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What’s new in the debate over debit card charges when booking a flight?

We’ve all watched the price of a ‘cheap flight’ double as we go through the airline’s online menu, but two of the most frustrating add-ons are the charges for luggage, and the extra charge you pay for using your debit card. Concerning the latter, the campaign against debit card fees by Which? triggered an Office of Fair Trading investigation through the launch of a ‘super-complaint’ in March, reports the Daily Mail.

Three months later, the OFT concluded that these surcharges are misleading and detrimental to consumers, and recommended the Government introduce measures to stop retailers from imposing surcharges for payments made by debit card. According to the OFT, an existing UK law, the Payment Services Regulations (PSR), would cover a ban on surcharges.

Despite the OFT’s ruling that the fees charged for the use of debit cards on airline websites should be outlawed, two major European carriers, Swiss Air and Lufthansa, are introducing new fees of £4.50 for purchases made by debit or credit card as of November 2, in blatant defiance of the fair trading watchdog’s decision. Other airlines have changed the name to escape a crackdown, so for the moment at least, we’ll continue to pay a charge to use our debit cards when paying for a flight online.

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