Airlines shamed in Which? campaign on card feesWhich? to launch super-complaint over high charges

13 February 2011

Airline charges

Many airlines charge consumers huge fees to make credit or debit card transactions. 

Some airlines are charging credit and debit card fees that are inflated by as much as 4,900%, new research from Which? has found. Despite it only costing airlines around 20p to take payment on a debit card, some companies charge as much as £5 per person per leg to take payment on a debit or credit card.

For those airlines that charge per person per flight, families are paying even bigger fees to book their holidays. Which? has calculated that for a family of four to book flights costing £100 per person return, the charges passed on by the airline would be:

  • Ryanair and Aer Arann- £40 for both debit and credit card payments
  • Manx2 - £36 for debit card payments and £39.60 for credit card payments
  • Flybe - £36 for debit card and £40 for credit card payments
  • FlyThomascook - £20 for both debit and credit card payments
  • Air Southwest - £8 for debit card and £32 for credit card payments

In response to these excessive charges, Which? has announced plans to launch a super-complaint against the surcharges that many companies impose when customers pay with a debit or credit card. The super-complaint kicks off the consumer champion’s new campaign against “rip-off charges”, and consumers can support the campaign at

Which? wants:

  • Retailers to tell consumers upfront if they have surcharges and how much they are – this needs to be in plain language in their advertising and promotions
  • Fair charges – the costs to the consumer should be the same as the cost to the retailer – this shouldn’t be a hidden way of making money
  • For debit cards, as the cost to the retailer is so small, we think it’s more reasonable for the retailer to absorb the cost and not pass it on to their customers

Which? chief executive, Peter Vicary-Smith, said: 'We think card fees are a complete rip-off. Why should families pay more than the airlines are being charged? 

'Booking holidays is already an expensive activity for many families, and card fees are an unwelcome extra. Airlines shouldn't be using card processing costs as an excuse for boosting their profits.'

Read more about the Which? credit and debit card charges campaign 

For more information about what we're doing to reform the market and the action you can take, read our card surcharges campaign page.

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