Thursday, December 06, 2007

International Credit Card Fee Refund

I got a weird piece of mail the other day. It sort of looked like it might be junk mail, but I figured that something claiming to be from the US District Court Settlement Administrator was worth opening. It turns out that I am eligible to receive a refund of fees charged by my credit card on international purchases, as part of a class-action suit.
There are a couple different ways to claim the refund-- you can ask for an "Easy Refund" of $25, which is recommended if you traveled outside the US for less than one week or had foreign transactions of less than $2,500 using eligible credit cards. At first I thought I might choose this option but then I saw that the dates covered are from Feb. 1, 1996 to November 8, 2006. I was definitely out of the country for more than a week during all those years!
The second option is to estimate the number of days you spent outside the US, and check off a few boxes about the purpose and frequency of your trips. I started counting back year by year and adding up the duration of all the international trips I'd made. This would have included at least 20 trips to Canada, about another 20 trips to Europe, 2 trips to New Zealand and one to Mexico. My final estimate was that I must have spent about 222 days abroad! I'll be making a claim using this option, whereby the settlement administrator will estimate how much money I deserve.
Option 3 is to actually provide account numbers and total spending broken out year by year. My records aren't detailed enough before 2003 for me to want to bother with this. If you're making a claim for corporate card expenses, you have to use this option.
If you used your credit card on any international trips in the last few years, watch your mail for info about this, or go to www.ccfsettlement.com to find out more. I have no idea how much money I'll get back or when I'll get it, but I'll report back whenever it happens!

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

Heck yeah. I lived for 7 months in South Africa in 2006. I hope that will provide me a nice chunk of change...

James said...

I just got this in the mail as well, and I came to the same conclusion (option 2 is best/easiest). I was only out of the country for 60 days, but that should still be a nice little bonus :)

As a side note - do you know if people can still join? I was included in this, but my wife was not.

Madame X said...

James-- I'm not sure whether people can get in on the settlement if they haven't already been contacted, I didn't see anything on the website though I have to admit I didn't search all that thoroughly!

Sick of Debt said...

I received one too, I was only out of the country for a week, so I went with the $25 option. With all the fine print, it may be many years until a settlement payment is sent out and it may be reduced based upon the response they receive.

Amy said...

I got this, too! I was about to complete the first option until I realized what you did - that I had been out of the country way more than 1 week in 10 years! I love random mail offering money like this.

BankerGirl said...

I got this too! Actually, I got three of them addressed to me - I thought it was junk mail. I think I'm going the easy way as well.

frugal zeitgeist said...

Yup, got one too. I'm going to go with option 2. My SO is a road warrior for much of the year, so as long as management agrees, he might go with option 3.

Leslie said...

I got this too - glad to know I'm not the only one. Sadly, I've only been out of the country for about 9 days total, and I know I spent much less than $2500, so the $25 Option was the easiest for me. The fine print says that since this is a a settlement, the money may take months or even years to get to us. I was going to write down my confirmation code, but then I figured - eh, if one day I get $25 in the mail, cool, if not, oh well.

Anonymous said...

I recieved something like that and wondered about it myself: is it real, legtimate. Well, I traveled to Rome, London, and Dublin last year - even bought a ditgal camera, in EUROs =(. I'll claim it, if it's real. Is it?

Anonymous said...

I picked option 1, but if I read the fine print correctly, the settlement is around $330MM, and actual payout will depend on how many people actually file claim.

Miss Noodle said...

I've been abroad for long periods too, so I'll keep an eye out. Thanks for the heads-up!

Anonymous said...

Anyone know if this is, or will be, relevant to Canadians?

Frugal Bachelor said...

Frugal Bachelor received mailing too, he figures he spent several hundred days abroad and spent tens of thousands of dollars with credit cards, but didn't want to read through all that paper work or dig up old records, so he already signed up for the Easy Refund. Too bad he didn't see this post first.

Anonymous said...

"created"? to find out where peeps travel.. when.. where and how to- "fight the war on terror"?

3beansalad said...

I got this, too. Glad to hear it's not a hoax. I was out of the country for ~90 days, but I dealt largely in cash, so I guess I'll just claim the $25.

Jon said...

Looking at the FAQ on the website, it seems that anybody who made a foreign transaction on a Visa, Mastercard, or Diner's Club card from February 1, 1996 to November 8, 2006, are eligible for the payout. It's not necessary to receive the email.

Anonymous said...

Bummer ... I tossed it thinking someone was just phishing for personal information. I could have at least been worth $25 without any effort. On the other hand, I don't recall being to upset with the privilege of using credit cards while traveling, and actually I'm kind of upset with the leeches (lawyers) sucking from our society since all credit card users will pay for this in the long run.

Simone S. said...

I got one and I've not even been out of the country! I suspect it's a hoax.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I each got one of these and will probably go with Option 2, as well. We lived abroad for four months and have taken several overseas trips, so Option 1 would not cover all our charges. I wish we had kept all our receipts so we could try Option 3, though.

Simone, it doesn't seem to require an actual trip abroad; if you bought anything from a foreign website or other foreign seller, you're probably eligible.

Anonymous said...

I didn't get the notice, so thanks for this. I'm well over 150 days overseas between these dates.

Ilana said...

I got the notification today, and did some research. Seems to be a hoax:
http://www.ifallsdailyjournal.com/node/6011

Natural said...

I got the same form but i decided not to do the online part of it cause i don't know if it's real or not. i'm thinking what ilana is saying. will check out the link.

Madame X said...

I did some googling about this too and I don't think it is a scam. If you're nervous about it, just mail back the printed form you got. If it's like mine, it already contains your name and address. You don't have to provide any other personal information other than how many days you were out of the country. There is no small print that you're having to agree to by signing the paper.
If it is a scam, it is a very widespread and very stupid scam, as all those pamphlets they mailed out are costing someone a lot of money for absolutely no benefit.

fin_indie said...

Honestly, it's REALLY hard to tell. I just mailed the CPA firm who is supposedly behind the ccfsettlement site to get more info. What's really odd is that they host the court docs instead of pointing to court docs hosted on a government hosted site -- that would give at least some additional measure of authenticity to the whole thing. For now, I'd proceed with caution until it proves real.

for instance, ask yourself why a settlement approval hearing is scheduled for March if they're already asking for your information? See: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=109&STORY=/www/story/12-03-2007/0004715098&EDATE=

Btw, the benefit of mailing out a bunch of pamphlets would come once they started harvesting money off all of the card numbers they get back.

Sense to Dollars said...

it seems legit, people:

http://www.usatoday.com/money/industries/banking/2007-12-07-card-settlement-foreign_N.htm?csp=34

plus, it's in all the trade journals that this is happening, that this form is going out to us, that they settled...

They already had my name and address when they sent the form out; I didn't have to supply any additional information, beyond the number of days I was out of the country, for option #2. no credit card numbers were given out.

RacerX said...

A couple small print items to be aware of:

-One per person
-The $300M is all in, in other words the nearly $100M in legal fees will come out, leaving $200M
-Payout seems to be tied to total requesters for option 2/3

I will take my $25 though!

bop said...

i received this in the mail as well. i noticed fill option #2 (or was it #3?) asked for you to fill out your account number. that's when i decided something didn't seem right.

Heather said...

I've been living abroad since 2005 and traveled before that. Haven't received anything in the mail, but I figure it doesn't hurt ot fill it out just in case. Thanks for the heads up.

uzvards said...

Last year I received two mailings re. this settlement. The first one was just a small-sized notice, with a claim form and a few Q&A points. Another one (received it a few months after the former) was the one you were discussing, with three color-coded refund options.

Both documents provided postal addresses of two legal firms participating in this settlement, and the first of them was Coughlin Stoia et al, LLP (San Diego, CA). That same entity was named a little bit differently in the first mailing I received, Lerach Coughlin et al, LLP. Interesting, huh?!

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Anonymous said...

Wow- That was an underwhelming "settlement".

I lived overseas during the entire period (10 YEARS!!)and chose option 2 because I didn't have accurate records. I got a grand total of $170.

I think these types of cases are really to give the big companies immunity from real lawsuits- not that this payout doesn't hurt, but it's a trivial settlement for everyone but the lawyers and the representative class members that get extra money.

uzvards said...

Sweet, juicy justice! Today I got my check!! $8.23!!! Five years ago I chose the Easy Refund option, and here it is. Eight US Dollars and 23 cents. Totally worth the wait!