Britain to ban 'hidden' card fees
Fees for using credit or debit cards to buy items such as airline tickets online will be banned by the end of next year under plans announced by the British government on Friday.
The move comes after complaints that airlines, entertainment ticket booking agencies and some councils were imposing excessive "hidden" charges for using a card which can sometimes be as high as £20 ($31, 24 euros).
For example, low-cost airline Ryanair charges £6 per person, per leg, for the use of most cards and British Airways charge £4.50 per booking by credit card.
The majority of such fees are added at the final stage of online transactions.
Treasury Minister Mark Hoban said consumers should be able to see "up front" how much they will have to pay.
He said the government would put the plans to consultation early next year and hoped to have the ban in place by the end of the year.
Businesses will still be able to add a small charge to cover the cost of a payment method but will be banned from adding excessive fees.
Hoban said: "We want consumers to be able to shop around. They have a right to understand the charges they may incur up front and not be hit through a hidden last-minute payment surcharge."
Britain's Office of Fair Trading estimates that last year consumers spent around £300 million on payment surcharges in the airline sector alone.
© 2011 AFP