The great credit-card crunch... or why firms squeeze us for extra fees
Sunday 01 March 2009
As the recession bites, retailers, airlines, entertainment firms and even government departments are increasingly imposing fees on consumers when they use their credit or debit cards to pay for goods and services.
Businesses have to pay fees between 0.7 and 1 per cent to provide Visa or Mastercard facilities to their customers. But firms are adding on further charges, seemingly to boost their profits.
Some of the most common booking fees are those charged when you buy tickets online or by phone. There are charges when buying tickets for plays, films and even ice-skating. Charges for more expensive tickets can be higher: those off to Glastonbury will have paid a minimum £5 booking fee. Online booking agents such as Ticketmaster and Seetickets routinely add on card-handling or order-processing fees. These cover the cost to the card firm, call-centre overheads, and website technology. Martin Fitzgerald of Seetickets says: "It's not so much a charge for using your card; it's a charge for the service we provide to enable you to buy the ticket."
Some of the highest card fees are in the airline sector. EasyJet, Ryanair and Flybe, among others, add several pounds to bookings paid by credit or debit cards. Jemma Smith from the UK Payments Association (Apacs) says: "The amount an airline is charged by the bank for a card facility is likely to be pence. They are passing on that cost, but others too, like their internal administration, and protection from fraudulent transactions. The problem is that the fees aren't transparent. As a customer, you just want to know – why?"
Even the DVLA will charge you a £2.50 flat fee for vehicle tax and licensing payments, BT charges £1.50 per month if you pay your phone bills by card, and you'll be hit on a bit of home decoration at Ikea, too, as it charges a 70p handling fee on all credit-card transactions. David Kuo of financial website The Motley Fool (Fool.co.uk) says: "It is outrageous that banks charge pennies for handling card transactions yet retailers bump the fee up to pounds. But the harsh reality is that when the tills aren't ringing loudly then shopkeepers have to use other tactics to increase revenues. The easiest way is to sting unsuspecting customers."
So how do you get out of paying the charges? When buying tickets, your only option – though not always a practical one – is to go to the box office in person. Opting for direct-debit payment can dodge fees, and using debit instead of credit cards usually reduces, if not avoids, charges. This is true for airlines, where debit-card charges are sometimes lower and using a Visa Electron can eliminate extra costs. But avoiding handling fees completely is becoming much more difficult.
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...
Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...
£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000