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Home > Debt Management > Debt management guides > Reclaiming unfair credit card charges

Reclaiming unfair credit card charges

If you have suffered credit card charges for having late payments, missing payments, or going over the credit limit, you may be able to reclaim the charges, especially if you are currently struggling with debt. As a UK resident, you are entitled to certain rights and options, and you may even be able to reclaim credit card charges that occurred several years ago.

Credit card charges and your right to reclaim

The Office of Fair Trading concluded in 2006 that common credit card charges for exceeding credit limits, late payments, and missed payments were exorbitant and not reflective of the cost incurred by the credit card companies.

Thanks to the OFT ruling, most credit card companies have reduced their charges from £30 and £35 to as low as £12. Prior to the 2006 OFT ruling, you could have feasibly accumulated hundreds or thousands of pounds in extra debt as a result of these exorbitant charges.

If you are currently suffering from a financial hardship and have incurred credit card charges, or if you incurred charges at higher rates before the OFT ruling, some or all of the charges may be able to be reclaimed by taking the following steps:

  1. Determine the extent of the charges

  2. If you practice online banking like the majority of other modern UK residents, you are likely able to review statements dating back years and see the charges that you have incurred.

    If the statements are not available online and you are unable to retrieve this necessary data, you can write your credit card provider and ask them to send you a comprehensive list of all of the charges that it has issued to the account.

    If they refuse to do so, write them again and state that you are entitled to the information under the Data Protection Act. You may also want to include a cheque for £10 to ensure that they send you the information you need.

    Rather than asking for credit card statements, you should only ask for details of all of your past charges, because the credit card company may charge a higher fee for mailing all of your past statements.

    According to the Data Protection Act, your credit card provider has 40 days to respond to your request. If you are unable to access your personal information or the credit card company does not respond within 40 days, contact the Information Commissioner and file a complaint.

  3. File a complaint with your credit card company

  4. After receiving a list of charges, you need to write a letter to the credit card company and explain the financial difficulties you were experiencing at the time, the stress and anxiety the charges caused, how the charges caused or compounded your financial hardship, and why the charges were too high.

  5. Review your credit card company’s response

  6. If your credit card company makes you an offer, consider the fairness of the offer in relation to the stress and financial difficulties the charges caused you. Once you have decided upon a response, you can write the company back and accept the payout or suggest a figure you think would be fair.

    If the credit card company writes you back with further questions, honestly answer all of the questions and once again await their response.

    If the company completely rejects your claim, do not get discouraged, because you can take the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Taking your claim to the Financial Ombudsman Service

Currently, the Financial Ombudsman Service receives more than 100 complaints a week regarding unfair credit card charges. Like it does for countless other claimants, the FOS will investigate your claim and determine if you have been unfairly treated. If so, your credit card company will be forced to provide you with a full or partial refund.

Although there is no charge for the valuable service provided by the FOS, you must complain to the credit card company before they will investigate your claim.

You can visit the Financial Ombudsman Service website to view full details of their complaint filing and investigative process.

As you can see, the process of reclaiming unfair credit card charges is rather simple and can be done free of charge. Therefore, it is not necessary to use the services of companies who state that they can help you with this process. You can easily write a few letters yourself and save yourself from having to give up 20 to 30 percent of your payout.

Avoiding a credit card charge

If you find yourself going over the credit limit or missing a payment for the first time, filing a claim will not be necessary. Simply call your credit card company and ask them to remove the charge because it was your first offense. Most credit card companies will gladly drop the charge if you have a history of making timely payments.

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