Excessive card fees must end, says Which?Which? submits super complaint over high charges

30 March 2011

Ryanair logo

Ryanair is one of the worst offenders for card surcharges, alongside Foxtons, The Trainline, AOL and other companies

Which? has today submitted a super complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) asking it to investigate excessive credit and debit card surcharges.

Peter Vicary-Smith, Which? chief executive, said: 'Consumers are really fed up with paying excessive card charges. So far, over 40,000 people have pledged their support for our campaign to bring these to an end.

'Low-cost airlines are some of the worst offenders, but excessive card surcharges are becoming ever more widespread, with everyone from cinemas and cabs to hotels and even some local authorities getting in on the act.'

Credit and debit card charges: the worst offenders

Which? warns that these charges are unjustifiable and becoming increasingly widespread. While the cost to companies for taking payment by card is around 20 pence to process a debit card payment, and no more than 2% of the transaction value for a credit card, researchers found dozens of examples of companies charging far higher fees.

Some of the worst offenders included:

  • A £25 debit card charge to pay a £5,000 deposit to rent a flat through Foxtons, one of London's biggest letting agents.
  • Train booking site The Trainline adds a £3.50 charge for paying by credit card, while Eurostar charges £4.
  • London cab firms Dial-a-Cab and Radio Taxis add 12.5% to the cost of their fares for paying with a debit or credit card, and Addison Lee charges £4.40.
  • Bath and North East Somerset council charges a 3% credit card charge, while the DVLA adds £2.50 for paying by credit card.
  • Admiral Insurance levies a £5.95 fee for credit card use; Swinton Insurance charges 2.5%.
  • AOL charges £1.99 on both credit and debit cards.
  • A family of four booking a return flight with Ryanair would be charged £40 to pay by debit or credit card.

Which? wants:

  • Companies to tell consumers up front if they levy surcharges and how much these are. This needs to be in plain language in their advertising and promotions;
  • Fair charges. The cost of paying by card to the consumer should be the same as the cost to the company. This shouldn't be a hidden way of making money;
  • For debit card transactions, as the cost to the company is so small, we think it's more reasonable for the retailer to absorb the cost and not pass it on to their customers.

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

Read a copy of the surcharge super complaint, as submitted to the OFT. For more information about what we're doing to reform the market and the action you can take, read our card surcharges campaign page.

Do you think the super complaint will put an end to unfair surcharges? Join the debate on Which? Conversation.

pound coins

Which? Money when you need it

You can follow @WhichMoney on Twitter to keep up-to-date with our Best Rates and Recommended Provider product and service reviews.

Sign up for the latest money news, best rates and recommended providers in your newsletter every Friday.

Or for money-saving tips, and news of how what's going on in the world of finance affects you, join Melanie Dowding and James Daley for the Which? Money weekly money podcast

For daily consumer news, subscribe to the Which? news RSS feed here. And to find out how we work for you on money issues, visit our personal finance campaigns pages.