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How to avoid credit card booking fees on flights

What you’ll pay when booking a flight with your credit card and how you can avoid excessive surcharge fees.

In May 2016, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) announced that it would be banning excessive flat-rate surcharges on credit card payments as of 1 September. While a number of institutions were guilty of charging exorbitant credit card surcharges, airlines such as Qantas and Virgin were especially targeted by the RBA.

Now that the surcharge ban has come in place, we now know exactly what you’ll have to pay if you’re using your credit card to book your next flight. Better yet, we’ve highlighted the different ways you can avoid surcharges altogether. (All figures are in Australian dollars.)

qantas-new-logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeDebit/prepaid cardsCredit/charge cards
Australian Domestic$2.50$7
Australian Trans-Tasman$2.50$7
Australian international$10$30

After 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeDebit/prepaid cardsCredit/charge cardsFee cap
Australian Domestic0.6%1.3%$11
Australian Trans-Tasman0.6%1.3%$11
Australian international0.6%1.3%$70

How you can avoid card payment fees with Qantas

  • POLi
  • Debit/prepaid including Qantas Cash
  • BPAY for bookings made at least 7 days before departure
  • Qantas UATP
  • Credit voucher

Before the surcharge ban, some of Qantas' surcharges were 383% larger than the cost it took to process a credit card payment. Compare how you'll save (or not) with the new credit card surcharges in contrast to Qantas' old booking fees.

Virgin Australia Logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeCredit, debit and PayPal
Domestic$7.70
Trans-Tasman$11.00
International$30.00

After 1 Sep 2016

Flight typeCreditDebitPayPalFee cap
Domestic and trans-Tasman1.3% per booking0.6% per booking$5 per booking$11.00
International short haul1.3% per booking0.6%$5 per booking$70.00
International long haul1.3% per booking0.6%$5 per booking$70.00

How you can avoid credit card payment fees when booking with Virgin Australia

  • POLi
  • Gift voucher

You can compare how Virgin Australia's booking fees have changed and what you'll pay for specific routes here.

jetstar logo 2017

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeBooking fee (debit and credit)
International$8.50
Domestic$8.50 to $12.50

After 1 Sep 2016

Card type% charge
Mastercard Credit1.06%
Mastercard Debit1.06%
Visa Credit0.48%
Visa Debit0.48%
PayPal0.75%

How to avoid credit card surcharges with Jetstar

Out of the four major Australian airlines, it's clear that Jetstar has the most competitive surcharge rates on the market following the 1 September reforms, but you can use the following strategies to avoid the surcharges.

Avoid surcharges with bookings made in Australian dollars using:

  • Direct deposit
  • POLi
  • Voucher
  • Jetstar Mastercard or Jetstar Platinum Mastercard

Are you booking a flight with Jetstar? See our full rundown of what you'll pay when booking your next flight.

Tiger Air logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking typeCredit and debit booking feePayPal booking feeLatitude interest free booking fee
Domestic$8.50$4.00$10.00
International$12.50$6.00$10.00

After 1 Sep 2016

Card type% charge
Mastercard Credit1.25%
Mastercard Debit0.86%
Visa Credit1.33%
Visa Debit0.88%

Previously, you could use an Australian-issued Mastercard debit card to avoid the surcharges. As of 1 September 2016, this is no longer the case. You can compare the current ways you can avoid surcharges with Tiger Air below.

How to avoid booking surcharges with Tiger Air

  • Book your Tigerair flight through the official mobile app using an Australian-issued debit Mastercard
  • Velocity Points
  • POLi

Find out how the new Tiger Air booking fees will work.

While the RBA's credit card surcharge ban was designed to stop airlines and other institutions from charging exorbitant surcharge fees, some of the fee caps mean you'll be spending more than when the flat-rate booking fee was applied. If don't want to pay any surcharges, make sure you understand the different options available (aside from credit card, debit card and PayPal) that don't charge a booking fee.

How much less will you pay on new airline credit card surcharges?

Compare frequent flyer credit cards

Rates last updated May 21st, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
60,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer


0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$199 p.a.
Receive 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 3 months of card approval, plus enjoy complimentary travel insurance.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
100,000 bonus points
Citi Rewards Program


1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer, a discounted first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Black
75,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($425 p.a. thereafter)
Get 75,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement, a $0 first year annual fee & 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club invitations.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - 0% Interest Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer


0.66
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$129 p.a.
Buy now and pay later with 0% p.a. interest on purchases for 14 months. Plus, 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 6 months.
St.George Amplify Platinum
50,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Amplify Point per $1 spent.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer


0.66
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 18 months. $64 in the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter), plus, bonus Velocity Points.
Bank of Melbourne Amplify Platinum
50,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn 50,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas Points or 1 Amplify Point per $1 spent.
ANZ Frequent Flyer Platinum
65,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($295 p.a. thereafter)
Receive 65,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,500 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months. Plus, a $0 annual fee for the first year.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
Citi Rewards Program


1
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn reward Points per $1 spent, take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 26 month balance transfer offer, plus complimentary international travel insurance.
American Express Explorer Credit Card
50,000 bonus points
Membership Rewards Gateway


2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Receive 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
Qantas American Express Discovery Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Qantas Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
55,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1.5
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Receive 55,000 bonus Qantas Points, a $450 Qantas Travel Credit each year and 2 yearly complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations.
ANZ Frequent Flyer
25,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($95 p.a. thereafter)
Get 25,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the offer criteria and save with a $0 first year annual fee. Plus, uncapped Qantas Points potential.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
100,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


1
19.99% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Earn Qantas Points on your everyday spending, take advantage of complimentary overseas travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
American Express Velocity Escape Card
Velocity Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Earn uncapped Velocity Points on purchases, pay $0 annual fee for life and take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 12 months balance transfer offer.
BankSA Amplify Signature
90,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Receive 90,000 bonus Amplify or Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and earn up to 1.5 Amplify or 0.75 Qantas points per $1 spent.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.75
19.49% p.a.
$279 p.a.
Receive 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and receive two complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
St.George Amplify Card
Amplify Rewards / Qantas Frequent Flyer


0.5
19.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 3% p.a. interest on balance transfers for 36 months. Plus, a $0 first year annual fee and Amplify or Qantas Points per $1 spent.
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card - 80k Bonus Points offer
80,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer


1
20.74% p.a.
$289 p.a.
Take off sooner with up to 80,000 bonus Velocity Points and earn up to 1 Velocity Point per $1 spent. Plus, a 15 month balance transfer offer.

Compare up to 4 providers

Pictures: Shutterstock

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is an editor at finder.com.au who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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