Easy Hack for Getting a Refund from your Credit Card

If you've traveled internationally, your credit card company likely owes you money! And the deadline for filing your paperwork is just around the corner: May 30th! Here's our fun hack for getting the most out of your refund without tedious paperwork.

For years, the credit card companies have been double dipping -- they charged a 1-3% transaction fee on foreign transactions and inflated their base exchange rates before applying these fees. A recent class action settlement means we can all get a little bit back.

To quality, you need to have used your credit card in a foreign country between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006. To submit your refund, just go to ccfsettlement.com, where you'll find three options for claimants:

  1. an easy $25 refund
  2. a refund based on your estimate of the total number of days you spent outside the country
  3. a refund based on detailed information about your annual travel expenses

I expect that many of my readers fall into the same situation as me: I traveled enough that the $25 refund seems low, but I don't keep the kind of detailed records required for option 3 (nor do I want to request and inspect 10 years worth of credit card statements). Option 2 seemed like my best bet, but remembering and listing each of the trips I've taken between 1996 and 2006 seemed difficult and error prone. Then my husband hit on a great solution...flip thru our photos!

We started with our digital pictures since digital cameras automatically record the date & time with each photo. Both Windows and Macs have easy ways to show these dates, and it gets even easier if you use a program like Google's Picasa or Apple's iPhoto. After that, we pulled our photo albums off the bookshelf and quickly flipped thru them to get a rough sense of how many days we'd been traveling. Suddenly, what seemed like tedious paperwork became a welcome trip down memory lane, and it felt like we completed it in no time!

By the way, we were shocked and impressed by how many days we spent out of the country during that period: 385 days. It definitely helped that we did a 6-month trip around-the-world during that time. ;-)

Update: Several clever readers at consumerist have pointed out that passports are a great way to do this too. That's very true. There are a couple reasons why our photos worked better for us: (1) living in Seattle, we drive to Vancouver, Canada a lot, and immigration rarely stamps passport at this crossing, so these trips abroad aren't reflected in our passports; (2) we have so many stamps in our passport that it's tough to match up entry and exit stamps to get trip dates, whereas iPhoto and Picasa make this easy; (3) many of the stamps are tough to read, so we couldn't read the dates. Nevertheless, a passport is a great way to do this for some travelers.

Related Links:
Official Currency Conversion Fee Antitrust Litigation Site
Claim Form (can also be submitted online)
DeliciousBaby: Easy Ways To Track Travel Expenses and Stick To Your Budget

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