Ryanair to introduce £6 card chargeSurcharge added to prepaid card flight payments

08 November 2012

Passengers boarding a Ryanair plane

Ryanair is to add a £6 per person per flight admin fee for Cash Passport prepaid card customers, a year after introducing the card as a way to avoid surcharges imposed when booking flights with other cards.

The airline was forced to be transparent about surcharges imposed when flights were paid for with a debit card, following a supercomplaint to ban rip off surcharges lodged by Which? with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). 

As a result of the supercomplaint, companies are obliged to show surcharges clearly in the headline price so customers can more easily make comparisons. Any surcharge should also be a genuine reflection of the low cost of processing the payment. 

Ryanair blames the OFT for fee

Ryanair blamed the introduction of the fee on the OFT ruling in a letter informing Cash Passport card holders that it will be introducing a £6 admin fee on their MasterCard prepaid card. We don't think this excuse is valid.

The airline sent customers emails informing them of the change in early November, less than four weeks before the proposed introduction of the new fees.

Several consumers contacted Which? about Ryanair's plans. One told a previous Which? Conversation: 'I only got the card to avoid the admin charges. I have £88 still on the card.' 

Passing the buck is no excuse

A Which? spokesperson said: 'More than 50,000 people supported our campaign to end rip off surcharges. We want businesses to be transparent and make costs clear to consumers. Companies should show surcharges clearly in the headline price so that people can make an easy comparison and this charge should be a genuine reflection of the cost of processing a payment.

'Airlines should not use the government's ban on excessive surcharges as an excuse to push up prices. When the new rules come into effect, we want to see a tough enforcement regime in place to make sure firms are held to account if they flout the ban.'

What can Ryanair Cash Passport cardholders do

If you have a Ryanair Cash Passport you can use it to buy products or services within the UK in addition to flights with Ryanair, although you will be charged 50p per transaction. This fee is waived if you use the card abroad, but it may be difficult to establish what you are paying due to fluctuating exchange rates. 

ATM withdrawals are also an option, although these will cost £2 for each transaction. The other option is to redeem the balance on your card. You may incur a £6 fee by doing so. 

More on this...

  • Prepaid cards - for more on the benefits of prepaid cards
  • Surcharges campaign - why surcharges are unfair to consumers
  • Which? Conversation - Have your say on Ryanair's latest charge