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For Americans sheltering at home, life, as they once knew it, is on hold.

Because of the global pandemic, weddings and graduations are postponed, while upcoming conferences, concerts, sporting events and vacations are all canceled.

That has left nearly 4 in 10 adults — or 59 million people —  with out-of-pocket costs, according to a new Bankrate.com survey.

Only about one-third of those polled have received or will receive a full refund, Bankrate found. Nearly one-quarter expect to get most of their money back, while another third will only recoup half of their cash or less.

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Given the circumstances, many airlines and hotels are relaxing cancellation policies and waiving fees.

However, the type of reimbursement can range from full refunds to travel vouchers for a future trip, depending on the airline, hotel or tour operator. 

It can be even more subjective when it comes to sporting or concert tickets. Ticketmaster recently faced a backlash after the company said that, in order to issue refunds, it needs to work with the event venues — but those venues are closed due to the coronavirus.

How to get your money back

If you want to get reimbursed, start by reaching out to the merchant directly, advised Ted Rossman, industry analyst for CreditCards.com. You may have more luck if you request a credit to be used down the road, rather than a refund now, he said.

Otherwise, your credit card may offer benefits, as well, such as cancellation protections.

“That’s a perfect example of when your credit card company can help you out,” Rossman said.

That’s a perfect example of when your credit card company can help you out.

Ted Rossman

industry analyst for CreditCards.com

You will improve your odds of a refund if you have a shelter-in-place order or other relevant documentation on hand, he said.

But be prepared to wait, he added. “The card companies are being flooded with these types of requests.”

Going forward, the majority of Americans are not making any new plans and among those with existing dates, roughly three-quarters are thinking about canceling, Bankrate also found. Bankrate polled more than 2,600 adults in April.

It could be a long time before Americans are ready to give up social distancing. When asked how quickly they will return to their normal activities once the government lifts restrictions and businesses reopen, the vast majority said they would still wait and see, according to a separate Gallup poll released Tuesday

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