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Ryanair launches 'prepay card'

Ryanair customers will have to use the company's own Mastercard in order to avoid paying a £6 booking fee, from the beginning of October.

At the moment Ryanair charges anyone who use a debit or credit card with an 'admin fee' of £6 per one-way flight.

It had previously been possible to avoid the charge by using a Visa Electron card, but from October 4 passengers will only be able to use its prepaid Mastercard, the Ryanair Cash Passport.

The new development seems to quite literally fly in the face of the Office of Fair Trading findings that all surcharges should be abolished, and that customers should pay the face price for their ticket.

The prepaid card is not like a normal credit card, as it has to be loaded with money in advance in order to pay for things. Only 5 percent of the population currently hold one.

In response to the news Martin Lewis of website MoneySavingExpert.com said: 'This is anti-competitive, it's an insult to loyal passengers who first got Electron cards so they could pay for free, then were forced to switch to prepaid Mastercards and are now being asked to dance again this time by getting Ryanair's own prepaid card.'

'Quite simply, Ryanair must be forced to include the booking fee in its headline price – this is not a voluntary fee – it's part of core pricing,' Lewis added.

But a spokesperson for Ryanair said that the launch of the new card was no snub to the OFT but had 'been in pipeline' for some time.

He said: 'We have suffered from criticism for some time that customers do not know where to get prepaid Mastercards. So we decided that to make it easier for customers they could start getting them from our website.'

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