'Cash Passport' to avoid card charges on flights

Ryanair passengers will soon have to pay for flights using the airline's pre-paid payment method if they want to escape card charges.

Algarve Car Hire Faro airportThe no-frills airline announced on Tuesday that it is launching the 'Ryanair Cash Passport'.

And, from November, this will be the only way to avoid the extra fees, which could add up to £48 for a family of four buying return flights.

The law requires companies to provide at least one payment method that is free of charge to the customer. Unavoidable payment charges have to be included in the cover price.

Ryanair has drawn the fire of regulators and consumer groups who say it has made it increasingly difficult for customers to avoid charges that currently amount to £6 per person, each way.

Most companies allow free payment by debit card, while applying charges for credit cards.

However, Ryanair previously insisted that customers could only pay for free if they used Visa Electron, a relatively little-used pre-paid card. It later changed the rules so that only a pre-paid MasterCard would avoid the charges.

Now the change to Ryanair's own branded card  - also administered by MasterCard - will bring accusations that the airline is making customers jump through hoops in order to access free payments that the law intends to be easily available.

The Office of Fair Trading has already launched an investigation into airline card charges following a complaint by the consumer organisation Which?


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