Ryanair's cynical ploy to keep charges for paying by card

The OFT was supposed to have turned the tide against outrageous charges for using a debit or credit card. They announced that from now on companies can only charge customers a fee that reflects the tiny cost to the business. We were supposed to be waving goodbye to the days where the fee could make up a large proportion of the total cost.

But Ryanair looks like it's going to carry on with its charges - after finding a loophole.

The move prompted Monarch to make a pre-emptive strike and abolish all charges for using a debit card. It did, however, increase its credit card charge at the same time, so it's not all plain sailing for customers.

Meanwhile Ryanair said the OFT's ruling wouldn't affect what Ryanair customers pay, because they aren't charged a fee for using a card - it's an 'administration fee'. Ryanair says that the fee is designed to pay the costs associated with the booking system. However, this administration cost is apparently £6 per person per flight if you pay by card and nothing if you use a Mastercard prepay card.

The fight
It's fairly certain that the OFT and Ryanair are doing to come to blows over this argument. Low cost airlines were specifically mentioned in the super-complaint that promoted the OFT ruling, so its not going to like any moves to get around the ruling.

The OFT has already indicated that if needs be it will seek a change in the law so that any charges associated with paying by debt card are factored into the headline price - because it is increasingly the ubiquitous form of payment.

So what can you do about it?
If you're dead keen to fly Ryanair and want to avoid the extra fees you can get hold of a pre-pay card and dodge the fees. Alternatively, some people may prefer to bite the bullet and pay the fees in order to use a credit card. As long as the tickets cost more than £100, this gives them additional rights in the event a flight is cancelled or the airlines goes under, as they can claim the money back from their credit card company.

Whatever your approach, it pays to shop around and factor in all the fees before booking a flight.

But what do you think? Are these fees a small price to pay for cheap tickets, or do they leave you feeling ripped off? Let us know in the comments.

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