Booking fee blow to passengers

Plane symbol

Visa Electron cardholders will no longer be able to escape the £5 booking fees on Ryanair flights from 1 January.

Instead, from 1 December these charges will be waived on MasterCard pre-paid cards, with the Visa Electron promotion ending one month later on 31 December.

The airline says MasterCard pre-paid cards are more widely available than Visa Electron – meaning more people will be able to benefit. 

“We are pleased to announce our new partnership with MasterCard, which will enable consumers to save even more when travelling on Ryanair’s unbeatable low fares,” says Stephen McNamara, spoksman for Ryanair.

Airlines provide booking fee offers in order to escape having to include these fees when advertising flight prices.

Ryanair has waived booking fees on Visa Electron card payments since 2003, but has always said this ‘special offer’ was only for a limited period. Passengers with Aer Lingus, BMIbaby, easyJet and Flybe have also been able to escape booking fees by paying with Visa Electron.

However, many banks have phased out their Visa Electron offerings. In addition, this type of card tends to be offered alongside basic bank accounts only.

MasterCard pre-paid cards, meanwhile, are more widely available. However, users have to top this type of card up with cash before they can use it to spend with. In addition, they may face application fees, monthly charges, card loading fees and ATM withdrawal charges.

On the plus side, all you need to take out a pre-paid card is proof of your identity and your address – there are no credit checks.

You can load your card with cash at participating locations, or via bank transfer, and use it to withdraw money at ATMs, or make payments at millions of retailers worldwide and over the internet.