Avoid Being Ripped off by Ryanair’s Currency Conversion Scam

Jun 26, 2019

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Ryanair is Europe’s biggest airline by number of aircraft — it operates hundreds of routes from dozens of countries. While the airline is registered in Ireland, it now sells flights originating in various countries like Sweden, Morocco, Ukraine and Jordan.

Many airlines will sell a ticket in the currency of the country in which the flight originates. So a flight from Barcelona to London, for example, will be originally priced in euros, as that is the official currency of Spain, the originating country. When you book a flight like this on Ryanair.co.uk, it will initially do the same.

As I add in extras like seat selection and luggage, the price remains in euros.

But then when you get to the payment page, the rate suddenly — and without warning — switches from euros to pound sterling.

You might think, “Perfect, now I can pay with a credit card that earns points without paying the 2.99% foreign exchange fee”.

While that is true, there is one big issue. The currency conversion rate with which Ryanair has changed your euro rate to pounds is not even close to the market rate, allowing Ryanair to charge passengers who are unaware of this a lot more than they need to pay, with the airline pocketing the difference.

It’s only if you scroll through the payment methods, below the card option, that there is a tiny reference to the fact that Ryanair has changed the currency of your flight without warning.

So just how far off the market rate is Ryanair’s rate? The carrier says your 113.85 euro is worth £108.80, and you might expect that its rate is a percentage or two off…

… But in this example, you are paying around £7 more than than the market rate (around 7% more), which is far more than the 3% you are saving by paying in GBP.

Even if you earn 1.5 Avios per pound by paying with the British Airways Premium Plus Card from American Express UK, you will earn around 150 Avios (worth around £1.65 at TPG UK’s current valuations) and saving 2.99% foreign transaction fees, you’re still coming out behind by paying the 7% extra when Ryanair automatically converts the currency.

Is There a Solution?

Yes. If you click on the currency conversion ‘Click here for more information’ option under the card details, you can untick the box to change the amount back to the original currency.

You can then either choose to pay with a card that earns points noting it may charge a foreign transaction fee, however, the fee may be higher than the value of the points earned for doing so. Or you could pay with a travel debit card that does not impose a foreign transaction fee, like Monzo, Starling Bank or N26.

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