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Ryanair: Use our debit card or pay fee

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  September 16, 2011 12:19 PM

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Ryanair, one of the pioneers of the low-price-but-fees-for-everything model, has found a way to add insult to injury.

Starting in November, the only way to avoid an "administrative'' fee of about $9.50 per flight for booking a ticket on Ryanair is to use the Irish airline's own prepaid MasterCard debit card. Since the fee is levied per flight, a round-trip doubles that charge and if you need to make connections you'll pay a fee for each leg.

For quite some time, Ryanair has been charging passengers who fail to pay for tickets with a prepaid Mastercard an administrative fee. But now the carrier will hit up travelers if they use any other kind of plastic than the Ryanair-branded card, which they call a Cash Passport.

Annoying, yes? Americans might look at this and just shrug their shoulders but Ryanair has been at the forefront of fee creation and many of the levies it has created have been adopted by US carriers.

The special cards will be sold on the airline's website for about $9.50, but the airline is offering to reimburse customers for that amount with -- you guessed it -- a Ryanair travel voucher. The prepaid card can be used for other purchases, but users will face a charge of about 80 cents for each such transaction, and the carrier will get a cut of that, according to AOL Travel.

British regulators are looking at whether businesses should be able to charge fees for credit card use. So stay tuned.

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