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How to avoid Credit Card surcharges when booking a Flight

Sophie Christie of the Telegraph UK wrote this –

Your friend has stumbled on a little known trick that could save travellers a substantial amount of money when buying a flight or booking a holiday through a travel agent.

Travel Republic, the agent which your friend used to book his holiday, does not charge customers a credit card surcharge fee, if they pay with their credit card via PayPal, the online money transfer site. This is because, if a credit card is linked as the payment option for PayPal – make sure to remove all other bank details so that the payment is taken from the credit card – it is still recognised as a direct debit payment by the travel company, and therefore does not incur extra charges. If a customer paid directly with a credit card, their payment would incur a surcharge. Travel Republic is the only travel agent we are aware of that allows its customers to use this loophole, while as far as we know, Monarch Airlines is the only airline to allow it. Other budget carriers like easyJet and Ryanair do not allow customers to avoid this credit card fee by using PayPal. Ian Chambers, head of retail at Monarch, said: “We don’t charge a surcharge for those booking via PayPal with their credit card because it’s just another way that we can offer our customers a superior level of customer service and experience. “The ability to use the safe, quick and easy PayPal mobile checkout without paying extra currently offers our customers another reason to reward us with their loyalty.” Setting up a PayPal account is very straightforward. All you will need to do is create an account with an email address, then add the credit card details as the payment option.

David Black, a banking specialist at Consumer Intelligence, said that consumers could also “alleviate some of the pain” of surcharges by using a credit card that gives cashback, remembering to pay off the balance each month.

Despite a recent clampdown by the Government banning companies from charging credit or debit card fees amounting to more than the cost of processing the payment, firms have continued to flout the rules, particularly in the travel sector.

Which?, the consumer body behind a “super complaint” sent to the Office of Fair Trading in 2011 to highlight the exorbitant fees, said companies should charge no more than 2pc of transactions for credit cards and a few pence for debit cards. The regulator agreed that the fees were detrimental to consumers and that firms should be more open about the charges.

Often the fee is hidden until the end of the online booking process, making it harder for travellers to compare charges.

Credit card charges when buying flights abroad

Source: Skyscanner.net. *Based on a £100 one-way flight for one person due to airlines charging a percentage of the total costs or a minimum charge where applicable.

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