12 Jan

What you need to know about card charges

From 13th January, businesses will not be able to charge fees for taking payment by personal debit and credit cards when selling their goods and services.

This is not just affecting the travel industry, it is affecting all businesses in the UK and EEA.

Here is ABTA’s expert advice on what these changes to card charges mean for customers.

Can I be charged a fee to pay with my debit or credit card?

No, you can no longer be charged for specifically paying by a credit or debit card.

However, your travel company may choose to charge a booking fee. If that’s the case, this will apply to all payment methods.

You can still be charged a fee if you pay by corporate credit card.

My travel company is refusing to allow me to pay by card, can they do this?

Yes, under the new rules the UK government has said it is ok for companies to refuse to accept credit or debit cards.

I’m a bit concerned that I’ve been asked to pay by bank transfer instead of credit card. What should I do?

As businesses can no longer recover the costs of processing card payments, you may be asked to pay by bank transfer.

You could ask your travel company to give you their bank details both verbally and in writing (e.g. by email) to double-check. Be careful when making the payment to enter the sort code and account number correctly. Follow any instructions from your travel company such as providing your booking reference with your payment.  

I believe I’ve been charged a credit card fee, what do I do?

Ask the company if it was a booking fee that applies to all bookings, or a fee for paying by card. Booking fees applied to all types of payment are permitted. If it was a card fee, ask that it is refunded to you, as this is required by the new law.

If you need further help, you can speak to your local Trading Standards department. If an ABTA Member charges a card fee, we will investigate for you.

Does the ban on card charges apply to existing bookings?

The ban applies to bookings entered into after 18 July 2017 and payments made after 13 January 2018.

Does the ban on card fees apply to business travel?

If a corporate card is used to make payment, then a fee can still be charged. This must be limited to an amount that covers the trader’s costs of processing card payments. If a personal card is used for payment, the ban on card fees applies.

Why won’t my travel company accept debit cards? They are like cash and there’s no cost to the trader of accepting them.

That’s not true. The position has changed over the past couple of years and debit cards can be quite expensive for businesses to accept.

Can I be charged a fee to pay by other means e.g. PayPal, cash, cheque?

Payment by PayPal and Apple Pay is also covered by the new law so can’t attract a specific fee. Although you can still be charged a booking or service fee. This is legal as long as it’s applied to all payment methods, and hasn’t just been added because you chose to pay by PayPal or Apple Pay.