BACK

Expert Q&A

How to get back overage on card accounts

Summary

You charged an item, paid the card bill, but then returned your purchase, leaving a credit on your card. Do you just spend it or can you get that cash back?

The editorial content below is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners. Learn more about our advertising policy.

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. Please see the bank’s website for the most current version of card offers; and please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch™ tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Question

Dear To Her Credit,
This may be a dumb question. If I paid for a purchase on a credit card and sent in a check to the credit card company to pay for that purchase, how do I get my money back if I don’t go through with the purchase? I know it can be credited back onto my card, but that doesn’t put the money back in my pocket, does it? — Joan

Answer

Dear Joan,
If you paid for a purchase and then canceled or returned the purchase and got your money back, you now have a credit balance on your card. If it was a significant purchase, it could be a large credit balance.

You have several options for handling this unexpected situation.

The most tempting option would be to spend the money on something else that you need or want. Say you have a $500 credit on your account. You’ve already parted with the cash, so now would be a good time to buy a new chair or go on a weekend trip, using your credit card. Assuming your overall finances are on the right track, it’s OK to treat yourself now and then. Or you may want to use the credit balance on your card to make an extra charitable contribution or get new tires for your car.

Another option is to put ordinary budget expenses on your credit card until the credit amount is used up. You can put almost anything on your credit card now — consider paying for groceries, gas, tuition and utilities with this card until the balance is used up. The money’s still not back in your pocket, but it pays your bills, so it comes out the same.

You could just leave the credit balance on your card for a period of time, and the credit card company will send you a check for the balance. This alternative doesn’t put money in your pocket right away, but it’s nice to know you eventually get your cash back, even if you do nothing.

If you want cash back sooner, call your credit card company. It’s not the first time someone has returned an item or even accidentally overpaid the bill. The credit card company should be happy to send you a check for your current credit balance. Just call the toll-free number on the back of your credit card statement.

Here’s what not to do. Don’t use cash advances, by check or credit card, to get your money. You could get hit by extra fees and interest for doing so. You shouldn’t have to pay to get a credit balance back from your credit card account.

And, of course, be careful not to let the credit balance just slip away — and then some. You seem too attentive to your finances to let this happen, but many of us have experienced this phenomenon. A credit balance or other easy access to money often mysteriously disappears, just because it’s available.

See related:What day is my card balance reported to the credit bureaus?

What’s up next?

In Expert Q&A

Sharing medical cards not allowed

Medical card expenses are generally reserved for the cardholder, family members and even pets, but not your latest girlfriend or boyfriend or BFF

Published: January 30, 2015

See more stories
Credit Card Rate Report Updated: November 6th, 2019
Business
15.14%
Airline
17.01%
Cash Back
17.19%
Reward
17.03%
Student
17.23%

Questions or comments?

Contact us

Editorial corrections policies

Learn more

Join the Discussion

We encourage an active and insightful conversation among our users. Please help us keep our community civil and respectful. For your safety, do not disclose confidential or personal information such as bank account numbers or social security numbers. Anything you post may be disclosed, published, transmitted or reused.

The editorial content on CreditCards.com is not sponsored by any bank or credit card issuer. The journalists in the editorial department are separate from the company’s business operations. The comments posted below are not provided, reviewed or approved by any company mentioned in our editorial content. Additionally, any companies mentioned in the content do not assume responsibility to ensure that all posts and/or questions are answered.