May 2, 2008
Tip and Trick Editorial

Get Free $25 or More Money Refund (No Hack Required) from Credit Card Foreign Currency Conversion Fee Settlement

Well, ok, it’s not free actually. That’s the money that you have paid to the oligopolies in credit cards industry. But if you had traveled overseas to international destinations and used your credit card, or have made any foreign transaction (either purchase, cash advance, cash withdrawal, online Internet transaction and any other transactions including non-US ATMs and foreign merchants in U.S) in a foreign currency (or US dollar with additional amount charged for foreign merchant) on a United State-issued Visa-, MasterCard- or Diners Club-branded credit, charge, debit or ATM card at any time from February 1, 1996 to November 8, 2006, then you can claim some refund of money that you had paid without knowing from your issuing banks and credit card payment processors.

The refund claim is part of class action lawsuit that leads to Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409) settlement. The lawsuit alleged that cardholders of Visa-, MasterCard-, or Diners Club-branded payment cards were charged inflated price to make transactions in a foreign currency, or with a foreign merchant, between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006. During the period, credit card companies conspired to set and conceal fees, typically of 1-3% of foreign transactions, and inflated their base exchange rates before applying these fees.

A settlement has been reached on the lawsuit regarding these unlawfully charged foreign currency conversion fee, with credit card companies tentatively agree to pay $336 millions to settle claims and pay attorney fees. So if you’re one of the affected and a member of the Settlement Damages Class (only US issued credit card and primary card holder is eligible beside actually spent some money in foreign currency or foreign merchant in US with undisclosed fee), do claim your free money, which starts from $25 minimum. The claim submission has opened since late 2007, and deadline to file such claim is on May 31st, 2008.

There are 3 refund options:

Refund Option 1 – Request an Easy Refund of $25. This Option is recommended if you traveled outside of the U.S. for less than one week or had foreign transactions of less than $2,500 using your eligible cards during the 1996 to 2006 period. (Green Form)

Refund Option 2 – Request a Total Estimation Refund based on typical spending during travel and your answers to a few questions about your own travel outside of the U.S. This Option is recommended if you traveled outside of the U.S. for more than one week or had foreign transactions of more than $2,500 using your eligible cards during the 1996 to 2006 period. Refunds will be a maximum of 1% of estimated foreign transactions. (Blue Form)

Refund Option 3 – Request a refund based on information that you provide concerning your Annual Estimated foreign transactions during the 1996 to 2006 period. This Option is recommended if you had extensive foreign travel or foreign transactions and are willing to provide year-by-year information. Refunds will be a maximum of 1% to 3% of foreign transactions. This is the only Option you can use to get a refund for corporate card use. (Red Form)

Most people who actually did travel internationally for business or leisure will probably went more than one week and spent more than $2,500 for the long whole ten years period set in the settlement. If you choose Option 1, then it’s definitely a free and fast easy money of 25 bucks, although it’s a tiny amount in today’s standard. It’s unclear if Option 2 requires any documentations or records audit, but you have to submit an estimate of how much time you spent overseas and whether it’s business or vacation travel. If success, the claim amount will be 1% of the estimated costs of this travel, as determined by the settlement administrator. Option 2 is a good choice as if you’re eligible, as you will likely still receive the minimum $25 dollar free money. But Option 3 will have higher chance of been audited and required to provide transaction records and documentation.

More information on and read the FAQs.

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