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Westpac to refund foreign transaction fees to cardholders


Westpac building

Hundreds of thousands of Westpac customers are expected to receive refunds.

This week, Westpac has announced that it will be refunding foreign transaction fees paid by hundreds of thousands of credit card customers. These refunds have come after the bank admitted that it hadn’t provided enough information about how and when foreign transaction fees would be charged. The bank currently charges 3% when you use your Visa credit card for foreign transactions and 3.5% for Westpac American Express companion cards.

Since March 2014, Westpac has been charging customers foreign transaction fees on purchases made in Australian dollars with merchants or financial institutions based overseas. However, following a review and customer feedback, Westpac has admitted that the disclosure of these new fees may not have been clear enough. The bank will be refunding fees and interest charged to customers who used Westpac-branded credit cards and Altitude Business cards for foreign transactions over an 18 or so month period. As of yet, Westpac hasn't revealed the exact value of these refunds.

The transactions eligible for a refund include online shopping with international sites such as Amazon, and travel bookings with overseas organisations made between March 2014 and 26 November 2015. After uncovering the error, the bank has confirmed that it’s contacting customers to inform them of their impending refunds. To resolve the issue, Westpac has also amended its credit card terms and conditions so that this particular clause is more clearly communicated.

So, while cardholders will now be informed of when the fee is charged, this doesn’t change the fact that they’ll be charged up to 3.5% in foreign transaction fees each time they use their card for these types of transactions. If you regularly use your credit card for online shopping at international retailers or when travelling overseas, you might want to consider comparing credit cards that charge low or no foreign transaction fees.

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