Ticket charges

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly commonplace to be charged extra fees when buying theatre tickets, tickets to music events or tickets for seasonal leisure activities. 

But, from 13 January 2018 ticket agents and venues are no longer allowed to charge you a surcharge for using your credit or debit card when making a purchase.

Card surcharges are now illegal as a result of new EU rules to help improve transparency and fairness. 

This applies to any online payments, credit transfers and direct debits and will remain law in the UK even after the UK leaves the EU.

Customers using American Express, Paypal, Apple or Android Pay will also no longer face surcharges for using a different payment system.

The same applies when buying tickets for a lot of major event venues.

If you spot any firm wrongly adding a surcharge for paying by card you should report it to Trading Standards.

Will I have to pay surcharges in the EU after Brexit?

In a no-deal Brexit scenario, any EU business selling a holiday or event from the EU to a UK consumer won't have to adhere to the surcharge ban. 

This is likely to make holiday purchases more expensive, but this will be on a company by company basis. 

If the withdrawal agreement is approved by the EU and UK, it's been agreed that consumer rights will remain unchanged until the terms of the future relationship between the UK and the EU are decided. 

This transitional period will last from the day the UK leaves the EU to 31 December 2020.

Read our guide on how Brexit could impact consumer rights for more information.

Ticket charging rules

Extra charges, such as a booking or postage fee, are still legal and the rules don't say how much a company is allowed to charge.

Terms used to describe extra charges vary among different ticket sellers. 

For example, a booking fee or service charge can also be a processing fee or commission. 

The delivery fee can be known as a transaction fee or order processing fee.

The amount for these fees isn't restricted by regulations that protect consumers from excessive ticket charges.

Rather, the rules that relate to ticket charges are founded in the Committee of Advertising Practice Code (or CAP Code), which is administered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

These rules reflect the requirements of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which require all compulsory fees, whether fixed or variable, to be clearly disclosed at the outset when the ticket price is first displayed. 

Ticket seller charges

There are typically two types of extra fees charged by ticket sellers on top of a ticket's face value:

  • a booking fee or service charge for every ticket in your order
  • a postage charge for each complete order

There is no standard way to calculate a service charge for particular tickets. 

Promoters and agents simply agree on the fees for each individual event.

Even opting to collect your tickets at a venue's box office rather than having them delivered to your door often attracts a charge from official ticket sellers.  

You may even have to pay to have your tickets emailed to you for you to print yourself - such as with Ticketmaster's TicketFast service.

Avoid ticket service charges

Often, the first you hear about a ticket seller's service charges is when you go through to a sales site or phone line to book the tickets, so don't rely on promotional advertising to give you the full price you'll be asked to pay.

There should always be an option to buy tickets at face value without paying extra service charges. 

For many events the only way to avoid paying any extra charges is to turn up at the venue's box office. 

Remember, venues should no longer charge you a surcharge for paying by credit card.

If you spot any firm wrongly adding a surcharge for paying by card you should report it to Trading Standards.


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