/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Excessive card surcharges need to stop now, not in 2013

We celebrated when the government pledged to ban ‘rip-off’ card charges in response to our campaign. But some companies have increased or introduced surcharges in a bid to rake in cash while they still can.

The ban doesn’t come in until the end of the year, but Which? wants companies to scrap these unfair and excessive charges now.

To be in business, you need to take customers’ money one way or another, but processing cards should be considered a regular cost of running the company. If firms wish to charge those who pay by credit card extra, the fees should reflect the true cost to the business, rather than being used to squeeze extra profits out of consumers while keeping headline prices low.

Airline surcharges on test

Airlines alone charge customers £300m a year in card surcharges, according to the Office of Fair Trading. This is far too high.

Processing a debit card payment costs around 8p-20p, while credit card payments typically cost around 1.5% to 2% of the transaction value. But a family of four taking a return flight with Aer Lingus or Ryanair, for example, could pay £48 in debit card surcharges – that’s at least 240 times the typical processing cost of a debit card transaction.

The same family spending £2,000 on flights with Jet2 would pay a hefty £147 in surcharges if they paid by credit card.

The surcharge problem has grown worse over the years. Between 2004 and now, Flybe has increased its surcharges by 1,025%, while Ryanair has increased its surcharges by 1,400%. And while British Airways previously didn’t charge for credit card payments, it now charges £4.50 per passenger.

Some companies have even put up their charges since we submitted our super complaint in March 2011. BMIbaby, Flybe, Jet2 and Ryanair have all increased their surcharges, while Swiss and Lufthansa have introduced credit card surcharges of £4.50 per passenger.

No escaping surcharges

There is some good news: several companies have either reduced or removed their surcharges. Monarch, for example, has scrapped debit card charges – though they do charge a hefty £10 for credit cards. Easyjet has replaced its debit card fee with a flat fee of £9 per transaction, regardless of payment method. This is included in the total charges shown and is more transparent.

Over 50,000 people backed our campaign to end unfair surcharges, so while we’re pleased the government is taking acion, we will continue to work on this issue to ensure that the Consumer Rights Directive tackles ‘rip-off’ fees. Nonetheless, we want all companies to reduce or scrap their unfair surcharges now, rather than wait until the new rules come in at the end of 2012.

Which companies have you spotted that still charge excessive card surcharges? Name and shame them below.


I find Which coverage on this very misleading.” A family of four would be charged £48 by Ryanair” etc. This family of four pays £0. How? Easy, we have the Ryanair prepay card. Nowhere does your article mention this.
“Banning these charges would save you and me £265,000 a day” Don’t be daft, the companies will just push the price up somewhere else

Phil Smith says:
7 March 2012

It’s not daft to want the price paid to be reflected in the headline price. I note that Richard doesn’t mention the conditions in the small print of a Ryanair card. After six months, anyone who does not use the card will be charged £2.50 a month for inactivity, and if that charge puts the card into a negative balance a £10 charge will be made.


And it’s not daft to think that a Which article should tell you the whole story!

Phil Smith says:
7 March 2012

But it’s OK for you not to?

The point, as I am sure you know, is that these charges cannot be avoided, and the Which coverage says just that. The Ryanair card simply goes about it a different way. Unavoidable charges should be included in the headline price. I find it hard to understand how any ordinary customer could believe otherwise.


Steady on. Are you suggesting I am related to Michael O’Leary?! I am not, but I am a Ryanair fan. They have never bumped me off a flight like BA and BMI have done.
The point is the £48 is avoidable. Yes there are potentially CC charges but they are avoidable too.

Phil Smith says:
8 March 2012

Again you omit to mention that the only way of avoiding those charges is by using the card and as far as I know the only way to do that is to purchase more Ryanair products. Do you believe that unavoidable charges should be omitted from the headline price? By coincidence I have just been asked how you can avoid the charge for checking in online. The Ryanair website says:
“An online check-in fee applies to all reservations except in respect of certain promotional fares. This fee is charged on a per person/per one-way flight basis and amounts to €6/£6 for bookings made via http://www.ryanair.com/ and €12/£12 for bookings made via a call centre or at the airport.”
“From 1st October 2009 airport check-in desks will no longer be available at any Ryanair airport. All passengers will be required to web check-in and those who have checked in bags will use the airport “bag drop” desks, if required. ”
More unavoidable charges omitted from the headline price.

Carmel says:
15 March 2012

I tried to book through e dreams and they were going to charge me £17.50 for using my credit card. I went direct to the air line (air lingus) and they’ve charged me £12. Will anything happen about these surcharge payments when surcharging is finally outlawed?

Stuart Ainsworth says:
23 March 2012

Last week I was working in Coventry and wanted to arrange taxis for 9 colleagues to get us to and from a local restaurant. With 9 people we needed two taxis, I called the company to ask if I could pay in advance with a card for simplicity. Response: unless the fare is over £20 they would not accept a card and even then (wait for it) there was a 40% surcharge – I quesried to make sure I had heard correctly and yes its a 40% surcharge! I asked the manager to call me to discuss but unsurprisingly he didnt bother, 4 journeys we actually £28 total for cash – and both drivers asked for a tip!! Its outrageous really.

Robert Jones says:
26 March 2012

I feel that, as indicated by the first comment, small businesses such as small taxi firms and individual taxi owners and some small retailers could be hard hit by bank charges and penalties for these services, but that in other cases, such as airlines with large turnovers in excess of millions, their surcharges are wholly inappropriate.