In late 2015, Valve changed Steam’s refund policy to a much more generous one. This new Steam refund policy allows users to refund a game without having a particular reason to do so.
Users can refund games because they don’t work properly on their computer, or just because they don’t like the game. If you don’t particularly like any of these reasons, you don’t really need to use them. Valve will refund your game, no questions asked — as long as you’re eligible for a refund.
This feature is not only useful for those purchases you deeply regret, but it also allows you to try games that do not offer a demo, buying it and refunding it a bit afterwards.
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t abuse the system, or Steam might revoke your access to the feature and that you need to check a few requirements in order to be eligible for a refund.
When Are You Eligible For A Refund?
If you’re thinking that Steam’s refund policy allows you to refund any game on your Steam library, think again.
The system works very well, but with a few caveats. There are two requirements you absolutely need in order to refund a game through the system:
- You need to have purchased the game in the last 14 days.
- You must have played the game for less than 2 hours.
Games that have been purchased outside of Steam and added after to Steam via a product key are not eligible for refunds. To refund such purchases you’d have to do it through the retailer of the product key.
Even though you can often save money by buying CD-Keys outside of Steam through third-party resellers, this feature allows you to refund games you think you might not like and is an incentive to buy it through their channel.
Don’t Abuse the System
Of course, this system should not be abused. If you buy games just to try them out and constantly refund them, Valve will ban you from the system. It even says so on their policy: “Refunds are designed to remove the risk from purchasing titles on Steam—not as a way to get free games”.
As long as you’re not buying games just to try them out, you will most likely be fine.
If you buy a game and refund it due to it being on sale—so you can buy it back at a lower price—, you won’t be abusing the system. As long as you have played the game for less than 2 hours, you can refund a game to buy it back at a lower price.
There are simple ways of getting your money back. You can either get the money returned to your original payment method (such as to your credit card), or you can get it in Steam Wallet credit, to spend it back on Steam.
How to Refund a Steam Game
After making sure that you follow the two requirements, getting a game refunded is relatively simple.
First, you need to go to Steam’s support website. You can visit directly via your browser, or you can reach it through Steam, by hitting “Help” at the top, and then choosing “Steam Support”.
If you reach the webpage via your browser, you will need to log into your Steam account. If you do it through the Steam client, no log in will be necessary—you will be automatically signed in.
Once in the support page, if you’ve recently played the game you want to refund, you might see it at the top of the page under “Recent Products”. If you can’t immediately find the game, you will need to hit the “Purchases” tab.
The “purchases” tab will list every purchase you’ve made on Steam in the past six months. It won’t only list the games you’ve purchased. Items traded on the Community Market, such as trading cards and game items, will also show up there.
Once you’ve found the game you wish to refund, Steam will ask what’s the issue you’re having with the game. You just need to press the “I would like a refund” button.
If the reason why you’re refunding the game is a technical one (the game isn’t running properly, or something along those lines), then you might want to try one of the technical support options available on the page.
If you’re certain that you would like to refund the game, click on “I’d like to request a refund”.
You can choose where you’d like to receive the refund — on your Steam Wallet, or on your original payment method.
Steam will automatically check if you’re eligible for a refund and refund you the game if you are.
If you’re not eligible for a refund, Steam will notice you of the fact. It might still let you apply for a refund.
Steam will like to know the reason why you’re refunding the game. Even though you don’t need to explain yourself in order to receive your refund, Steam would still like to know why, so they and the game developer can better their service.
After submitting your refund request, Steam will notify you via email that your refund request has been received. You will then need to wait for Valve to review your refund request.
If you meet the aforementioned requirements, you will most likely receive an email saying your refund request was approved and that the purchase was refunded. Refund requests can take a couple of hours to about a day.
Can you request a refund for a game outside the 2-hour/14-day window?
Yes. Valve will review these refund requests on a case-by-case basis. There’s no guarantee that your game will be refunded if it’s outside the refund period.
If the game’s purchase goes way outside the 14-day limit, then the refund request won’t be approved.
How many games can you refund?
There’s no limit to how many games you can refund. As long as you have valid reasons for wanting to refund the game and you follow the refund requirements, Steam will refund your game.
Keep in mind that if Valve believes you’re abusing the system, it might revoke your access to it.
Can you challenge a refused refund request?
If you believe that your refund request wasn’t properly reviewed and was unfairly denied, you can issue another refund request. The good thing about this is that it will be reviewed by a different Valve employee.
Challenging refused requests can often overturn the decision.
How long will it take for you to get your money back?
If you take the refund in Steam Wallet credit, you will most likely get it after about a day. Other payment methods can take longer, but are usually processed within a 7-day limit.
Is the entire process automated?
If the refund is being made within the 14 days and you have less than 2 hours of playtime, then the request will be approved automatically.
If you’ve requested an unusual amount of refunds lately or you don’t follow the 14-day and 2-hour requirements, your refund request will be manually reviewed by an employee.
Can you be warned for refunding too many games?
As long as you use your common sense, everything will be alright. However, if you start requesting an abnormal amount of requests, you might get a warning.
Valve will issue you a warning along the successful refund ticket, telling you that the system is not intended for you to try out games.
Even though there’s no concrete evidence, the warning seems to be triggered after requesting 5 refunds in a 6-month span.
The usual warning message is: “You’ve requested a bunch of refunds recently. Please keep in mind that refunds are not a method for trying out games. If we think the refund system is being misused we’ll decline to grant future refunds.”
Can you farm cards and afterwards refund the game?
This was possible when the system was first implemented. However, Valve changed the way Steam trading cards worked in order to minimize abuse.
Cards won’t drop until you’ve played the game for at least 2 hours, which that when the first card drops you’re no longer eligible for an automatic refund. This restriction applied to every Steam user, but Valve changed it so it only applies to new users and users which made a refund request within the last couple of months.
The other change Steam made to its trading card system was preventing newly released games from dropping cards. Now, games must be owned by a certain amount of individuals and have an unknown amount of players in order to start dropping cards.
This denominated “Confidence Metric” is not the same for every game and its purpose is to stop the release of games whose sole intention is to make money by card farming.
Also, it’s worth remembering that even though Valve might refund your game outside the 2-hour and 14-day span, Valve will notice that you’re using the system to farm cards and will prevent you from requesting refunds again.
Has Steam gifting system changed the way refunds work?
Before May 2017, gifts used to be items on your inventory which you traded to your friends. Now, they work a little differently. When you purchase a game as a gift, you must immediately send it to a friend or schedule the gifting to a specific date.
If the friend declines the gift, the money is automatically refunded to the buyer.
Can you purchase a gift you’ve bought for someone else?
As long as the gift hasn’t been accepted yet, you can refund it the same as you would any other game.
Can you refund an already redeemed game?
Yes, however the refund request will have to be issued by the gift recipient. The other refund rules apply as well — the purchase has to have been made in a 14-day time window, and the gift recipient has to have less than 2 hours of playtime.
Can you refund multiple games you’ve bought in a single purchase?
Yes, but the process isn’t as simple as refunding a game from a single purchase. Keep in mind that this won’t work with games that are part of a bundle. In those cases you can only refund the bundle or have no refund at all.
In order to be able to refund a single game out of a multiple game transaction, you need to accept the refund in Steam Wallet credits. If you want the refund in your original payment method, you will need to refund the entire purchase or live without a refund.
You will need to check the items you want to refund and confirm the total value of the refund, ignoring the fact that Steam lists every game you’ve purchased in the same transaction.
If the refund is approved, only the selected games will be removed from your library and you will get the refund in your Steam wallet.
Can you refund bundles?
Refunding bundles is possible, but the 2-hour gameplay limit applies cumulatively to every game in the bundle. This means that you will need to have played less than 2 hours total, regardless of the particular game in the bundle.
Some bundles might include non-refundable DLC. Those games may not be refundable. Pay attention when purchasing your games — Steam will notify you if the game comes with non-refundable DLC.
Can you refund a single game from a bundle?
No. You can either refund the complete bundle or have no refund at all.
Can you refund a game to rebuy it at a cheaper price?
Yes. If you follow the refund requirements, Steam allows you to refund a game to buy it again on sale.
Keep in mind that since refunds can take some time, you might need to be forced to pay for the on-sale game and receive the refund a few days later.
As you can see, as long as you’re eligible for a refund, requesting a refund on Steam is not complicated at all.
If you have any doubts about refunds on Steam, let us know so we can help you. Remember not to abuse the system or you might have your refund privileges revoked!
Petr is a serial tech entrepreneur and the CEO of Apro Software, a machine learning company. Whenever he’s not blogging about technology for itechgyan.com or softwarebattle.com, Petr enjoys playing sports and going to the movies. He’s also deeply interested about mediation, Buddhism and biohacking.