I received a credit to a credit card account I used to purchase a airline ticket. Trip was cancelled and the refund went into that credit card account and there is a zero balance, but a $560 credit balance. How do I retrieve that amount

  • Have you called the bank? – quid Jul 2 '19 at 18:53

Generally, credit card issuing banks will not automatically refund balances in your favor. Policies on how this is handled will vary from bank to bank, but it's typical that they would leave the credit on your account for several months - essentially using it to offset any new purchases you make.

If you'd rather be given cash, you can call or write to the bank and request a refund. Typically they would do this by sending you a paper check, but there may be other options and your best bet is to call and ask.


Between gas and groceries, why not just use the card for these regular essential purchases? In my opinion, that's far easier than picking up the phone.

  • This has the advantage of getting rewards points if the card has a rewards program! – dwizum Jul 2 '19 at 19:26
  • @dwizum A refund of a previous purchase will typically reverse any rewards for that purchase so it's probably a wash. – Eric Jul 2 '19 at 19:42
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    @Eric Not sure it's a wash. (1) You buy airline ticket, and possibly get some rewards. (2) The ticket is refunded, and the rewards for it (if any) are reversed. (3) You buy groceries, gas, etc. using the refunded balance, and get rewards for these. Summary: you're left with rewards for (3). All the more reason to follow this advice. – void_ptr Jul 2 '19 at 19:48
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    Yes, the points on the original purchase are lost, but this is a chance to essentially re-earn them vs lose them for good, on money you're probably going to spend anyways. I guess that's the long winded and more correct version of my first comment! – dwizum Jul 2 '19 at 19:48
  • @dwizum: You're assuming that everyday purchases and travel expenses earn at the same rate.... which is predominantly not true in today's credit card ecosystem. – Ben Voigt Jul 4 '19 at 14:29

Simply phone customer service

And have them mail you a check, or e-transfer if you have an account linked. This is no trouble at all, it happens all the time.

The reason they don't do it automatically is most people use their cards regularly, and so this credit balance will soon be consumed by other purchases. Therefore the expense and trouble of mailing a check is simply not worth it.

You could just do that, you know. If it is not currently your habit to use the credit card for routine purchases, go ahead and do so until the credit is consumed.

By the way, speaking generally, a credit balance is your money. For instance I find it tedious to pay the $20 water bill every month. So I simply send them $150 as needed. After about 8 months the balance goes above zero and I send them another $150. And I've done this -- when I cancel service, they cheerfully send me a refund check for the balance.

  • I think it's less about the expense of mailing a check and more about the potential for surprised (and angry) customers who know they have a credit covering their purchases, don't make a payment, and if the credit had been refunded would now have missed making a minimum payment, resulting in late fees, credit report dings, and penalty rates (possibly also on unrelated accounts). – Ben Voigt Jul 4 '19 at 14:32
  • @BenVoigt Very good point. However on my very first credit card, I learned that a return posting to your account does not substitute for a minimum payment. This was awhile ago, and was on a Sears store card. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 4 '19 at 14:34
  • It does void the minimum payment if it brings you into a credit balance. The minimum payment is never more than the total amount owed (at least, on any credit card I've ever seen, which is quite a few). – Ben Voigt Jul 4 '19 at 14:35
  • @BenVoigt True, that. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jul 4 '19 at 14:36

Since your credit card shows both a zero balance and a $560 credit balance, the actual amount of your own money in the credit card account is zero and the $560 is the amount you can borrow on your card. Unless you have transactions pending, the $560 is also your credit limit.

Say you started with a fresh card, nil balance and $560 credit limit. Then you bought tickets worth $200. You now have a balance of $200 that you owe the bank, and $360 credit limit remaining. Then you get the refund, which puts the $200 back, leaving you with nothing owing to the bank and the full $560 credit limit available.

If you pull this $560 into your checking account, you are borrowing $560 at cash-advance rates, which can be higher than credit card rates on purchases. You will also have to pay back the $560 at some time.

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    I'm not sure this matches the scenario the OP is describing. If I have a $500 limit, and I charge $300, then pay my bill in full - and after paying the bill, I get a $300 refund, I will truly have a $300 credit balance in my favor, in addition to the $500 limit. – dwizum Jul 3 '19 at 12:13
  • @dwizum That’s possible as well, and I think the other answers have used that assumption. I’ve presented the alternate interpretation. Credit card statements can be tricky to read. I’ll let the OP pick whichever suits the situation better. – Lawrence Jul 3 '19 at 13:20
  • What you describe in this answer is a credit limit, not a credit balance. Whereas with an actual credit balance, the monthly statement would show $0 as "balance due". – Ben Voigt Jul 4 '19 at 14:34
  • @BenVoigt That's right. The OP didn't use the term "balance due", just "balance" and "credit balance". The other answers are probably correct; I'm leaving this answer up for now in case the OP used the terms informally. If the OP didn't make any other purchases on the credit card, then having the refund take the balance back to zero makes sense. – Lawrence Jul 4 '19 at 14:44

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