Returning something you bought on a credit card you subsequently canceled can complicate the refund process. If the card has been canceled in favor of a different card from the same issuer -- for example, if you've had to request a different card number because your old one was used fraudulently -- the refund should go through without a hitch. Otherwise, the card issuer might not accept the return transaction, since the account is no longer active.
If the refund comes through soon after you cancel a credit card account, the issuer may accept the refund and either apply it to any outstanding balance or place it as a credit on your account. Should you have a credit balance -- meaning the issuer owes you money instead of the other way around -- you can request a refund. Some credit card issuers accept a phone request, while others require you to put it in writing. Once the request is received, the issuer must refund your money within seven business days.
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A refund presented against a card that's been closed may be rejected by the issuing bank, particularly if it's been closed for more than a few weeks. In that scenario, the easiest way to handle a refund is to ask the merchant for a refund in a different format. The merchant might agree to refund the amount on a different credit card or give you the amount in cash or store credit.