Ryanair are inflating flight fares with “rip-off” currency exchange rates

Consumer watchdog have asked CAA to investigate Ryanair’s use of dynamic currency conversion when selling flights, claiming this inflates air fares by up to 6%.

Ryanair B737-800
Ryanair B737-800 (c) Adrian Pingstone

Ryanair customers are being urged not to get caught out this summer by the airline’s “rip off” travel money rates. Thousands of holidaymakers could end up paying more than they need to for their flight.

This is because Ryanair’s own currency conversion rates may increase the amount you end up paying out for your holiday thanks to dynamic currency conversion – a system which allows vendors to set their own exchange rate.

Also read: Should I pay in local currency or pound sterling?

How Ryanair’s currency conversion rate may increase the fare

Ryanair’s fares are shown in the local currency of the customers’ departure airport. This means that flights from European countries such as France, Italy or Spain are advertised in euros rather than sterling.

An investigation by consumer watchdog Which? reveals that when customers enter their card details the price reverts to pounds and automatically applies an exchange rate that compares unfavourably against market rates.

There is an option to pay in the local currency rather than sterling but it’s hard to find that option as it is tucked away in the “more information” link. And even if you do find it there’s a disconcerting warning that opting out of the exchange could lead to a fare that is “significantly more”.

During a random check Which? found a journey from Alicante to Stansted for a family of four advertised at €565.81, which became £526.97 at checkout – an exchange rate of 93p per euro.

The same day, Which? found Visa offering an exchange rate of 88p per euro and so if the customer had opted out, they would have paid £496.72, £30 less than with Ryanair’s exchange rate.

The watchdog found other examples, including a Venice-Stansted fare inflated £26.40 and a Nice-Stansted flight coming in £21 more expensive.

According to Which? Ryanair’s own exchange rate tend to inflate fares by around 6%.

CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) has been asked to bring to light Ryanair’s dynamic currency conversion practice in a report on the true price of travel expected to be published later this month.

Caroline Normand, Which? director of advocacy, said: “This cynical and misleading pricing trick is one of the clearest examples of a rip-off we have seen, but Ryanair has been allowed to get away with it due to a lack of action from the Civil Aviation Authority.

“If the regulator is committed to helping improve the experience of passengers, it must clamp down on this practice before thousands more holidaymakers are caught out this summer.”

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Ryanair’s currency conversion presentation is fully transparent and complies with all applicable EU and national laws on consumer protection.

“Customers have the option of paying in the currency of their payment card which gives absolute certainty of the final payment amount.”

TIP: Wherever you are in the world whether a cafe or shop, when asked if you would like to pay in local currency or sterling, always choose the local currency and let Visa or Mastercard convert the rate for you. The exchange rate will be fare more favourable because thanks to dynamic currency conversion the outlet can decide on the exchange rate themselves which may be inflated.