For the last ten years or so, credit card companies have been charging transaction fees on foreign currency purchases, but most cardholders never knew. The fees were hidden in your conversion rate, and you were probably none the wiser.
Were you like me? I traveled abroad and used my credit card for everything. I was told this was the way to get the best currency conversion rate. Except when I got home and looked at my bill, the conversion rate didn't look so hot. And this is the reason why.... the credit cards were charging me fees but hiding them in the conversion rate.
A class action suit was brought, and now we all have a chance to get some of this money back via the $336 million settlement. If you traveled abroad between 1996 and 2006 and used a Visa or Mastercard, you can get at least $25 back. You might get more if you have the right documentation.
You can do the easy refund of $25 if you had foreign transactions of less than $2,500. If you had more than that, you can get up to 1% of your estimated foreign transactions refunded to you if you answer a few questions and provide information on one of the credit cards you use. You might be able to get up to 3% of your transactions refunded if you had extensive foreign travel and you're willing to provide information about your annual travels.
All the instructions are found here, and it seems worth a few minutes to get the $25. The higher refund options might also be worth your time, depending upon how much you spent abroad.
Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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