Emirates introduces credit card surcharge in Australia, New Zealand

By Chris C., July 19 2016
Emirates introduces credit card surcharge in Australia, New Zealand

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The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Emirates customers in Australia and New Zealand will now be slugged a 1.5% surcharge when paying for their Emirates flights using a credit card.

Capped at a maximum of A$70 per passenger per booking for journeys beginning in Australia and NZ$70 per passenger per booking for those originating in New Zealand, it’s a completely new fee for the airline which until recently had not applied a surcharge to credit card transactions.

For instance, pay for a $2,500 booking by Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Diners Club and you'll face a fee of $37.50 (at 1.5%), while tickets totalling $4,666 or more attract the fixed $70 charge.

Payments made using debit cards such as Visa Debit and Debit MasterCard – including Qantas Cash and Velocity Global Wallet – are exempted from the surcharge, which applies only to genuine credit card payments.

Update: A previous version of this article noted that Emirates processes Australian dollar payments in the UAE, and as a result, some Australian credit cards may apply a foreign transaction fee to these purchases.

This was based on advice presented in the 'Help Centre' area of Emirates.com (payment rule #3), although the airline has since advised Australian Business Traveller that payments in Australian dollars are also processed via an Australian merchant facility, not in the UAE, which helps to avoid additional bank-levied charges to customers.

How to avoid Emirates’ credit card surcharge

While choosing your credit card carefully can help to slash transaction costs charged by your own bank, there are two easy ways to skirt the 1.5% surcharge levied by Emirates while still using your credit card to pay the bill.

Instead of clicking ‘credit card’ on the Emirates payment screen, simply select ‘Visa Checkout’ instead:

Despite the name, Visa Checkout isn’t just for Visa cards – you can also use MasterCard and American Express cards to make your payment, all of which are processed surcharge-free:

Your other option is to select ‘PayPal’, through which you can use Visa or MasterCard to settle your bill, again with no surcharge.

Just note that while American Express is usually welcome wherever PayPal is accepted, Emirates doesn’t accept AMEX (or Diners Club) via its PayPal system:

To use AMEX, choose Visa Checkout instead – or pay the airline directly if you’re not fazed by the 1.5% fee which applies to all card types and all passengers, regardless of travel class or fare type.

Travellers booking Emirates flights through Qantas will instead pay Qantas' own credit card surcharge and will usually have their transaction processed in Australia to help prevent additional bank-imposed fees.

Also read: Qantas hikes credit card booking fee for business class flyers

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter:  we're @AusBT


Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

The information provided on this page is purely factual and general in nature. You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Chris C.

A former contributor to Executive Traveller, Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

17 Jun 2011

Total posts 65

Since when do new credit card surcharges receive a 'launch'?

This almost beats a Qantas 'enhancement'

24 Apr 2012

Total posts 2534

Hi mrmaxwell, that's a good point (there was certainly no red carpet party for the 'launch'!) – 'introduces' is more apt and we've updated our headline.


Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 739

EK can't help it if it just oozes Style...

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 482

How many customers would look at the Visa Checkout option and think - I can't use my MC or AMEX with that option..? 

Has Visa done a deal with Emirates to try and get people to use a Visa card? 

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

02 Sep 2014

Total posts 17

QF, VA, and now EK... Let's see who will be next...

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

its only a matter of time before SQ joins the pack...they're usually the last of the major carriers to add fees (like with the exit row seats a few years back)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 506

Possibly Chinese carriers will join the pack next. Pax wouldn't mind coughing up some dough since they already have quite a lot of it.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

21 Mar 2013

Total posts 136

I imagine booking through the likes of Expedia is another way to avoid the surcharge (albeit losing some of the associated benefits that come with booking through the airline directly)

Skywards Gold

21 Apr 2011

Total posts 54

1. Chris, are you sure about the overseas transaction charge? I have a feeling you might be mistaken on this one. For itineraries deparitng from AUS, they will be billed in AUD and the exact AUD amount you see at check out should appear on your card. If you purchase an itinerary departing from outside AUS you will get billed in local currency and slugged with the conversion fees on your CC if applicable. If I recall correctly Emirates also have an option to change the currency you pay in - although this may not yield the best FX rates.

2. "The RBA gave credit card companies the go-ahead to put a stop to excessive surcharging back in March 2013, but the practice continues." 

"?The banks are required to work with the merchants and auditors to assess the merchant's cost of card acceptance. If their surcharges are found to be excessive in relation to their costs, they will have a period of time to comply with the rules," said Kalra (from VISA), adding, "we will keep working with the banks over the next few months and monitor the effect on surcharging levels."

Visa even set up an email address, [email protected], through which consumers can provide names and locations of retailers applying excessive surcharges to Visa transactions along with the amount of the surcharge.

Chris - can you take this up with Visa on behalf of all of us? 1.5% is clearly excessive. I've had some exposure to card fees and know first hand that its not that high.

Furthere I wonder if there are any implications with the Citi Card holders who are entitled to benefits if booking on the card but now they get slugged with a new fee. They should make it free for Citi Emirates card holders.

21 Aug 2015

Total posts 86

Why am I not surprised? Smells fishy to me, just like good old "rip off the customers QF" 


It wouldn't be collusion would it?

Where is the ACCC?...........


20 Jul 2016

Total posts 1

I have been skywards member since year 2000 and have so much skywards. Unfortunately Emirates is getting very greedy and disappointing in many decisions taken lately.


20 Jul 2016

Total posts 1

seems to me that every time Qantas signs up a partner airline within a short time the fees/charges/FF points of the joining airline for redemption change to suit Qantas.   When MAS joined Oneworld, soon after the points required for travel redemption increased considerably, as I recall so did Emirates.    Qantas have now changed their fees and guess what, so has Emirates.   Qantas seems to have some form of influence on these partners to the detriment of FF members. 

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