How to avoid credit card booking fees on flights

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What you’ll pay when booking a flight with your credit card and how you can avoid excessive surcharge fees.

In May 2016, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that it would be banning excessive flat-rate surcharges on credit card payments as of 1 September. While a number of institutions were guilty of charging exorbitant credit card surcharges, airlines such as Qantas and Virgin were especially targeted by the RBA.

Now that the surcharge ban has come in place, we now know exactly what you’ll have to pay if you’re using your credit card to book your next flight. Better yet, we’ve highlighted the different ways you can avoid surcharges altogether. (All figures are in Australian dollars.)

Qantasqantas-ff-logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeDebit/prepaid cards Credit/charge cards
Australian Domestic$2.50$7
Australian Trans-Tasman$2.50$7
Australian international$10$30

After 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeDebit/prepaid cards Credit/charge cards Fee cap
Australian Domestic0.6%1.3%$11
Australian Trans-Tasman0.6%1.3%$11
Australian international0.6%1.3%$70

How you can avoid card payment fees with Qantas

  • POLi
  • Debit/prepaid including Qantas Cash
  • BPAY for bookings made at least 7 days before departure
  • Qantas UATP
  • Credit voucher

Before the surcharge ban, some of Qantas’ surcharges were 383% larger than the cost it took to process a credit card payment. Compare how you’ll save (or not) with the new credit card surcharges in contrast to Qantas’ old booking fees.

Virgin AustraliaVirgin Australia Logo_PMS_NEW

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking type Credit, debit and PayPal
Domestic$7.70
Trans-Tasman$11.00
International$30.00

After 1 Sep 2016

Flight type Credit DebitPayPal Fee cap
Domestic and trans-Tasman1.3% per booking0.6% per booking$5 per booking$11.00
International short haul1.3% per booking0.6%$5 per booking$70.00
International long haul1.3% per booking0.6%$5 per booking$70.00

How you can avoid credit card payment fees when booking with Virgin Australia

  • POLi
  • Gift voucher

You can compare how Virgin Australia’s booking fees have changed and what you’ll pay for specific routes here.

Jetstarjetstar-logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeBooking fee (debit and credit)
International$8.50
Domestic$8.50 to $12.50

After 1 Sep 2016

Card type % charge
MasterCard Credit1.06%
MasterCard Debit1.06%
Visa Credit0.48%
Visa Debit0.48%
PayPal0.75%

How to avoid credit card surcharges with Jetstar

Out of the four major Australian airlines, it’s clear that Jetstar has the most competitive surcharge rates on the market following the 1 September reforms, but you can use the following strategies to avoid the surcharges.

Avoid surcharges with bookings made in Australian dollars using:

  • Direct deposit
  • POLi
  • Voucher
  • Jetstar MasterCard or Jetstar Platinum MasterCard

Are you booking a flight with Jetstar? See our full rundown of what you’ll pay when booking your next flight.

TigerairTigerair-Australia-Logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeCredit and debit booking feePayPal booking feeLatitude interest free booking fee
Domestic$8.50$4.00$10.00
International$12.50$6.00$10.00

After 1 Sep 2016

Card type% charge
MasterCard Credit1.25%
MasterCard Debit0.86%
Visa Credit1.33%
Visa Debit0.88%

Previously, you could use an Australian-issued MasterCard debit card to avoid the surcharges. As of 1 September 2016, this is no longer the case. You can compare the current ways you can avoid surcharges with Tiger Air below.

How to avoid booking surcharges with Tiger Air

  • Book your Tigerair flight through the official mobile app using an Australian-issued debit MasterCard
  • Velocity Points
  • POLi

Read more information on how the new Tiger Air booking fees will work.

While the RBA’s credit card surcharge ban was designed to stop airlines and other institutions from charging exorbitant surcharge fees, some of the fee caps mean you’ll be spending more than when the flat-rate booking fee was applied. If don’t want to pay any surcharges, make sure you understand the different options available (aside from credit card, debit card and PayPal) that don’t charge a booking fee.

How much less will you pay on new airline credit card surcharges?

Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist at finder.com.au who is a credit cards and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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Credit Cards Comparison

Rates last updated September 27th, 2016
Purchase rate (p.a.) Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Annual fee
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Enjoy a 0% p.a. balance transfer offer for 18 months and also earn 2 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on everyday spend.
20.74% p.a. 0% p.a. for 18 months $64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter) Go to site More info
ME Bank frank Credit Card
Enjoy a low and consistent interest rate on purchases and cash advances, combined with no annual fee.
11.99% p.a. $0 p.a. Go to site More info
St.George Vertigo Visa
Introductory offer of 0% p.a. for 18 months on balance transfers and 1% p.a. for 12 months on purchases, plus a low annual fee.
1% p.a. for 12 months (reverts to 13.24% p.a.) 0% p.a. for 18 months $55 p.a. Go to site More info
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
Receive a full annual fee refund and save $149 if you meet the $6,000 spend requirement. Enjoy a balance transfer offer and platinum card benefits such as complimentary insurances and concierge services.
19.99% p.a. 0% p.a. for 15 months $149 p.a. Go to site More info

* The credit card offers compared on this page are chosen from a range of credit cards CreditCardFinder.com.au has access to track details from and is not representative of all the products available in the market. Products are displayed in no particular order or ranking. The use of terms 'Best' and 'Top' are not product ratings and are subject to our disclaimer. You should consider seeking independent financial advice and consider your own personal financial circumstances when comparing cards.

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