Monarch scraps debit card surchargesWhich? welcomes more transparent pricing

01 June 2011

Monarch is scrapping debit card surcharges

Monarch is scrapping debit card surcharges

Monarch Airlines has scrapped debit card surcharges in a bid to win business from budget rivals like Ryanair and Easyjet.

The British-based airline, which is currently undergoing a major rebrand, said there was 'no justification' for advertising one price and then stinging customers with hidden charges when they come to pay for their flights.

Which? has been campaigning for airlines to scrap 'rip-off' card surcharges, which are unfair for consumers and can rapidly inflate the cost of things like flights, ferry crossings and train journeys.

Credit card fees also more transparent

Monarch said it would no longer be charging extra for any bookings made with debit cards, but that credit card payments would still incur a flat fee of £10 per booking. However, the airline claims to be in negotiations with credit card companies to reduce that fee further.

Rochelle Turner, Head of Research at Which? Travel said: 

'Over 42,000 people have told us they want to see an end to excessive card fees, so it's great to see Monarch scrapping charges for debit card payments, and making credit card fees transparent and upfront.'

Other airlines should follow suit

'While low-cost airlines are some of the worst offenders when it comes to excessive card surcharges, this murky practice is becoming ever more widespread, from cinemas to hotels and even some local authorities. The cost to businesses for taking payment by debit card is a matter of pennies, so there's simply no justification for excessive fees. We'd like to see others follow in the footsteps of Monarch and stop using processing costs to boost their profits.'

It's thought Monarch's decision to scrap debit card charges will pile pressure on rival airlines to follow suit. But despite suggestions that the European Commission could try to stop the practice, many airlines continue to charge up to £6 per passenger for a one-way flight, adding significantly to the overall cost of flights.

Surcharge super complaint

This March, Which? submitted a super complaint about the issue of surcharges to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). If the complaint is successful, the OFT could order airlines and other companies to stop charging excessive amounts for card payments. We've asked for

  • Upfront costs. Retailers should tell consumers if they charge for purchasing on credit or debit cards, and if so what the cost is. The information should be clear and in plain English in the advertising and promotions.
  • Fair charges. The cost of the charge to the consumer should be the same as the cost to the retailer.
  • Retailers to absorb the debit card fee. As the cost of processing a debit card is so small, we think retailers should absorb this cost – and not pass it on to their customers.

A decision from the OFT is due at the end of June.