/ Money, Motoring

Taking a black cab? Look out for ‘rip-off’ card surcharges

If you’re lucky enough to have ‘won’ tickets to the Olympics, you’ll have to make your way there. The Tube seems to be keeping up with demand, but if a black cab is more your style, watch out for hefty card charges.

You see, according to Transport for London (TfL) rules, if you’re taking a black cab in the capital, you could be stung with a charge of up to 12.5% if you pay by debit or credit card.

The Tube has actually been doing a pretty good job of keeping up with the influx of visitors to the Games. I take the Docklands Light Railway and the Jubilee line to work, both of which are key routes for the Olympic Park in Stratford, and both have generally been quieter than before the Olympics.

I know not everyone wants to take the Tube. Sometimes a black cab is what you’re after – it’s my grandpa’s chosen form of London transport, and who can blame him at the age of 92?

London black cabs in surcharges ‘rip-off’

But how much more will these surcharges add to your fare? Since a journey from Waterloo to Stratford costs around £25 (dependent on the traffic), paying by debit or credit card would result in an extra £3. For a return trip, that’s £6 more.

It’s much worse if you’re visiting London from abroad – a taxi trip from Heathrow to Stratford will cost around £80 – at 12.5% you’ll have another £10 to pay.

So, if your black cab accepts card payments, you’ll either have to cough up the surcharge, pay by cash (which is what I usually do) or take another form of transport.

Thankfully, after our surcharges super complaint, the government has pledged to ban excessive card surcharges by the end of 2012. And when we questioned TfL about this, it told us it ‘will comply with any new legislation […] in relation to credit card surcharges.’

I’m sure you’ll agree that even if the car that picks you up is Nissan’s luxury NV200 black cab, unveiled today, paying 12.5% more just for the privilege of paying by card is taking the mickey.


I tend to use black cabs only when travelling to/from airports on business, when my company’s client ultimately foots the bill. It’s administratively much simpler if I pay for the journey with a company American Express card. The clients never mind the unreasonable 12.5% surcharge as they are not price-sensitive, but the principle of the matter annoys me personally. Although the government’s early implemenation of Article 19 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights was caused primarily by budget airlines’ unreasonable surcharges, I welcome the side-effect of an end to black cabs’ surcharges which have existed for much longer but without the same attention from consumer groups.

Whereas using a credit card for purchase of goods and services over £100, that will not apply to most taxi fares. Get rid of the surcharges and get rid of tips too. Charge a fair price and make it clear what the customer has to pay. Move into the 21st century.

By referring to a £100 threshold, I think you’re referring to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 which is not the topic in question. We’re discussing the government’s early implemenation of Article 19 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights, which is a totally different piece of legislation.

I think you may have told me this before, nfh. Anyway, I’m sitting up and paying attention this time.


joecork says:
7 August 2012

This article is both correct and incorrect…

Some taxis do charge 12.5% and some ie hailo charge the driver. Taxis are not a rip off and infant display signs to inform customers the charge. Many ie Persephone charge 10% my suggestion if you don’t wish to pay charges or are not sure pay cash.

Life these days seems to be about choice the equipment costs money, unless the driver is using an app …. Don’t blame the drivers or the taxis blame the credit card companies !

Patrick, are you sure that the government’s early implementation of Article 19 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights will successfully outlaw the 12.5% surcharge on black cabs? Article 19 states “Member States shall prohibit traders from charging consumers, in respect of the use of a given means of payment, fees that exceed the cost borne by the trader for the use of such means“. What’s to stop the taxi trade from claiming that the taxi driver is the “trader” and that the company processing credit card payments at 12.5% is just another acquirer and separate from the trader? They could claim that some acquirers charge 20p whereas other acquirers charge 12.5%. As long as they can demonstrate that the 12.5% is a cost borne by the taxi driver but not set by the taxi driver, they might be able to continue the status quo. Perhaps Which should contact the responsible government department and ensure that the forthcoming legislation is watertight to prevent such a loophole.

Markus Jalmerot says:
17 October 2012

It’s a shame it should cost that much to ride a black cab. Luckily, most london minicabs charge less and that is what most of us use anyway..

sheila says:
28 December 2013

This Christmas weekend I took a black cab from Waterloo to Crouch End. I was pleased to see I could pay by debit card–until I saw a very small notice saying a surcharge of 10% would be levied. I paid cash.

It’s not the Taxis making the ‘rip-off’ charges it’s the banks. London’s Black Taxi fares are so low, especially for short journeys, that they would have to be increased significantly to absorb these charges. Either way, the banks will still charge & the customer will still pay, except cash customers would be paying for the convenience of card users. Either way, there is no free lunch.