Monday, August 8, 2011

Can you avoid Ryanair debit card charges?

I asked in my last post (Ryanair's new policy) if anybody had a way round the handling fees they charge on debit and credit card transactions. To recap these are the "sting in the tail" - the £6 fees they charge when you get to the end of the booking process and which are payable for each and every flight. So when I am booking a flight to an from Spain with my kids the charge is £48 for the privilege of paying for the flights I have booked.

Well one reader does not pay the charges because he has a Caxton FX debit card. He just pays Caxton a single fee of £1.50 per booking. I am sure most readers who use budget airlines are on the ball with this option and I am slightly embarrassed that it has taken me so long to get round to it particularly as I book a lot of flights with Ryanair.

On the face of it it definitely looks worth getting one of these cards or something similar. Looking at Caxton's site however it appears that new applicants will be issued with Visa cards and the Ryanair website it says their £6 fee is waived for "Mastercard prepaid debit cards". It would thus appear that Caxton cards, although good in lots of other respects, will no longer be good for saving the handling charges.

Searching online for these reveals a lot of alternatives to Caxton's card:

But all of these have their own fee structures and pros and cons. Do your research.

One thing to be aware of is that Ryanair will only accept payment in the currency the fare is quoted in. So if you are buying in the UK, you will be quoted in sterling and your card will have to be denominated in sterling (a lot of prepaid cards are in € or $ for travelling).

Is it that simple? Well Ryanair are famous for their extra charges and I can't see them happily watching everyone switch over to paying by prepaid cards. They have moved the goalposts once already (the Visa Electron always used to be their "free" option for payment). Also I have read some blog posts about Ryanair refusing Mastercards that meet their stated criteria:

Someone suggested this could be because the card name did not match the name of the lead passenger. Others suggest logging out of Ryanair, deleting your cookies (internet options) and starting again. So if you get a pre-paid Masrercard (and I think I will because the savings are so great for a regular booker) be prepared to continue to have to outwit our friends at Ryanair.

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