Quebec Court of Appeal Decision in Credit Card Currency Conversion Fee Class Action

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Credit card network rules and contracts between issuers and cardholders charge cardholders a fee each time a credit card is used outside of the country where the card is issued to purchase goods or services or to make cash withdrawals. The fee is a percentage (in a range of 1.5 to 2.5% evolving over the years) of the amount of the purchase price or withdrawal and is rolled into the currency conversion rate reported in the monthly statements issued to the cardholder.

For many years the existence of this fee and the fact that it was rolled into the reported conversion rate was not disclosed at all. One by one beginning in the early 2000’s, however, the issuers modified their contracts with the cardholders to disclose the fee and its method of calculation.

The imposition and disclosure of conversion fees in credit card agreements have been challenged in class actions and other proceedings in North America for the past 12 years or so. Trailer class actions were filed in Quebec in 2004 (known as the Adams and Marcotte cases).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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