of shipping it to you. If you paid extra for faster shipping, though, Valve will only refund for the cost of standard shipping.

2. The clock for pre-ordered purchases starts on launch day: You eagerly pre-ordered a game months ago after seeing an awesome E3 trailer, only to see gamers panning it online once it actually launched. Not to worry: The rule banning refunds two weeks after purchase doesn’t apply to pre-purchased titles until the game actually goes live.

3. Bundles and gifts are (usually) refundable: Generally speaking, game bundles retain the same 14-day, two-hour limit as individual purchases, except your two hours spread across the entire bundle. You cannot play an hour in 10 different games and expect to return them all afterward. One potential exception: Some bundles with nonrefundable DLC may also be nonrefundable, so make sure to check for yourself before buying.

As for gifted games, you (the gifter) can only return it until the gift has been redeemed. From that point on, only the gift recipient can return them within the 14-day/two-hour window. In either case, the money returns to the original buyer.

4. Lower sale prices are a perfectly valid reason to get a refund: Say you buy a game for full price, a week before it goes on sale. Steam explicitly calls out this scenario as a legitimate excuse to refund a game. Submit the request, and then you’ll be able to repurchase it at a discount once the request is approved. However, if you have a limited time to buy it on sale, buy it as a gift at the sale price, wait for the refund to go through, and then gift the game to yourself.

Nonrefundable content

This shows some EVE Online DLC that is not eligible for refund.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

1. Some DLC is nonrefundable: Generally, DLC has the same refund policy as full games, meaning you can refund it within 14 days if you haven’t played the base game for more than two hours after downloading the expansion. Even if you don’t play the DLC portion of the game, Steam will count any gameplay hours against your time limit.

Before you buy any DLC, check to see if Steam has it marked as nonrefundable. Some DLC, like in-game money or auto-leveling, cannot be reversed in-game, and consequently cannot be refunded.

2. Refunds for in-game purchases vary by publisher: Within Valve games, in-game purchases can only be returned within 48 hours, and specifically if these purchases have not been “consumed, modified, or transferred.” As for other publishers, the vast majority of in-game purchases aren’t going to be refundable, and certainly not through Steam’s refund portal.

3. Cheaters don’t prosper: Valve specifically says that any gamer that loses access to a game after being caught cheating isn’t eligible for a refund.

4. You can’t refund Steam keys: This is fairly obvious, but to be thorough, you can’t activate a Steam key bought from another site, then refund it through Steam. And once the key is activated, it’s doubtful that whatever third-party site that sold it to you is going to give you a refund either.

5. No video refunds: No, you can’t download a Steam film, watch it for one hour 59 minutes, then return it. Once bought, it can’t be returned.

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