How to claim a credit/debit card refund for your cancelled holiday or flight

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UPDATED APRIL 29

 

If your package holiday* or flight has been cancelled due to coronavirus, you’re entitled to a full cash refund. If you had to come home early, you’re entitled to a cash refund for the unused elements of the package or a pro-rata refund for the remaining days.

 

You’re entitled to a cash refund within 14 days of the cancellation or curtailment of your holiday, or within seven days of your cancelled flight. The refund should be paid by the company that was responsible for your holiday, so it might not be the travel agent you booked through, it’s most likely to be the tour operator – you should have an ATOL certificate which gives the name of the company responsible for the trip. If you booked a flight via an agent, you’ll have to go back to the agent – not the airline – to ask them to apply for a refund.

 

Unfortunately, many holiday companies and airlines are refusing cash refunds and at best giving clients the option to rebook for a later date or giving ‘refund credits’.  Some are offering vouchers, which must be used within a limited period, others nothing at all.

 

I’ve already written about the possible risk of accepting refund credit, vouchers and credit notes here.

 

If you don’t want to rebook your holiday (which might be the easiest option for you and definitely the best option for the travel company) and you’re not prepared to accept a refund credit or vouchers, you can try to get a refund from your credit or debit card issuer. Remember that when you submit a claim, you need to claim against the company responsible for providing your holiday, which might not be the travel agent you booked through.

 

Credit card claim

 

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, credit card companies are liable for the failed delivery of goods and services, so if you paid for a holiday you didn’t get or it wasn’t as advertised (ie cut short), you have a legal right to claim a cash refund from your credit card issuer as long as the cost of the holiday was more than £100. You can make a claim under the Consumer Credit Act even if you only paid the deposit on your credit card, as long as the holiday cost more than £100 and not more than £30,000.

 

Note that a Section 75 claim can only be made if the holiday booked is for the main cardholder, so you can’t claim for a holiday booked for someone else (unless they were accompanying you) or if it was paid for using a second card on the account. However, you might be able to make a chargeback request instead – see below. You might also be able to make a chargeback request for claims of less than £100 and more than £30,000.

 

If you booked a flight or a package holiday with a tour operator via a third party travel agent your Section 75 claim might be refused because the introduction of an intermediary in the sale process has “broken the chain of credit”. If this is the case, you can try a chargeback request instead (again, see below).

 

To start a claim, you need to call your card issuer, which is most likely your bank, and tell them you want to raise a Section 75 dispute or a chargeback request. Before you do, it’s important to check who’s got your money, otherwise your claim could fail.

 

 

However, I’ve found that some banks are incorrectly rejecting claims, possibly because they’ve had to draft in inexperienced staff working from home to deal with a flood of claims.

 

When I called Lloyds Bank to claim a refund on my MasterCard after my holiday company offered me only vouchers instead of cash, I was told that holiday refund claims are being refused as tour operators are claiming that the cancellations due to the coronavirus are ‘force majeure’, in other words, outside their control. This is incorrect advice. Under the Package Travel Regulations, companies selling package holidays must refund clients for cancellations, regardless of the reason. When I called a second time, I was told that I couldn’t claim a refund as I’d already been offered vouchers by the travel company. Again, this is incorrect as consumers have the right to a cash refund. When I called a third time (I’m persistent!), I was told that any complaint I raised would be refused because “airlines can’t afford to refund everyone”!

 

So, if your credit card issuer refuses to let you raise a claim, or tries to persuade you that you that vouchers are an acceptable resolution, here’s what you should tell them**:

 

1: Package holiday sales are governed by the Package Travel Regulations. Some holiday companies are telling clients that ABTA is the governing body for the travel industry and that ABTA is advising them to issue refund credits instead of cash refunds, but ABTA is a trade association, it doesn’t make the rules, and while it has asked the Government to allow holiday companies more time to issue refunds, the Government hasn’t done so.

 

2: Part 4 of the Package Travel Regulations makes it clear that the holiday company is responsible in all circumstances for the performances of the package, for arranging a pro-rata refund if that is not possible, and for flying clients back to the UK where the package holiday cannot be completed, regardless of the reason. The holiday company cannot relieve itself of these obligation in its Terms & Conditions.

 

Note that Clause 16 (4) of the PTR states that clients are not entitled to compensation unless the holiday company is at fault.

 

3: Clause 14 of the Package Travel Regulations states that clients whose holidays are cancelled or disrupted are entitled to a cash refund within 14 days.

 

4: Clause 8 of Part 2 of the Package Travel Regulations states that in the event of a dispute between the client and the tour operator, the burden of proof rests with the tour operator, so they must show they have complied with the Package Travel Regulations.

 

Chargeback:

 

If you paid with a debit card, the card issuer isn’t legally obliged to refund your holiday but you might be able to make a ‘chargeback’ claim for services you didn’t receive. Under this procedure, they may try to get a refund on your behalf from the tour operator or travel agent.

 

The process is the same as above, the only difference being that your card issuer doesn’t have a legal obligation to provide a refund.

 

You can also make a chargeback request if you paid for someone else’s holiday on your credit card or a second card holder on your account made the booking.

 

 

If you’ve made a claim on your credit or debit card I’d love to hear how you get along, let me know in the comment box below.

 

*A package holiday is defined by the Package Travel Regulations as a flight plus one other element, such as accommodation or a tour, booked together. You should have been advised at the time you booked your trip if it was a package and issued with an ATOL certificate so if in doubt, check your paperwork.

 

**Please note that I am a travel journalist, not a lawyer, so the above is for general advice only. If you require legal advice making a claim, you should consult a solicitor or contact Citizens Advice.

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Blog Comments

The travel company said my money was returned on the 18th April to the same account it was paid with (by debit card) money has NOT gone in, nor is it waiting to clear, my partner emailed Tui, no reply as yet. What can we do?

Hi Yvonne

It might just be taking a little longer than expected; if TUI said it has been refunded I’m pretty sure that will be the case, but if you don’t receive it within seven days and if you still can’t get hold of TUI then you could raise a dispute with your debit card issuer and they could look into this for you.

I hope that helps.

Nice article,
Had a package booked through Travel Republic(flight, accom & transfers) for the 22nd March, eventually received there email saying it was cancelled and I used there website to request a refund (no telephone or email support as they have turned that off). Despite dozens of website or twitter messages to ask for a update on the status of my refund request no joy, only a standard reply saying “we are busy someone from our team will be in touch”. My credit card provider Halifax today issued me a temporary refund via the chargeback scheme, but I believe Travel republic have 40 days to contest it. so fingers crossed they don’t!

Great that you managed to get a chargeback refund, it should stick as the PTRs are clear that you were due your money back within 14 days

Hi, keeping safe i hope, I should gone away 6th April but got cancelled I booked it through Love Holidays for my accommodation and Ryanair for my flights. I have not received anything back but I’ve put a claim in with both parties, what can I do next please? Steve 👍

Hi Stephen, if Ryanair cancelled your flight and Love Holidays cancelled your accommodation you should receive a refund from both. Refunds are taking a long time to process, but if you feel you’ve waited long enough and you paid by debit or credit card you could ask your bank to process the refunds instead.

I booked my holiday myself i could not go when FCO said don’t go to Spain iam getting my flights refunded from airline but my credit card company says they can’t refund my hotel because i didn’t cancel it is this right

Hi James,

If Spain was in lockdown when you were due to travel the hotel should have cancelled your booking and provided a refund as they would have been closed anyway; if it wasn’t you should have cancelled your booking and requested a refund (if that was an option). If the hotel won’t refund your money, have you checked your travel insurance for cover?

We bought a cruise and accommodation package holiday through Cruise Nation. We flew out to our cruise starting point on 11th March ready to start our cruise on the 14th. Unfortunately on the 13th March, we were notified our cruise was cancelled. We were flown home (eventually!). Obviously we missed out on our 14 night cruise plus the 6 nights accommodation afterwards, and essentially, we only got 2 nights of our 25 night holiday before everything went pear shaped.

Cruise Nation have essentially ignored all correspondence since we have got home, other than replying to one email (out of numerous sent) saying they have applied for a refund for our cruise, but for everything else we need to go through travel insurance. Travel insurance have refused our claim saying it is a package holiday and they are legally obliged to refund.

I put in a dispute with Barclaycard on the 1st April, but they’re a nightmare to get hold of, can only use their secure messaging system and get very generic responses back. They have said the dispute is being looked into and the transaction has been suspended until 5th June (but it hasn’t been credited back to my account).

It’s now over 10 weeks since our holiday was cancelled, and we’re not further forward. Meanwhile, we paid £4000 for a holiday we didn’t get, and I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with trying to secure a refund. I would love any help or advice with trying to move this forward.

Thank you for advice online. I booked with love holidays (flights and hotel). Holiday cancelled by TUI 29 April. RCN provided a week later. I asked for cash refund via Love Holidays live chat(not very live 8 days to respond) this was confirmed however I need to get cash refund from TUI for flights not the case however as LoveHolidays had paid for flights. TUI confirmed refunded had gone thru but have been unable to get hold of Love Holidays. Spoke to Lloyds bank dispute team today and chargeback granted. £1400 reimbursed immediately. Great work from Lloyds Bank. TUI helpful but Love Holidays appalling.

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Olive Norrismokkaturbo

Paid £79.to UKBreakaways for weekend in Keswick in Feb.for holiday in April. Company in Administration paid by Debit Card how do I go about Chargeback? Any advice would be helpful. THANK YOU. OLIVE.

Hi Olive, if your holiday with UK Breakaways included coach travel it would be classed as a package and you should be able to claim a refund here http://www.bch-uk.org/, otherwise you could ask your bank to process a chargeback – the number to call should be on the back of your debit card.

Hi, we booked a holiday accommodation with Olivers Travels who will not give a refund. We cannot make the dates that OT have offered in 2021. We have travel insurance with our bank plus I paid with a credit card. Which is the best way forward with trying to get our money back ?

I think the fastest route would be to claim a refund from your credit card issuer under Section 75 of the credit card act, assuming that you booked a flight-inclusive package from a UK-based company and that the holiday cost between £100.01 and £30,000. You could claim on your travel insurance but it is more than likely your insurer will tell you that Olivers Travel is responsible for issuing the refund, so I’d try your card issuer (probably your bank) first. You should find the number to call on the back of your credit card

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