/ Money, Travel & Leisure

Ryanair lands booking fees on its prepaid card customers

Ryanair plane

If you took out Ryanair’s Cash Passport to avoid paying £6 fees with the airline, Ryanair has news for you. The airline will soon start charging you extra to book your flight, just like everyone else.

Just over a year ago the airline announced that Ryanair Cash Passport prepaid card holders would not be subject to a £6 fee on flights booked with the carrier. Anyone using another prepaid card, credit or debit card would have to stump up an admin fee to book online.

The move coincided with pressure on the flight industry – and others – following the success of our super complaint on ‘rip-off’ card surcharges.

One year on and the budget airline has announced that it ‘regrets to inform [cardholders] that, as a result of decisions by the UK Office of Fair Trading, Ryanair Cash Passport card users will no longer benefit from avoiding the £6 admin fee for transactions made on Ryanair.com’.

Ryanair plays its trump card

However, one of the main reasons people took out Ryanair’s card was to dodge paying the extra charges. Simon told us on a previous Conversation: ‘I only got the card to avoid the admin fee’.

Although we may prefer not to pay these fees at all, if they were integrated into the headline price (which Ryanair has said it will do) at least you’d be able to see what you’re paying for upfront. It’s also likely that if all airlines did this, the competition would keep prices low anyway.

When Ryanair introduced its Cash Passport the airline marketed the card as offering ‘huge savings’. It stated that the card would avoid the £6 administration fee that other cardholders would have to pay. So, you can understand the ire felt by several cardholders who received an email earlier this month telling them that the £6 fee was being imposed as of 1 December.

And our commenter Michelle, who took a punt on the card, is annoyed that she’ll be charged to make transactions on it:

‘I cannot just close my account and withdraw the money that is still on the card. However I claim the money back – it will cost me.’

That people will now have to pay to use their Ryanair card for the purpose they took it out is bad news. That they have money on a card they don’t want is even worse.


Ryanair expected the majority of its customers to pay the £6 “admin fee”. The fee does not reflect Ryanair’s costs of processing a card payment, but was introduced purely to legitimise a misleading indication of price. By excluding the £6 fee from fares, it allows Ryanair to advertise fares at £6 less than reality. The majority of customers who pay the fee have been subsidising the minority who don’t. Given that this minority benefits from £6 off fares purely to satisfy a legal loophole, it’s no bad thing that this arrangement has come to an end with the impending closure of the loophole.


Considering that this change in terms is at the consumer’s detriment, surely customers will be able to cancel their accounts and withdraw their funds without incurring any fees?

Bernadette in Oxford says:
8 November 2012

This is disgraceful, thank goodness I have nearly used all my credit up. However I will still use Ryanair as it is the cheapest way to travel to Ireland.

Michael Diver says:
8 November 2012

This is the 3rd different card I obtained in order to avoid administration charges on my 6-10 annual return journeys on Ryanair and I use the card exclusively for my Ryanair travel. I am now left with a few hundred pounds credit on my Passport account which I presumably cannot close.Remember that the minimum amount of top-up is £150!! With all the other fiddles that “O’Dreary” gets up to e.g. “no taxes”, “no booking fees” he could easily cancel these charges to passengers who obviously are a loyal bunch of travelers (they would not have gone to the trouble of taking one of these cards except for Ryanair travel)


Don’t go on Ryanair. It’s quite simple. There are always alternatives. I’m not prepared to turn a blind eye to their business practices for the sake of a cheap ride. If you think they treat their passengers badly, they are just as dreadful to their staff. This company doesn’t deserve our money and if everyone boycotted it they’d soon change their ways.

Ian Sanderson (RM3) says:
9 November 2012

There are some routes where Ryanair have a monopoly, such as daily flights from Stansted to Brno. (Wizzair does Luton to Brno, but not every day, and Luton is quite a bit farther from where we live.) If we have to deal with Ryanair and the like, as we do, you just have to keep reading the small print and doing the TOTAL sums for each journey, including deciding how you pay, how you check in and what bag you will take and weighing it carefully each time before you go to the airport.

Roberto says:
8 November 2012

I travel a lot on low cost airlines and always compare all the different total costs including looking at alternative airports plus train or coach fares, at both ends of my destination. Where I have an option, due to Ryanair’s approach to total disregard of it’s customers and continuing ways to disguise the total cost I will pay more to travel with one of the other airlines which do not take this approach and even travel to other airports to use alternative airlines.

Where I have a choice I prefer to pay a bit more not to use Ryanair.

Kris says:
8 November 2012

This news is only for people using ryanair cash passport in UK. I am from Poland and we can book the flights using any mastercard prepaid card. After 1st Dec Ryanair will still offer mastercard prepaid card zero booking fee. Ryanair cannot charge 6 pounds in Poland. In Poland is price war between ryanair and wizz air. Ryanair offer lots of flights from Warsaw Modlin to Oslo,Stockholm,Mediolan,London,Brussels and more for just 20pence. Wizz air doing same destinations for 80pence. If ryanair add 6 pounds to the ticket price they’ll loose so many people. MOL- boss of Ryanair said few weeks back. We are always cheaper than Wizz air. If Wizz air will sell tickets for free ,we’ll pay you extra to flight with us. Sorry for bad english.