It only takes a few seconds for the average credit card transaction to process. If you’re paying by cash, the money changes hands even faster. But getting money back? Ah, that’s another matter. In my Mint.com column this week, I’ll show you how to get a quicker refund.

Before I get to the rest of today’s newsletter, I need to ask you a big favor: If you’ve bought a copy of Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals, and you liked the book, please tell a friend about it. Your word-of-mouth recommendation will make Scammed a success and help others become more informed consumers. Also, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon, which helps other readers know this is a book worth buying.

I also wanted to mention one of our long-time underwriters, the Travel Hacking Cartel. Not only do my friends at the Cartel care about promoting great customer service, but their product comes with what they call the “world’s greatest guarantee” — that you’ll earn at least four free plane tickets for every year you remain a member. I hope you’ll stop by the site and consider becoming a member.

Plus …

• No one likes to start the New Year on the wrong foot, especially if it means you’ll be treated a little bit less special by your preferred airline. But that’s exactly what Matin Nazir is facing. Can his elite status on United Airlines be saved?

• Which airline passengers annoy you the most? You’ll want to take the poll and join an interesting discussion about air travelers and their annoying habits.

• Over at On Your Side, contributor Josh Floyd asks if those free credit report offers are a scam. By the way, if you’re interested in blogging about consumer issues, please let me know. I’d love to add you to our list of contributors.

And finally, I want to thank two readers this week for doing something extraordinary. Peter Kopack and Nancy Lewis signed up to become supporters of this site on Jan. 1, making them the first underwriters of 2012. Peter and Nancy, thank you for being a part of this site and for keeping the lights on here. You’re making a big difference! (By the way, here’s how you can become an underwriter, too.)

(Photo: Kerjsi/Flickr)