couple using credit card

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 logo

Before 1 Sep 2016

Booking type Debit/prepaid cards Credit/charge cards
Australian Domestic $2.50 $7
Australian Trans-Tasman $2.50 $7
Australian international $10 $30

After 1 Sep 2016

Booking type Debit/prepaid cards Credit/charge cards Fee cap
Australian Domestic 0.6% 1.3% $11
Australian Trans-Tasman 0.6% 1.3% $11
Australian international 0.6% 1.3% $70

How you can avoid card payment fees with Qantas

  • POLi
  • Debit/prepaid including Qantas Travel Money
  • 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 type Credit, debit and PayPal
Domestic $7.70
Trans-Tasman $11.00
International $30.00

After 1 Sep 2016

Flight type Credit Debit PayPal Fee cap
Domestic and trans-Tasman 1.3% per booking 0.6% per booking $5 per booking $11.00
International short haul 1.3% per booking 0.6% $5 per booking $70.00
International long haul 1.3% per booking 0.6% $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

Before 1 Sep 2016

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

After 1 Sep 2016

Card type % charge
Mastercard Credit 1.06%
Mastercard Debit 1.06%
Visa Credit 0.48%
Visa Debit 0.48%
PayPal 0.75%

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 type Credit and debit booking fee PayPal booking fee Latitude 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 Credit 1.25%
Mastercard Debit 0.86%
Visa Credit 1.33%
Visa Debit 0.88%

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 December 12th, 2018
Name Product Bonus Points Rewards Program Rewards Points per $ spent Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Product Description
Qantas Premier Platinum
100,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$149 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter)
Get 70,000 bonus Qantas points when you meet the spend criteria and 30,000 more when you pay the second year's annual fee (100,000 total).
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Qantas - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($249 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive ends 12 December 2018:
Up to 90,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the criteria with this dual Visa (issued & serviced by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
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 points in the first 3 months and save with a $64 first year annual fee. Plus, a long-term balance transfer offer.
Qantas Premier Everyday
20,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
0% p.a. for 9 months (reverts to 19.99% p.a.)
$49 p.a.
Take advantage of 20,000 bonus Qantas Points, a 0% p.a. purchase and balance transfer offers. Plus, complimentary overseas travel insurance.
HSBC Platinum Qantas Credit Card
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($79 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a $0 first year annual fee and a long-term balance transfer offer. Plus, complimentary travel insurance.
Westpac Altitude Platinum Card - Qantas
60,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
20.24% p.a.
$50 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($200 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 60,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $3,000 within 90 days of card approval. Plus, a $50 first year annual fee.
St.George Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days and 2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.
Virgin Australia Velocity High Flyer Card
90,000 bonus points
Velocity Frequent Flyer
1
20.74% p.a.
$289 p.a.
Take off sooner with up to 90,000 bonus Velocity Points, lounge passes and insurance covers. Plus, enjoy a 15 month balance transfer offer.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle - Qantas
120,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1.25
0.75
20.24% p.a.
$499 p.a.
Up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex). T&Cs apply.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Exclusive Offer
Velocity Frequent Flyer
0.66
0% p.a. for 14 months (reverts to 20.74% p.a.)
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive: Save on credit card costs with half the annual fee for the first year and a 0% p.a. interest rate on purchases for 14 months.
NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card
90,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
1
19.99% p.a.
$295 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($395 p.a. thereafter)
Earn Qantas Points on your everyday spending, take advantage of complimentary overseas travel insurance and a 24/7 concierge service.
American Express Westpac Altitude Platinum Bundle - Exclusive Offer
90,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
2
1
20.24% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($199 p.a. thereafter)
finder Exclusive ends 12 December 2018:
$0 first year annual fee & up to 90,000 bonus Altitude Pts when you meet T&C with Visa (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex).
American Express Explorer Credit Card
100,000 bonus points
Membership Rewards Gateway
2
20.74% p.a.
$395 p.a.
Get 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, a yearly $400 Travel Credit and 2 entries per year to the American Express Lounge.
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit Card - Online Offer
60,000 bonus points
Suncorp Bank Rewards Program
1.25
20.74% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Save with a 0% balance transfer offer and earn up to 60,000 Bonus Rewards Points. Plus, a discounted first year annual fee when you apply online.
St.George Amplify Signature - Online Offer
100,000 bonus points
Amplify Rewards
1.5
19.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Enjoy a $0 first year annual fee, 100,000 bonus Amplify Points and 2 complimentary lounge passes per year. Ends 17 December 2018.
Westpac Altitude Black - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
20.24% p.a.
$300 p.a.
Earn 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you meet the spend requirement. Plus, 2 yearly Qantas Club lounge invitations.
American Express Westpac Altitude Black Bundle
120,000 bonus points
Westpac Altitude Rewards
3
1.25
20.24% p.a.
$449 p.a.
Up to 120,000 bonus Altitude Points with Mastercard (issued by Westpac) & Amex (issued & serviced by Amex). T&Cs apply.
St.George Amplify Platinum - Qantas
50,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.5
19.49% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn 50,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $2,000 within 90 days and earn 0.5 Qantas points per $1 spent.
BankSA Amplify Signature - Qantas
80,000 bonus points
Qantas Frequent Flyer
0.75
19.49% p.a.
$179 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($279 p.a. thereafter)
Receive 80,000 bonus Qantas Points when you spend $4,000 within 90 days. Plus, a discounted first year annual fee and lounge passes.

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 and frequent flyer expert by day and music maven by night.

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Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Suncorp Clear Options Platinum Credit...

Interest rate

20.74

Annual fee

49*

*$129 p.a. after first year

American Express Westpac Altitude Pla...

Interest rate

20.24

Annual fee

50*

*$249 p.a. after first year

NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card

Interest rate

19.99

Annual fee

295*

*$395 p.a. after first year

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