Singapore Airlines Introducing Credit Card Surcharges on Basic Economy Fares

Last month Singapore Airlines announced new fare types going into effect January 20.

Overall the announced changes involve higher award change fees, the elimination of upgrades on the cheapest premium economy and business class fares, and seat selection fees on the cheapest coach tickets. At the same time more economy fares will become upgradeable (at a higher mileage cost) and the cheapest coach fares will earn a lot more miles.

However ‘economy lite’ fares — Singapore’s Basic Economy fare buckets Q, N, V, and K — aren’t just going to mean paid advance seat selection. While this wasn’t announced at the time, Mainly Miles reports that Singapore will also be imposing a 1.3% credit card surcharge to Economy Lite reservations originating in Singapore (capped at SGD50 although it’s hard to imagine the Economy Lite fare over US$2892 that would trigger the cap).

Credit card surcharges for purchasing airline tickets aren’t new in aviation, and have been common in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK (God Save the Points writes how to bypass these surcharges with British Airways and supposedly they’re banned in the UK effective January 13 in any case).

Mainly Miles says that tickets purchased with a Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer co-brand credit card are exempt from the charge, and also purchases made via Paypal (including using a credit card) are exempt though perhaps that loophole will close.

This won’t affect many readers, it’s only for Singapore-originating ticket on an Economy Lite fare and doesn’t apply to award bookings. Still it’s a change to Singapore’s Basic Economy that wasn’t announced with the rest of their restrictions, and amounts to a price increase on Singapore’s lowest fares making them less competitive with the low cost carriers they ostensibly are trying to compete against.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. This idea of credit card surcharges no doubt is still in the closet here in the U.S. but it is only a matter of time ? Any guesses on who will do it first ? Not necessarily Spirit or Frontier.

  2. These airlines are essentially all credit card businesses. In other countries, debit cards (not Visa debit cards that run on the credit network) are relatively common allowing purchases a actual chance to not pay the fee. In the U.S., there isn’t really that alternative (people are used to/comfortable with providing their checking account information for electronic checks).

    There’s definitely that temptation on the part of airlines to introduce a credit card surcharge, but I do thing we’d see a lot of push back from U.S. consumers – the consumer market in the U.S. is much stronger than other countries.

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