How to fly with no credit card booking fee


RYANAIR CUSTOMERS will be able to avoid the airline’s hefty credit card booking charges following its decision to accept prepaid MasterCards from today.

Currently, travellers pay €5 for each person on each booking when they reserve with Ryanair using a credit card. This amounts to an extra €40 on the travel bill of a four-person group, even where their flights are booked and paid for together on the same card.

The airline said yesterday it would start accepting MasterCard prepaid cards as its “free form of payment”. Up to now, the only way to avoid the charges was to use the rarely seen Visa Electron card, but this is being phased out; Ryanair plans to impose a €5 a person a flight charge for paying with Visa Electron from January.

However, what customers save in credit card charges to Ryanair they could lose to the issuer. While Ryanair said prepaid MasterCards were much more widely available than Visa Electron, those available in Ireland come with substantial charges. The prepaid card issued by Payzone can be found in almost 500 shops around the country, but it costs €6 to buy and the user pays €3.50 to load up to €350. In addition, there is a 2.95 per cent commission for purchases.

Ryanair charged an annual fee of €85 for its own prepaid MasterCard when it was launched last year, plus 75c on each transaction. However, a spokesman said this card was no longer being offered.

No Irish financial institution issues Visa Electron cards, although it is possible to buy the card in convoluted fashion from overseas providers.

Airlines need to maintain a fee-free option for booking flights as it allows them to claim credit card booking charges are optional. Under advertising rules, they must include all unavoidable charges in the basic ticket price they advertise. By keeping credit card charges optional – regardless of how hard it is to find a fee-free way – they keep advertised fares lower than they would otherwise be.