Credit card booking fees with Australian airlines

Booking a flight with a credit card usually attracts extra fees. Here’s what you need to know to keep costs to a minimum.

Credit cards are an incredibly popular way to pay for flights. As well as offering a fast and simple way to book travel, a credit card gives you the opportunity to pay off flight costs over an extended period of time. Credit cards also allow you to bypass travel agents and instantly book, buy and confirm a flight online without the hassle of speaking to anyone or printing out any tickets.

However, paying for flights with a card can also add to the cost of your travel plans, with most airlines and agencies applying a card booking fee to your ticket price. The good news is that you can minimise these fees.

What is a credit card booking fee?

A credit card booking fee is a type of surcharge that a merchant may charge when a customer pays with their credit card. Put simply, merchants are charged a percentage fee for accepting card payments. They can then choose to absorb this cost into their general pricing or directly pass it on to the customer.

By passing the cost on to the customer and stating that a surcharge will be imposed with certain card payments, the merchant allows customers to decide on their own payment method and whether or not they wish to pay the surcharge.

What are the credit card surcharges for Australian airlines?

While credit card booking fees may vary between airlines, they must all adhere to the RBA guidelines on surcharges. This means that the cost of paying with a credit card usually falls between 1% and 3% of the cost of your purchase, depending on the card and the airline you’re booking with. Current surcharges have been outlined in the following tables for each airline.


Booking made in Australia (per ticket, per card) Credit card surcharge Surcharge cap
Domestic and trans-Tasman 1.3% $11
International 1.3% $70

Virgin Australia

Booking made in Australia (per ticket, per card) Credit card surcharge Surcharge cap
Domestic and trans-Tasman 1.3% $11
International 1.3% $70


Booking made in Australia (per ticket, per card) Credit card surcharge Surcharge cap
Jetstar Airways (JQ) flight 1.06% -
Jetstar Asia (3K) flight $8.50 -


Booking made in Australia (per ticket, per card) Credit card surcharge Surcharge cap
Domestic 1.25% 1.33%
International 1.25% 1.33%


How to minimise credit card booking fees for flights

There are a number of payment options that allow you to reduce or avoid the credit card surcharge altogether. These include:

  • Debit cards. The surcharge for debit card payments is considerably lower, with Qantas and Virgin charging 0.6% for debit card payments and waiving this fee if you pay by debit card within seven days of the scheduled flight departure. Jetstar Airways (JQ) flights purchased with a debit card attract a 0.48% surcharge, while Tigerair charges 0.86% for purchases made with a Debit Mastercard and 0.88% for purchases made with a Visa debit card.
  • BPAY. Where available, paying via BPAY can also allow you to avoid additional fees. For instance, Qantas waives the surcharge when you pay via BPAY more than seven days before your scheduled flight departure.
  • Flight vouchers. Flight or credit vouchers are usually exempt from any surcharge.
  • Frequent flyer points. Similarly, you can avoid payment surcharges by paying with frequent flyer points. Note: Where you have to make up for missing points with cash (eg, Points + Pay with Qantas), a payment surcharge will still be applied to the cash component if you’re paying by credit card.
  • POLi. POLi is a service that lets you transfer funds directly from your bank account to the merchant, so it doesn’t attract a card payment fee. When it is available, POLi is an option you will find at checkout.
  • PayPal. This external payment service lets you store your credit card or bank account details on your PayPal account so you can make online payments without the hassle of having to enter your card details. PayPal usually attracts a lower surcharge than paying directly with a credit card. Jetstar charges 0.75% for JQ flights paid via PayPal, while Tigerair charges $4 per domestic flight and $6 per international flight per person. Virgin charges $5 for domestic flights, $7 for trans-Tasman and international short-haul flights and $23 for international long-haul flights.

Other factors to consider

The following are some important factors to also bear in mind:

  • Amex cards. Using an American Express credit card may be more expensive as the Amex surcharge is often higher. Always be sure to look out for any possible discrepancies before confirming your payment.
  • Travel agent bookings. Travel agents may apply a separate fee for credit card bookings, handling or administration. You can avoid those extra expenses by booking your own flights online or by enquiring about fees before you begin the booking process with a travel agent.
  • Credit card travel insurance. If you want to take advantage of any complimentary travel insurance available through your credit card, you’ll usually have to pay for your flights with your card in order to activate this cover. This means you’ll pay a credit card booking fee for your flights, so make sure you weigh up the benefits of complimentary cover with the cost of using your card before choosing an appropriate payment option.
  • Interest charges. When paying with your credit card, also consider any possible interest charges you may incur if you don’t repay your monthly balance in full and on time. These charges will also add to the cost of your travel plans.
  • Rewards points. An upside of using your credit card is the rewards points you could earn on these flight purchases, which can amount to a fair bit in terms of future reward redemptions. To assess if the benefits outweigh the costs, make a simple calculation to see how many points you’ll earn from the transaction and how it compares to the cost of the surcharge.

When choosing how to pay for flights, remember that the most appropriate and affordable option depends on your personal needs, preferences and lifestyle. When it comes to navigating credit card booking fees, the first step is to simply be aware of them so you can weigh up your payment options and choose the method that’s right for you.

Back to topPictures: Shutterstock

Amy Bradney-George

Amy is a senior writer at with more than 10 years experience covering credit cards, personal finance and various lifestyle topics. When she’s not sharing her knowledge on money matters, Amy spends her time as an actress.

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