Low-cost airlines must stop 'unfair' fees on debit cards

If a deal looks too good to be true, it usually is. Take for example, budget airlines. The super-low fairs sound fantastic, but when you add up the different charges, suddenly the deal isn't so good.

EasyJet plane
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But it's not just baggage fees that the budget airlines add on. Cheap flight companies like Ryanair, easyJet, bmibaby and Flybe also charge their customers for using their debit cards to pay for tickets – and it's got to stop, say the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The compulsory fees are added to the overall charge at the last moment of booking – and they can add up. Ryanair, for example, charges a fee of £6 per person, per journey – adding £48 to the cost of return flights for a family of four.

The Office of Fair Trading say these kind of surcharges, used by airlines and other companies, raise about £100million a year.

It has now called for cinemas, estate agents, train and ferry operators, theatre ticket agencies and travel companies to stop adding these 'administration fees.'

The OFT have stated that most of these companies are breaching 'clear and transparent pricing' rules. While companies can impose a processing charge for credit-card purchases, these should be made transparent up front – and not added on at the last moment.

Those that do not stop charging fees face enforcement action through the courts, it said.

The OFT is also asking the Government to make it illegal to impose debit card surcharges on all internet transactions.

The consumer group Which? welcomed the changes. Peter Vicary-Smith, its chief executive, said: "Hidden or excessive card fees are unfair, and we're delighted that the OFT supports this view.

"It's a victory for consumers. Businesses can start to be upfront and fair over card charges today."

What do you think? Will it save the average consumer money - or will companies just find another way to charge us more?