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Expecting a Big Refund on a Credit Card Purchase? You Can Ask For a Check Instead

Published May 5, 2020

3 minute read

Devon Taylor

By Devon Taylor

There’s a pretty good chance you’re getting a refund soon. After all, things are being cancelled all over right now. It might only be a small one, like the cost of a mid-tier concert ticket. Or maybe it’s larger than that, like season tickets for a sports season that won’t be happening anytime soon. It could be a huge refund, like a lavish family vacation — flights, hotel, theme park tickets, etc. With those kinds of events postponed (at best) and outright cancelled (at worst), the money you paid up front will be coming back to you.

On one hand, that’s great. You might need that cash right now more than you need summer festival tickets. On the other hand, if you practice smart credit card usage and don’t carry a monthly balance, these refunds are less exciting. The default method for these refunds will likely be putting a credit against your credit card balance. If you’re carrying a large balance, then no worries. Let the credit appear and you’ll be one step closer to zero credit card debt. But what if the balance is already at zero?

Having thousands of dollars worth of negative balance on your credit card won’t help you pay the rent this month. Or buy groceries. If you’re expecting more than $1,000 worth of a refund, you should simply ask your credit card company to cut you a check.

Wait, What? Will They Do That?

Thanks to the Truth in Lending Ask, there are little used rules that come into play here. If you are showing a large account credit thanks to a refund, call your credit card company. Specifically ask them to refund that negative balance to you. They are required to respond with seven days.

It’s a simple process, actually. The toll free number on the back of your card will get you in touch with the right person. Some credit cards also have the option available via their online account management website. Then just wait for the check to arrive in the mail. When it arrives, use it for whatever you need most — rent, other essentials, or just stash it in a savings account so you can take that trip again when the world goes back to normal.

The Last Word

As we said, you probably only want to go through this hassle if the refund is particularly large. You can easily use your card enough to eat through a $500 account credit in the span of a month. Some groceries, a tank of gas, some online shopping. However, much larger sums are always better in your own pocket, instead of being held hostage by a credit card.

Here’s one situation where it makes sense to ignore this entire article, though. If you have a particularly generous credit card rewards program, you may want to consider keeping a large negative balance. Then you can pay for literally everything with your credit card until the balance goes back to zero, reaping valuable points/miles in the process.

Open Wallet Spilling Credit Cards and Coins


Devon Taylor

Managing Editor

Devon is an experienced writer and a father of three young children. He's simultaneously trying to build college funds and plan for an eventual retirement. He's been in online publishing since 2013 and has a degree from the University of Guelph. In his free time, he loves fanatically following the Blue Jays and Toronto FC, camping with his family, and playing video games.

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