Reclaim Unnecessary Credit Cards' Unnecessary Foreign Transaction Fees

Several major credit card companies were successfully and recently class-actioned for charging unnecessary fees for overseas transactions.

If from Feb 1, 1996 to Nov 8, 2006, you used a Visa or MasterCard credit card or debit card for a foreign transaction, you might be able to get some or all of the related fees refunded if you file a claim here by Jan 9, 2008.

The companies still get to charge the fees, just now they have to disclose them. Somewhere. — BEN POPKEN

(Thanks to Ken! Photo: Sam Wilkinson)

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  1. Nickelking says:

    I know I’m not registered, but I figured I’d send along a few corroborating links that you could put up, since this seemed a bit fishy to me.

    An About.com link from 9/05 naming Berger & Montague as the firm handling the case.
    http://goeurope.about.com/b/a/199926.htm

    The Berger & Montague site page that mentions the suit and provides a link to ccfsettlement.com
    http://www.bergermontague.com/newsitem.cfm?id=55


    Just thought that might help 5¢

  2. Watcher95 says:

    This is GREAT news for US military members overseas, I have been stationed in Europe nearly 6 years and this will add up to several hundred dollars at first glance, thanks!

  3. Amy Alkon says:

    The problem is, you have to go through years of taxes to get the money. (To figure out what the figure is.)

  4. Amy Alkon says:

    (By “taxes,” I mean, your saved up receipts, bills, etc.)

  5. medalian1 says:

    I filed my claim 3 weeks ago. Hope I don’t have to prove anything, cause it’ll be a bitch to go back and find all those records.

  6. landsnark says:

    Does anyone know what fraction of the fees will be refunded? I tried wading through the actual settlement terms:
    http://www.ccfsettlement.com/documents/mdl_1409_settlement
    but it was tearing the soul from my body.

    Can anyone who submitted a claim and got money back answer this question?

  7. virgilstar says:

    Any website that I’ve never heard of, that’s asking for full names and addresses and credit card #s, isn’t getting within 10 feet of my wallet!

  8. 5cents says:

    Agreed, at first I was just going to enter all the required info, but account numbers is a little too far me thinks.

  9. gorckat says:

    The banks should be able to pull that up in seconds per each account- all the data they know every penny of every sort they’ve ever billed.

    And weren’t these fees disclosed in the T&C? Or was it just some banks that disclosed the fees? I know MBNA did- we had a clunky thing to read on the phone if overseas charging was ever asked about.

  10. AnotherSmurf says:

    The claim form has no privacy statement, no link to one, no mention of who gets to see the data you submit or what they can do with it in the FAQ… Maybe everything you enter will be sold to all marketers who express an interest. Or maybe not. For the chance of maybe getting back some or all of a few dollars I wrote off years ago, doesn’t seem worth the risk.

  11. @virgilstar: You should get the same form by mail from your CC company, or a slip with information about it and how to access their online site.

    @gorckat: I confess I’m slightly puzzled as well. My card falls under this, but I was always aware they charged foreign transaction fees. It wasn’t a surprise. (I was moderately irate when they raised them, but it was disclosed.)

  12. lalawgirl says:

    Don’t even get me started on this. I was just about to write to Ben to see if he could help. I took two long trips overseas in 1999 and 2000, spending thousands overseas. Of course, I don’t have my statements or receipts for those years. And my Credit Card company — Chase — well, at the time I think it was First USA then Bank One — is refusing to give me my statements for those years, even though the class action notice says I am entitled to them. They claim they only keep the records for 6 years.

    Any ideas?

  13. landsnark says:

    @lalawgirl:

    “Any ideas”

    According to the settlement terms, you can estimate fees if you cannot get the exact amounts:
    http://www.ccfsettlement.com/faqs/#idQ1

    I agree, though – these companies know exactly how much they charged us, and they could easily fork over this information.

  14. lalawgirl says:

    @landsnark:

    Thanks! I should have read those FAQs more carefully. At least now I know my cheesy scrapbooks from those college trips will come in handy!

    “You should calculate these estimates based on reasonable daily or monthly spending, documented, where possible, by a travel journal or some other proof of your travel or your living arrangements outside of the United States.”

  15. RandomHookup says:

    It’s seems like every week there’s another big class action. I think I am in 2 right now and this will be the third active one. I cashed out of several over the last few years, though I didn’t care for the Northwest Airlines ‘voucher’ b.s. from years ago.

    Probably has a better payout than the lottery.

  16. dgandy says:

    I’m heading to Europe May 15th with the girlfriend. Do y’all have any tips on not getting burned by the transaction fee monster? Should we bring travelers checks, ATM cards, etc? What’s the best strategy?

  17. saram says:

    @dgandy

    I work for a financial institution, and have helped many people traveling overseas. I recommend taking your ATM/debit card to pull out cash in large quantities as infrequently as possible. Before you go, contact your bank to find out what your daily withdrawal limit is, and notify them that you will be traveling so they don’t do a fraud block. There are typically per-use charges as well as percentages charged, and you’ll get dinged less for taking out currency in large amounts less frequently. Also, I definitely recommend taking more than one card there, in case your bank does block one of them in error. Have fun!

  18. ericstoltz says:

    By all means, plan on using your ATM card overseas. But make sure you have at least some cash with you just in case.

    Last spring I went to Istanbul and could not get any cash out of any ATM. I called Wells Fargo from the hotel, and they said I could not use ATMs in Turkey. No explanation. After borrowing money from fellow travelers with teh promise to repay it as soon as we arrived in Tel Aviv a few days later, imagine my surprise when I could not get money from the ATMs in Israel. Again I called Wells Fargo. Oh, you cannot use your debit cardin Israel. After a few questions, they read me a list of all the countries I could not use my debit card in — pretty much everywhere.

    Why? Because that was one of the times there was a massive breach of debit card data, so they just shut down their entire overseas network without telling anyone.

    As this sort of breach is happening mroe frequently, be sure you at least have a couple hundred bucks cash on you for incidentals until you can get to a bank to withdraw cash from a teller.

  19. dovwas says:

    I don’t know for sure if this refund is legitimate either, but both the form I was mailed and the online version required only my name and address, which they obviously already had, and the refund ID they mailed to me for the online form.

    If it had required any other sensitive information like credit card #, I would have dug more before biting, but I can’t see how I can be hurt by replying with the same info, other than confirming to spammers that my name/address combo is a real person. So I just submitted my claim for $25. I’ll report back if/when I hear from them.

  20. rteggleston says:

    Who-hoo! $25. Did you read the fine print of what the lawyers get? 27% of the $313 million (i.e. $84.5 milion) expected to remain in the settlement fund after costs, PLUS $5 million maximum in expenses. You think this is about you? You’re nuts. It’s about the lawyers making millions while “citizens” believe a wrong is righted. Justice would have been better served if nothing had been done. And unless you’re going to stop using credit cards, you are totaly niave to think that you won’t pay for all of it in the long run.

  21. Hannibal82 says:

    First of all i just opened this thing out of the mailbox and knew it was fraud. 3 Main reason

    1) No Official Seal of any kind on any document
    2)The Document itself is plain Envelope no security seal, not only that when I opened itit was as though somone sloppily licked this thing.
    3)Why would they give you an easy refund option? $25? Are you kidding me? do i look stupid?

    oh and one more reason this is a fraud. Everybody is getting them right around Christmas, knowing people are worried about credit card bills and so on.

    If you send your info to these people I can guarantee your Christmas is going to suck this year.

  22. dandel says:

    According to Snopes, it’s true.

    [www.snopes.com]

    The bad news is it could take a while…

    From the FAQ on ccfsettlement.com:
    Refunds will be paid after the Court finally approves the settlement, and approves any award of attorneys’ fees, awards to the class representatives, and allocation of the settlement fund among Settlement Damages Class members, and any appeals related to that approval are resolved. It is possible that this could take several months, or, if appeals are filed, several years.