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I've bought an airline ticket (with SK) that I'm entitled to refund per their Conditions of Carriage because of a schedule change. They've agreed to refund me, but say that they will only refund me to the card I used to book the flight. This card has been cancelled, and I will not be able to get the money from my bank if it is "returned" to this card.

Are airlines entitled to only repay you to the credit card you booked with when this is not mentioned in their CoC? If not, who do you contact to enforce your agreement with them (short of small claims court)?

  • Have you checked the terms and conditions of your ticket? – user16259 May 13 '18 at 12:05
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    'This card has been cancelled, and I will not be able to get the money from my bank if it is "returned" to this card.' Is this only your assumption or have you actually been told this by your bank? It is a common procedure to refund payments to expired or cancelled cards and it should not be an issue for your bank to credit the refund to any other account you may have. – Tor-Einar Jarnbjo May 13 '18 at 12:15
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    @cigikath I was in similar predicament. It worked fine since the old card was mapped to my new card. So all refunds flow to the new one. This is in India. Probably same works for your case. – Rahul May 13 '18 at 20:36
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    It works the same way in the US. – Michael Hampton May 14 '18 at 6:51
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    @Tor-EinarJarnbjo I no longer have an account with the bank (these tickets were booked quite a while ago) and they've made it clear that they won't pass any money along my way. – cigikath May 14 '18 at 20:13
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Call customer service and ask the issue to be escalated. I understand it is easiest and safest for them to pay pack on the original card but - particularly since there is no such restriction on the CoC - there is no reason to disallow another method of payment. Even if you did not cancel your card yourself, it is the same result if the card would be stolen or withdrawn from the market by the bank (last year on of my cards was cancelled because the bank stopped their relationship with the rewards program it was tied to, so it does happen). You can even ask for a check to be mailed.

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    Getting a check mailed would be the equivalent of a free cash advance on the credit card, which is a no-no – user2813274 May 13 '18 at 16:14
  • It is possible though and I have done it. You are right that it could be an issue but since they often charge a refund fee, they probably factor in the card fee there. I have not done it on a fully refundable flight though. – Itai May 13 '18 at 19:28
  • @user2813274 I disagree. The airline is in possession of the money debited to the original card. The OP wants it back from the airline, not the credit card company. – traktor53 May 14 '18 at 1:55
  • This doesn't help OP, but just as an interesting data point, I bought a ticket on American using a multiple AA gift cards, plus a bit on a credit card. I ended up having to sit in a lower cabin class than what I paid for, so I requested a refund for the price difference. The credit card portion was reissued to the credit card, and the remainder was sent by paper check directly from AA (rather than issuing a new gift card, which was the original form of payment). – Ivan X May 19 '18 at 22:33
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Most airlines, and other companies, will only refund to the original card. This is done to avoid fraud, with people purchasing tickets with a stolen card, then requesting a refund to a card they control.

If the airline issues the refund to the original card then it will almost certainly succeed (despite the card being canceled). When this occurs, you will then be able to contact the bank that issued the card and request a refund. In some cases this refund will happen automatically, but it's still worth contacting them.

The other option is to have the airline issue the refund in the form of a voucher/credit that can be used for future travel. This would only be a viable option if you intended to fly with them again, and normally such a voucher would have an expiry date (often a year, either from the time it was issued, or from the time you purchased the ticket)

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    I have done so before, and the money appears on the replacement card. The card issuer basically forwards it automatically. – Aganju May 13 '18 at 14:48
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    Correct - if only the card (and not the account) has been canceled then the credit should just go to the account. – Doc May 13 '18 at 15:19
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    Actually many companies (in my limited experience of these situations) will issue a refund using alternative means if you explain the situation to them. They will often want additional identity documents sent to them first. – JBentley May 13 '18 at 16:35
  • As I wrote, I won't be able to access the funds if they're processed to my cancelled credit card. – cigikath May 14 '18 at 20:14
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    Even if the card account is closed, the bank can't just keep the refund money. They will have to return it to you somehow. – Johns-305 May 14 '18 at 21:59
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Your assumption of how the credit system works is a reasonable one. However it is also incorrect.

The system's refund procedure accounts for this situation.

If your card was reissued, the credit will appear on the reissued version of the card.

If you cancelled the card and closed and paid off the account, the refund will land as a credit balance on a closed card. It will sit there for awhile and then they will send you a paper check. If you want to hurry that process along, call them. If your address on file is no good and they can't reach you, it will eventually escheat to the state and you can get it from the state.

The refund can only reduce your balance, it does not substitute for a minimum monthly payment

If you owe a balance on that successor card and want the refund to go to a card with a zero balance so you can get one of those checks, that is one thing the system was designed to prevent. The merchant pays a fair service fee on your charge, and if he does a refund in the official way, he gets most of that back. If the merchant diverts your refund to another place, he loses that merchant fee.

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I believe this may be to do with the rules governing the issue and use of credit cards (eg Visa or MasterCard Scheme Rules), and the T&C between the merchant (the airline) and their acquiring bank (the financial institution that processes credit card payments on behalf of the merchant). Taking an example from Barclaycard in the U.K., s3.13 of their Merchant Aquiring T&C states: “Any refund must be made on the same card or account as was used for the original payment. You must not make a refund with cash if the original purchase was made using a card or account.” https://www.barclaycard.co.uk/content/dam/barclaycard/documents/business/help-and-support/merchant-terms-nov-17,0.pdf. Logically therefore, it follows that in using your card to purchase the ticket, you (and the airline) are bound by the credit card T&C rather than the airline’s COC.

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