Page last updated at 15:29 GMT, Monday, 30 November 2009

Ryanair changes card charging policy

Ryanair plane
Ryanair charges for payment with most types of cards

Ryanair is swapping the only type of card that can be used to avoid a charge when booking a flight with the airline.

Users of the Mastercard Prepaid card will not be charged the £5 per person administration charge levied on other card users from 1 December.

People using a Visa Electron will face a charge for the first time from 1 January when booking a Ryanair flight.

The UK Cards Association said that about 1.7 million people in the UK have a Mastercard or Visa prepaid card.

These are topped up before use and are branded, unlike the prepayment cards often bought as gifts.

Users can also face monthly charges, set-up fees, and cash withdrawal levies, although there is no credit check required to own one.

"Mastercard Prepaid cards are widely available across Europe from financial institutions and online," said Stephen McNamara from Ryanair.

Phased out

The BBC reported on Saturday that the Visa Electron payment service was being phased out by two major suppliers.

Customers who pay by Visa Electron are currently not charged transaction fees by airlines such as Ryanair, Aer Lingus, BMIbaby, Easyjet and Flybe.

Several airlines charge a flat fee transaction charge per person, per flight, when customers pay by other debit or credit cards.

Consumer groups say that if airlines do not have one free payment option, they would have to increase their advertised headline prices to include the charge for making the payment.

Advertising Standards Authority rules state where an advert shows a price it should include all non-optional charges.

The Office of Fair Trading says, if the charges are unavoidable and foreseeable, they should be included in the headline price.

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