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Credit CardsReclaim Your Unfair Credit Card Charges!

By James Shaw

Although the FSA has allowed the banks to put a hold on all claims for unfair bank charges - You are still entitled to reclaim unfair credit card charges. The consumer law states that any charges that credit card providers pass onto their customers must be proportional to the actual costs they incur. It simply is unfair to charge £35 just to send an automated letter when someone’s gone 1p over their limit? The Office of Fair Trading have been supporting reclainers cases, however they have stated that they would not investigate any charges of less than £12. So any charges you recieve above £12 are deemed ‘unfair?and can be reclaimed.

What Charges Can I Reclaim?

You can reclaim both fees for paying late or going beyond your credit limit and as it's over many years you may be able to get £100s or £1,000s back.

I Though Reclaiming Charges Was On Hold ?

There is a test case due for reclaiming bank charges at the moment, which the FSA has put a hold on those cases at the moment. Yet that's specifically about bank charges, not credit card charges.

How Easy Will I Get My Money Back?

Most cases are fairly simple and just involves writing a couple of letters, first you need to find out how many charges you've had and then to ask for your money back. We included some letter templates further down the the page to help.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Dont be put off:

Credit card providers don’t like to give you money back, and will more than likely try to put you off, they might even try to giving you the hold on bank charges as a reason to delay your claim. Don’t listen to them its only bank charges that are on hold not credit card charges.

2. Work out how much you can reclaim:

Next, go through your all old credit card statements and find all the charges you may be able to reclaim. Ignore any normal interest charges and account fees as these are not part of the issue, you must look out for any ‘penalty charges?such as late payments or ‘over your limit? charges. If you do not have your statements, don’t worry. You can make a request under the Data Protection Act asking your credit card provider to give you a list of charges going back six years. you can write write to your provider to ask for a list of all charges, detailing what the charge was for, the date and the amount, under the Data Protection Act.

Unfortunately card companies are legally allowed to charge for this info - the maximum amount they can charge is £10 - and card companies being card companies, they tend to charge the full amount. So to save time, enclose a cheque for a tenner in your letter.

The card company only has a maximum 40 days to respond. If you don’t hear anything back, follow up with a phone call and ?if still getting a wall of silence - then report it to the Information Commissioner for a breach of rules.

You can use this letter template to ask for credit card provider for a list of charges.

3. Getting a back up credit card:

Some credit card providers can get funny when people reclaim unfair charges and may possibly cancel your credit card after they make a payout. You might want to take out another credit card as a back up in case your card gets canceled and leaving you left in the lurch. You can check out our selection of credit cards with our comparisons tables

4. Asking for your money back:

Now you should write another letter to your credit card provider this time asking for your money back. It’s important that you set out the correct information in your letter, so feel free to use this letter template.

5. How much should I claim?

This really depends on how far you want to go. Remember the OFT has pretty much indicated that all charges over £12 are unfair. You can ask for either ask for the full amount of each charge to be refunded or just the difference between the actual charge and the OFT recommended fee of £12; for example, a charge of £35 minus £12 would give a refund of £23. You should take into concider taking the easy route, asking for a refund of anything over the £12 charge per claim. That being said, threr has been plenty of people have successfully claimed back 100% of fees, especially those that were charged before to the OFT report in 2006 ?the main reason being because the credit card companies are not keen to justify their fees in court.

6. Credit card provider responds:

If you after two weeks you fail to get a don’t get a response of any kind within two weeks, write again and follow up with a phone call. Normally one of three things will happen.

Card provider pays up - If you have asked for the difference rather than the full fee to be refunded then if your lucky the provider may just pay up. If they do then well done you have just won.

Ignore or refuse your claim - Your provider may try to bluff you by saying that the charges are not illegal and try to scare you off with court letters. They will try anything to get out of paying you what your legally entitled to. So, don’t be put off ?stand your ground and and carry on regardless.

Claim Suspended - Some providers will even try the OFT test case claiming all claims are on hold, but the test case only applies to bank charges and NOT credit card charges. If your card provider claims that your case is on hold write back to clarify that your claim is in relation to credit cards and not bank charges and that you will be continuing with your complaint.

7. Provider still refuses to acknowledge my claim?

Its time to get serious and start to think about legal action. Don’t let this put you off, the process is fairly straightforward and in many cases the provider will pay up before any hearing can go ahead, or will simply fail to show up in court ?either way, you win. The first thing to do is to write to your provider threatening letter claiming you taking legal action agaist them.

Try using our taking action letter template.

8. Take legal action:

Not many people ever reach this stage but If your provider still refuses to deal with your claim, it’s time to either take them to court or involve the Financial Ombudsman Service.The FOS are a free and independent service created by parliament to help settle disputes between financial companies and their customers. If you choose to go to court, you can lodge a claim at the County Court, either in person or online ?for more information, visit:

http://www.hmcourts-service.gov.uk/infoabout/claims/index.htm

Consumer Action Group, which is a useful source of information and advice on making a legal claim.

If you choose to involve the FOS, visit

http://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumer/complaints.htm

Remember that involving the FOS is free and is often the best way to get a result. They will simply take on the claim on your behalf, and you still have the option to go to court if you don’t like the results of the FOS?efforts.

9. The defence:

According to Consumer Action, it is very unlikely that any provider will go this far. If it does, you will recieve a court questionnaire, which you must complete and return within a week. Do so, and make sure you send a copy to your provider, so they can see you have no intentions on backing down. At this point, the credit card company usually fails to turn up in court and allowing you to win by default.

10. Getting your money back:

As usualwith credit card providers, they are normally alot slower to give you money back than they are at taking it. If your credit card company fails to pay up, you have the right to send in the bailiffs. This can be done very easily, via the MoneyClaim website.

11. Avoid credit card charges in the future:

It is best to manage your money more effectively and avoid any future charges. Penalty charges won’t go away altogether, though they will more than likely be reduced. To avoid paying fees, avoid missing your payments and going over your credit limit.

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