Tigerair’s new credit card surcharges: Cheaper for most, but no more free debit Mastercard bookings

Posted: 1 September 2016 7:22 am

Well, unless you use a particularly sneaky trick.

Tigerair's new credit charge surcharges will result in lower prices for most passengers, but one of its options for avoiding them entirely has been eliminated.

All airlines have been forced to reduce excessive credit card surcharges as of today (1 September), and can only charge a fee that reflects the actual cost of processing those cards. Previously, Tigerair charged $8.50 per passenger per sector if you booked using a credit card. You could pay a lower $4 per sector by using PayPal, or avoid charges altogether by using an Australian-issued debit Mastercard.

From today, Tigerair will instead charge a percentage fee of your total fare. The fees vary slightly across different types of cards. Here's the breakdown:

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

Note that debit Mastercard, while still the cheapest option, is no longer fee-free. There is one sneaky workaround: if you book a Tigerair flight through its official mobile app and use an Australian-issued debit Mastercard, you won't be hit with a surcharge. We'd expect that will change the next time the app is updated, but for now it's a workable loophole.

Bookings made using Velocity points don't attract a charge. Bookings through POLi are also surcharge-free.

If you're booking a basic fare, you'll almost certainly be better off with the percentage fees. That's the case even though the percentage will be applied to the total booking, including any baggage, insurance and meal orders.

Let's assume you were paying with a Visa credit card, which attracts a 1.33% surcharge fee. You'd have to spend $639 on a one-way flight for that surcharge to be more than $8.50. That would virtually impossible on a domestic flight, though it's a slim possibility with a last-minute short-haul international booking.

Conversely, PayPal now looks less attractive for most bookings. For any booking under $300, it would be cheaper to use a Visa credit card than to pay the $4 fee for PayPal.

Tigerair's percentages are lower than those charged by Qantas and Virgin, which announced their price changes ahead of time. Tigerair didn't take up that option, only unveiling its fees when 1 September rolled around. (A note on its site points out that "from 2am - 9:30am on the 1st of September booking tax invoices will show Card Payment Fees as Booking and Service Fees", suggesting the change was very last-minute.) Rival budget carrier Jetstar has slightly lower charges.

Airline credit card surcharges: what's changing

Picture: superjoseph / Shutterstock.com

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