A bit on NPR just reminded me of a bit of paperwork that I have to complete. Well, me and maybe 30 million other people. As you may already know, there is a proposed settlement for a pending class action suit involving anyone who made a foreign purchase with a credit card between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006. Assuming that the proposed settlement is approved by the court, class members will received a refund of part of the foreign transaction fee that was charged any time they used a US credit card outside of the US.
I received my first notice about this some time ago. However, I didn’t think I’d end up taking advantage of it, as you not only had to know when you traveled, but you had to have your actual credit card records substantiating each transaction. I don’t know about you, but I don’t keep my credit cards records for 10+ years. I know what I did last year. 1997? Not so clear.
However, the most recent settlement draft seems to have simplified things greatly. Roughly, you can:
- take a straight $25 settlement if you traveled outside the US at least once in this period (and simply swear to that fact);
- get a somewhat larger settlement based on a declaration of how many total days you spent outside the US during that period (the settlement will be based on an estimated average figured out by the credit card companies and class action representatives); or
- provide a substantiated record of how much money you actually spent outside of the US during that period, and receive a refund of the fees actually charged.
I suspect I’d probably end up with a larger settlement if I could substantiate all of my spending, but that would involve such a ridiculous amount of time and effort that I’m going to opt for option 2 (which, for the most part, is simply a matter of going through my passports and deciphering the visa stamps). I encourage fellow travelers to take the time to participate in this settlement. It was conventional wisdom (encouraged by the credit card companies) that you received the best exchange rate by using your credit card overseas. While that may be technically true, their tacking on of unpublicized fees certainly made that a moot point. Make sure they have to pay for that deception.
More info at the official settlement site (tho’ really, doesn’t that look like a scam site? It’s not.) Court approval of the settlement could come, at the earliest, on March 31st. Checks go out after approval.
Also, this is not legal advice, I am not your lawyer, etc.