Sky's the limit for costly fees with Ryanair 'cash passport'
CHARGED if you do and charged if you don't. Ryanair yesterday launched a new prepaid cash card and, not surprisingly, it comes with a litany of fees involved in its use.
The Ryanair Cash Passport prepaid card will be the only way passengers in Ireland can avoid the airline's €6 administration fee on each flight booked from March 1 on.
Customers use the card by transferring money on to it in advance of making a purchase.
However, there are a host of costs associated with buying and using -- or not using -- the new card.
For starters, it costs €10 to buy -- although Ryanair said it would issue each cardholder a €10 travel voucher equivalent to this fee.
Consumers will then be hit with a €3 charge every time they load money on to the card online, while there is also annual government stamp duty of up to €5 on it.
Keeping the card for a once-yearly flight purchase is not a cheap option either -- because there's a €3 per month 'inactivity fee' debited from the card if you haven't used it for six months. And if you go into the red on the card, there's a negative balance fee of €15.
After you paying the initial €10 charge to buy the card and €3 charge to put money on to it, the card will be 'free' to use to make purchases from businesses which accept Mastercard.
However, withdrawing your money with it from an ATM will cost €2 a time in the eurozone and €5 a time outside -- and that is on top of any withdrawal fees charged by the ATM operator.
Purchases and withdrawals in currencies other than the euro will also be charged at the exchange rate of the day -- with an extra 5.75pc charged on top.
The Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI) said it was outrageous to charge people fees for not using a payment card, and they would write to the Government urgently calling on them to ban this practice in their forthcoming crackdown on excessive charges.
"It's a bit rich that they will be charging people fees for not spending their own money. Ryanair should be known as the low-cost, high-charge airline," said CAI chief executive Dermott Jewell.
He urged customers to make sure they were aware of all the charges associated with using this card before they bought one -- and to check if it made sense to cancel the card after use to avoid ongoing charges.
Irish customers who have been using Mastercard prepaid cards to avoid Ryanair administration fees will no longer be able to do so for bookings made from March 1 -- even though the new card is managed by Access Prepaid Worldwide, which is owned by Mastercard.
That means that, unless they now purchase the Ryanair card, they will also be hit with the €6 charge per person for each one-way flight already levied on bookings made with all other debit and credit cards.
A Ryanair spokesman said all charges for the card were fully transparent and were comparable with other prepaid cards. Ryanair introduced the Cash Passport card in the UK and Italy in September. These cards are available to purchase online via the Ryanair website.