Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409) Settlement

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Did you know that there was an anti-trust case brought against the major credit card issuers regarding foreign transaction fees? For those who aren’t aware of foreign transaction fees, these are fees that some card issues add onto a credit card charge made in a foreign currency. This fee can range anywhere from 1-3%, though some issuers will absorb the fees. These fees are not the cost of converting the currency, which is likely absorbed in the exchange rate used by the credit card company. Well, today these foreign transaction fees are often broken out and detailed on the credit card bill itself (sometimes as a mere asterisk indicating a x% fee was levied for this foreign transaction, sometimes an actual dollar amount) but this wasn’t always the case. In the past, card issuers wouldn’t even mention a transaction fee was levied and buyers would merely see a poor exchange rate.

But the fee itself wasn’t the problem, plaintiffs claimed that the Visa and MasterCard networks, their member banks, and Diners Club conspired to set the fees and conceal them from the public by inflating their exchange rates (essentially hiding the fee in the rate). Which cards are included?

Visa- and MasterCard-branded credit cards (including charge cards) and debit/ATM cards (including stored value and payroll cards), and Diners Club-branded credit cards (including charge cards). The Visa-branded cards include Visa-, Interlink-, and Plus-branded credit and debit/ATM cards; the MasterCard-branded cards include MasterCard-, Cirrus-, and Maestro-branded credit and debit/ATM cards. The lawsuit includes purchases, cash advances, cash withdrawals, and internet transactions.

So, the defendants have now elected to settle and set aside $336M to pay for it all. If you wish to participate in the settlement, what you’ll need to do is choose one of three options. The option you choose will depend on your level of international travel and how much you’ve spent in the years between 1996 and 2006.

  1. 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); OR
  2. 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); OR
  3. 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)

I think I’ll probably do Option 1 or perhaps Option 2, since I’ve traveled internationally quite a bit to visit family in Taiwan and on vacations abroad. I have yet to review the claim form to see the level of rigor involved but it seems relatively straightforward.

The deadline to file this has been extended to May 30, 2008.

(Thanks Tim!)

{ 82 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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82 Responses to “Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation (MDL 1409) Settlement”

  1. Missy says:

    Got my check today. Anyone had problems cashing it? I didn’t even remember filling anything out it had been so long!!

  2. fishydude says:

    I never signed onto this case, never heard of it. But a check came today. I am highly suspicious. Not even $20. As with all class action suits, only the lawyers get a check worth cashing. I’m shredding the check. Not worth the risk that is just a phishing expedition.

  3. Sporto says:

    Deposited Check, for $18.04
    so far it cleared… No Police Report to date.

  4. Eng_Dav says:

    My check was also for $18.04. Gonna talk to my bank about what info is carried with cashed check before I cash it. Smells like a scam.

  5. supert10s says:

    Same here, I have travelled abroad but have never heard about the case or signed on anything. Im also afraid that this is some sort of scam. Would be interested to hear everyones opinion and experiance!

  6. Ladd Morse says:

    I too have just received a check for $18.04. Research seems to indicate this is legit.

  7. DJE says:

    I too received a check in the amount of $18.04 and have no recollection of signing any forms for this suit. Seems rather interesting that all respondents reference the same dollar amount and have no memory of signing up for this suit.

  8. GRE says:

    It was supposed to be a minimum of $25 but there were so many people that applied for it that it came down to the $18.04. Of course, the lawyers made millions. This goes back to 2007 so no wonder people do not remember it. I had applied for the higher option as my husband and I did extensive travel in Europe for years 1996, 1997, 2000. I have not gotten my check yet.

  9. PJE says:

    I do remember getting information regarding this a while back and also received my check for $18.04 (due to the large volume of claimants). It appears totally legit:

  10. PJE says:

    Oh, and as a PS to my above comment, if my memory serves me correctly, it wasn’t necessary to sign anything – it was automatic.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I too got my 18.00 check in the mail and i remember it, however i received a 2,500.00 by ups in an cardboard evelope, it had a phone number on it, i called and it was a contractor he said, and all he does is make out these checks for this company, and he tried hard to get me to deposit it in my account and get a money order for 2,000.00 and i could keep the 500,00….please baby i did not fall off a turnup truck yesterday, also had a nother check mailed to me that i too to the bank and they said it was a frad for a loan…watch out people, desperate people do desperate things….good luck

  12. vicki says:

    I, too, have my $18.04 check and called Huntington Bank. Customer Service Rep was familiar with the case and settlement and said checks were safe to cash.

  13. DJE says:

    I contacted the bank that the check is drawn on to confirm that this was a legit payment and not a scam. They did confirm that it was legit and ok to process.

  14. Angela says:

    I, too, received a check for $19.04. My husband has often traveled to Canada but do not really understand what qualified us for this check. Still unsure if it is safe to cash.

  15. Mary says:

    I received a check for $18.84 , I also do not remember filling out any forms for this. When I travelled out of the country my last name was different than it is now, so I was curious. After researching the website, I will go ahead and cash this check. Maybe go buy some postage stamps before the cost goes up.

  16. David says:

    I also got a check for $18.04. The only problem I can envision is that by cashing the check, you “somehow” give up any rights to additional money, a lawyer-like maneuver. I vaugely recall the initial postal contact some time back. Does anyone else recall it?

  17. Ted Weaver says:

    I got an $18.04 check today even though I’ve never had a credit card in my life. It’s going in the garbage.

  18. Ruth says:

    I too received a check for $18.04 today. I faintly remember a notice in the mail months ago about atm fees overseas and, litigation. I don’t think I am going to cash it yet. It’s good for 120 days.

  19. dalady says:

    i have a check of 18.04 on friday the 13th ist bad luck or a joke?

  20. hedda lettuce says:

    It is real, folks. Can you not tell the real deal from a scam? I deposited mine yesterday. Yay!

  21. Bob says:

    I got a check in the mail on 1/12 for $18.04 but my bank would not accept the deposit via the ATM. I am not sure if this is a scam. I will not attempt to deposit the check again. Never heard of this class action.

  22. Viking22 says:

    I received a check for $18.04. Being suspicious, I called Huntington Bank. The live person I spoke to said the check is valid.

    • Ben says:

      hi, viking22
      i, also received this check. i tried to call tje bamnk it was drawn on, but all i got was a bussy signal. if you know the bank number could you past it in this wes site.


  23. Katie says:

    I got my check today for $48.05. Only difference is, I DID fill out the forms! I lived in England for two years during that time and used my (US) credit card occasionally. I was a poor student then and every cent mattered. Now, things aren’t so dire for me. But I’m still going to enjoy the $48.05!

  24. Marc says:

    I had submitted a claim as well but have moved in the mean time (years ago). Does anyone know who to notify for an address change to get the check sent to the right place?


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