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Reader success story: How a credit card enabled a $40,000 refund from a canceled cruise

Feb. 05, 2021
5 min read
Reader success story: How a credit card enabled a $40,000 refund from a canceled cruise
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Throughout the past year, the pandemic has created somewhat of a nightmare for travelers looking to get refunds from canceled trips. All parts of the travel industry have been affected, but cruisegoers have been particularly hit hard.

Although many cruise lines have been slow to process refunds, one of the more egregious offenders has been luxury line Crystal Cruises. In 2020, numerous TPG readers emailed us citing delays and overall lack of communication from the company.

Related: Cruisers cry foul as Crystal Cruises refunds fail to arrive

Well, there is at least one happy ending when it comes to the refund department — and it's all thanks to a successful dispute on The Platinum Card® from American Express. Today, we wanted to share TPG reader Sharon Heath's success story and how she received more than $40,000 back from a canceled Crystal cruise itinerary.

Crystal historically has boasted a strong reputation with its customers, known for its top-notch service, luxurious accommodations and unique itineraries around the world. Heath was no stranger to Crystal as she sailed in Australia with the cruise line in 2017.

"[It's] an excellent upscale cruise line with two gorgeous ocean cruise ships. We previously sailed on the Symphony. The Crystal Symphony is an impressive cruise ship that has well-laid-out and designed decks with excellent dining options and activity centers. We were most impressed with the high professional quality of their entertainment, lectures, and excursions," Heath told TPG.

After her 2017 trip, she recommended the cruise line to many of her friends. "Our previous Crystal Cruises experience was outstanding," Heath added.

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Sharon Heath and her husband, Steve, during their last Crystal trip in 2017. (Photo by Sharon Heath)

Related: When will cruises resume? A line-by-line guide

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Heath had plans to sail on the Crystal Symphony once again in 2021, this time on a 31-day itinerary from Singapore to Cape Town, South Africa.

"We were so looking forward to our February 2021 cruise [which was] a combination of two cruise legs that started in Singapore and ended in Cape Town. The first leg included ports in Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Seychelles and Mombasa, Kenya. The second leg included ports in Zanzibar, Mayotte, Maputo Mozambique, Richards Bay, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay, and Cape Town in South Africa."

As expected, Crystal canceled the journey due to the pandemic. Now it was time to secure a refund and Heath wasn't looking forward to the process after hearing from fellow Crystal passengers of their troubles getting their money back.

Related: TPG readers weigh in on which cards offer the best chargeback protection

After radio silence from Crystal Cruises, Heath went about contacting American Express to file a dispute on the charges to her Amex Platinum.

The total? More than $40,000 across two transactions: an initial $10,995.50 deposit from July 2019 and the remaining charge of $29,800.50 from May 2020.

(Screenshot courtesy of Crystal)

Related: How (and when) to dispute a credit card charge

Because Amex typically has a 120-day policy from the transaction date to file a chargeback, Heath initially received pushback from the Amex agent over the phone.

"Both payments were way past the allotted Amex deadline for filing disputes, but those types of deadlines make no sense for cruise payments that are required a significant number of days or months in advance of sailing. Initially, the customer service person was hesitant to file a dispute for my 2019 deposit, because this payment was made so very long ago. However, he did file both disputes – the deposit made in July 2019 and the final payment made in May 2020."

(Screenshot courtesy of Amex)

Much to Heath's relief, approximately two weeks after filing the dispute, she received an email from Amex informing her of a refund for the July 2019 deposit. Then, a week later, she received a second notification about a credit for the final payment from May 2020. Shortly thereafter, Heath received a notification from Crystal directly acknowledging the refund.

"It is a real shame that Crystal Cruises has ruined its excellent reputation by their very poor handling of cruise cancellations and requested refunds. We had a significant amount of money tied up on this once-in-a-lifetime month-long cruise so receiving these credits was a huge relief for us."

If you’d like to share your personal travel stories to be published on our site, we would love to hear them. Simply email your story to tips@thepointsguy.com and put "Reader Success Story" or "Reader Mistake Story" in the subject line.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023