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Qantas is raising the credit card surcharge on international bookings from December 1st with the fee jumping from $25 to $30 per passenger.
This fee also applies to bookings made with debit cards and charge cards, so it’s effectively a 'plastic penalty' that can be avoided only if you book online and pay through BPAY.
(And don’t even think about booking through Qantas telephone sales, as the telephone booking alone will cost $90 before you even get to that $30 for using your credit card).
Qantas has previously come in for scrutiny over credit card fees charged for domestic flights and Christopher Zinn, spokesman for consumer group Choice, has slammed Qantas for excessive surcharges.
“The Reserve Bank permits (surcharging) under law and actually we think for quite good reasons, but the issue is that some of the surcharges are patently excessive” says Zinn, while also observing that many other counties do not have credit card surcharges.
“It is a gouge, it is a revenue stream (and) we say that’s not right, it’s not fair.”
Zinn says that “travel is an area in which Choice is getting more and more involved” and is working on the issue with the NSW Department of Fair Trading.
Even before this increase Qantas already held the dubious honour of levying Australia’s highest flat-rate surcharge on international flights.
By comparison to Qantas' pending $30 slug, Air New Zealand charges only $8 for credit card bookings for Australian passengers flying to New Zealand. Jetstar and Tiger apply a credit card fee of $10, Virgin Blue charges $12 and V Australia $15.
Singapore Airlines charges $25, although this is built into the fare as an unavoidable “Airline Fuel and Insurance Surcharge” whereas at least the Qantas fee can be avoided by using BPAY.
Cathay Pacific charges 3% of the final fare per booking.
And what are the actual fees charges by the card companies to the airlines?
The Australian Taxation Office, which allows for some payments to be made by credit card, lists these fees as a mere 0.65% for Visa and Mastercard and 1.25% for American Express, advising that this rate “is equal to the fee the ATO incurs from its banker.”