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Airlines to end surprise surcharges

Debit card charges to be included in main price

airline charges

Twelve leading airlines have agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline price rather than bury them at the end of the booking process.

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced today that it has persuaded all carriers it investigated in response to Which?’s super complaint to incorporate debit card surcharges into the headline charge and make credit card charges upfront. This will make it easier for consumers to establish the true cost of a flight and shop around for the best price. 

Transparent card fees

Central to the Which? super complaint and the OFT ruling was the lack of transparency of card charges, which should be made clear up-front and not sprung on customers when they come to make a payment. It is estimated that card surcharges charged by airlines cost consumers upwards of £300 million a year. 

All unfair card surcharges must stop

Commenting on the airlines’ decision to remove debit card surcharges Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: ‘Over 50,000 people supported our campaign to end rip-off surcharges so it’s good news that debit card surcharges will be displayed in the headline price of flights – as long as the airlines don’t use this as an excuse to push up their prices. It’s also important that credit card charges are clearly displayed throughout the booking process and the OFT should make sure that all companies are taking these steps, not just airlines.

‘We’re pleased that the Government has said they are sticking to their original timetable to ban excessive card surcharges by the end of the year.’

Clive Maxwell, the OFT’s chief executive said: ‘This is a great outcome for the millions of people who buy flights online. It is important that the cost presented when they search for a flight is realistic and that they are not surprised by extra charges. Otherwise it is harder for them to shop around for the best deal.’

Following its promise last December, the Government has also reconfirmed that excessive debit and credit card charges will be banned outright by the end of the year as it brings in European legislation 18 months early.

More on this…

Which? surcharge campaign – find out more about ‘rip-off’ surcharges

Your rights – consumer protection for credit card holders

Best credit cards – a guide to the best credit cards on the market

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