Ryanair launches costly Cash Passport prepaid cardWhich? pressures government to ban surcharges

04 October 2011

Ryanair - people getting on airline

The Ryanair Cash Passport launched on 4 October

The launch of Ryanair's new Cash Passport today will mean that any Ryanair passengers without the prepaid card will be subject to a £6 booking surcharge for the privilege of paying.

Ryanair is just one of many airlines that charge excessive fees for purchasing flights on a debit or credit card.

But its announcement in September to complicate the process further adds insult to UK consumers who have little opportunity to avoid such fees. Which? has been pressing the government to take action on 'rip-off' card surcharges.

Sting in its tail

While the prospect of escaping a £6 fee may be encouraging for regular Ryanair customers, Which? is warning consumers to know their facts before investing in the Cash Passport:

  • There's a £6 fee for applying for the card – reimbursed in the form of Ryanair vouchers when you buy your first flight.
  • There's a £2 fee when withdrawing money from an ATM – amongst the highest of its kind for a pre-paid card according to our research.
  • You'll be charged £4.00 for getting cash over the counter.
  • You'll be charged £0.50 for using the card to pay for a purchase in the UK.
  • You have to load a minimum of £150 onto the card.
  • If you don't use the card for six months, you'll be charged a monthly fee of £2.50.
  • If you have a negative balance on your card you'll be charged £10.00.

Third hoop to jump

The Ryanair Cash Passport is the third iteration of its free payment method. First was the Electron card, followed closely by the standard pre-paid MasterCard. From 1 November, those not prepared to move over from a standard prepaid Mastercard will face a £6 fee.

Surcharges campaign

In June 2011, the Office of Fair Trading agreed with the Which? super complaint that excessive surcharges needed to be tackled. It recommended the government change the law to prohibit surcharging for all debit cards. We've been lobbying the Treasury to take this action and have had the backing of over 8,000 consumers.

The former government committed to responding within 90 days to the OFT's recommendations following any super complaint. But the current government has yet to issue its response despite it being over three months since the OFT made its recommendations.

£265,000 on surcharges

Which? thinks it's time the government hurried up and took action to ban 'rip-off' surcharges for good. Every day the Treasury stalls on surcharges, consumers spend another £265,000 on surcharges.

More on this...