Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Airline Bank and Credit Card Charges

September 14th  - UPDATE
Ryanair has announced from 1st November 2011 the holders of Pre-Paid Mastercards will no longer be able to book free. They will need to pay £6 per journey or £12 return PER PASSENGER. That's £48 for a family of four.

There is only one way around this charge - get a Ryanair 'Cash Passport', which is a NEW pre-paid Mastercard! Seems like Ryanair is saying 'Gotcha'

  • Hidden charges

  • Often excessive extra costs

  • Charges bear no relationship to the cost the bank levies

A couple of weeks ago I received the following email from Lydia. She lives in Spain whilst her daughter lives in Nottinghamshire.

‘David, thank you very much for the help that your Blog has given me but you have asked for feedback so here goes.

My daughter wants to visit me in October but told she was confused about bank charges added to the cost of flights by various airlines. I think, from asking around that many are in this same situation.

Could you do something on the Blog on this matter?

Best wishes, Lydia

I am delighted to help. If you have feedback or comments, please email me.

They don’t make it easy for infrequent travellers but I think I’ve come up with something for readers which your family, friends and neighbours will find helpful too.

I’ll set out the seven main budget airlines operating between Spain and UK, but where ever you fly the charges are the same. To avoid confusion and exchange rate differences these are the sterling charges on September 6th 2011.

BMI Baby
There are three levels of charge with BMI Baby but these are set out clearly and not difficult to follow;

Visa Electron is free
Debit cards are £6 per person
Credit cards are £9 per person

However, please remember that the cost is per person, so a family of 4 using a credit card booking will pay £36 booking fee.

Easyjet have three distinct levels of charge and you may need your calculator.

Visa Electron is free
Debit card charge is 2.5% with a minimum of £4.95. This is the same as Thomson Airways (see below)
Credit cards are charged at the same rate as debit cards plus an extra £8 transaction fee.

Flybe’s booking fee prices are clearly set out but please remember that they are per person.

Visa Electron card is free
Debit card is £9 per person
Credit card charge amounts to £10 per person or £40 for a family of 4. have three levels of charge but I found the credit card fee difficult to understand.

Visa Electron card is free of charge
Debit card charge of 3.5% showing as a transaction fee and subject to a minimum of £4.99
If you use a credit card you will still get the transaction charge, as per the debit card plus a credit card charge of an additional 3.5%

Visa Electron cards and Debit cards are free of booking fees when travelling with Monarch. The alternatives are £5 for using Paypal and £10 for using any other credit card. The cost is added per booking not per passenger.

Correct until 1st November 2011
The always controversial Ryanair are easy to understand but expensive. The costs I will mention below are per passenger. There is however one way to get no booking fee even with Ryanair. That is through a Pre-paid Mastercard. Most issuers of these cards don’t do a credit check as you need to provide the spending limit yourself from another account.

This is not a recommendation but I have a Caxton Fx Currency Card which is a Pre-paid Mastercard. It is worth researching which one suits you.

All other forms of payment, with Ryanair, attract a charge of £12 per passenger or £48 for a familyof 4.

Thomson Airways
Visa Electron cards are free with Thomson. Booking fees by any other method are charged at a rate of 2.5% of the total cost with a minimum of £4.95.

So if the total cost of the booking is £100 the booking fee is £4.95. If the total is £200 the fee is £5.

* * * *

If you are a frequent flyer you may want to ensure that you have all bases covered! I found from my own experience that I can always get no booking fees or transaction charges with the following;

  • I got a visa electron card from my Spanish bank
  • I have a debit card with my UK bank
  • I applied for a Pre-paid Mastercard having made a comparisons using the internet.

For those living in Spain these steps may be comparatively easy. UK family and friends may find it difficult to get a Visa Electron card. However my research took me to .

I hope that you found this helpful. Would you help me?

Please send this to anyone you know who uses budget airlines – they may also find ‘Financial Pages in Spain’ helpful in other ways too.

David Goodall
Financial Pages in Spain