Credit Cards

Overseas Travelers: Does the Credit Card Industry Owe you Money?

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Michael is going to get a check for about $90 related to credit card purchases he made between Feb 1996 to Nov 2006 while traveling overseas. I am due to get $25. How much will you get?

If you traveled outside the US  between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006 and used a Visa, MasterCard or Diner’s Club credit, charge or debit/ATM card, you are eligible to participate in the Currency Conversion Fee (CCF) class action settlement.

The lawsuit is about the price cardholders of Visa, MasterCard, or Diners Club cards were charged to make transactions in a foreign currency, or with a foreign merchant, between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006. Among other things, cardholders alleged that the credit card companies and their member banks conspired to conceal “currency conversion fees” — typically of 1-3% of foreign transactions  — and that Visa and MasterCard inflated their base exchange rates before applying these fees.

Michael and I first corresponded about this lawsuit more than two years ago, when it looked like the settlement had been finalized. But more
legal wrangling led to a long postponement of the final deal. In the meantime, Michael saved his credit card statements from that time period, showing how much he spent on his cards during his foreign travels. With overseas charges totaling $4900, he’s eligible for the bigger refund.

I know I have my credit card statements from that time period somewhere in a box, but since my overseas travel wasn’t nearly as
extensive (and my spending more limited), I am going for the easy refund, which is a flat $25.

Michael and I both received our notices by mail. But if you don’t receive one, and you think you should be eligible, you can check out the settlement details and filing instructions online at www.ccfsettlement.com.

Oh, and one more caveat — the notice says “if the volume of claims is unexpectedly high, it may be necessary to adjust refund amounts.” The settlement website warns that getting paid “could take several months, or, if appeals are filed, several years.”

Guess we better not spend that money yet Michael!

Disclaimer: The Defendants include Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Bank of America, Bank One/First USA, Chase, Citibank, MBNA, HSBC/Household, and Washington Mutual/Providian. They deny the Plaintiffs’ claims and say they have done nothing wrong,
improper, or unlawful.

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