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When booking a flight, most people tend to use a credit card as a method of payment. The reasons why this might be the best way to do it are manifold. You might receive travel insurance when using your card. Or you can get your money back if something goes wrong.
But there are also reasons to choose a different form of payment. Maybe you can save money if you pay via direct debit. Or you just can’t or don’t want to use a credit card. No worries, you won’t have to stay at home and envy your friends that used plastic to get away.
Here, we want to show you a few ways that will allow you to book a flight without using a credit card.
Even if you can book a flight without a credit card, you will rarely find a way to purchase a ticket without some kind of electronic payment. Most airlines in Europe will be taken by surprise if you hand over a stack of cash at the airport. So the minimum will be chequing account with a local bank. If that point is checked off the list, than there are ways to purchase your ticket.
Book with an Online Travel Agency
There are countless travel agencies out there that will offer their services only online. Hence the name: Online Travel Agencies, short OTA. Since every country has its own agencies and they sum up to such a high number, we can’t guide you through each and every one of them. But there is another way to sort out the travel agencies that will offer you another form of payment, next to credit cards: travel metasearch engines.
The word might sound complicated but we’re sure that you’ve already heard of them: websites that use such engines are named Skyscanner, Momondo or Kayak – to name just a few prominent ones. Now, you won’t be able to actually book your flight on those sites (although it is highly recommended to use them to compare prices). But some of them will offer you to filter results based on the form of payment that the travel agencies will accept.
The website with headquarters in Copenhagen is famous for helping people find low prices. And it is used by many travel websites and bloggers to promote great deals. In addition to those facts, Momondo is one metasearch engine website that will allow you to set a filter when it comes to methods of payment.
Depending on the country you’re from you will see different methods. Next to credit cards you will often see PayPal. But also Maestro or Direct Debit are choices that you could be able to make.
Since Momondo is part of the Kayak network, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the website offers more or less the same service as Momondo does. Again, you will be able to filter for your preferred method of payment and only OTAs that accept this method will be displayed in the results.
But be careful! Filtering for a method of payment can result in much higher prices for your flights. So it is always best to screen your preferred connection without filtering for OTAs that will accept PayPal, Maestro, and co. That way you will get a good overview of what’s out there. So then, once you reduced the number of results you can make an informed decision.
Book Directly on the Carrier’s Website
If you can’t find on OTA that will accept your favorite method of payment, you can always check what your carrier of choice can offer you. Not all but many airlines in and outside of Europe will make it possible to book flights without the use of a credit card.
We had a look at some major airlines, renowned and low-cost, and found that it is easier than ever to book flights even if you don’t call a plastic card your own. Once again: if an airline offers alternative payment methods or not will very much depend on where you live. Even if the world has become so global, finance still works a little different everywhere.
So here’s a list of examples that will give you an idea of the variety that exists. Check with your airline of choice to see the options you have since those could differ from what we are showing you here.
Next to credit and debit cards, the French national carrier Air France even offers to pay off your ticket in installments. At least that’s an option for people living in France.
Alitalia still favors payments by credit card. But Maestro and SOFORT banking are two option that will allow you to travel without using plastic.
The usual suspects of credit cards. But once again, Maestro and PayPal save the day for people not willing or able to use credit cards. A UATP card seems to be available only to corporate travelers.
Iberia offers bank transfers to almost all passengers, no matter where you are from. The system in the background is once again SOFORT banking, so we are not sure that this method will really work in all countries in the EU.
LOT Polish Airlines
The Polish national carrier has by far the most up-to-date payment system. Not only will the airline accept credit cards, online transfers, and PayPal. But you can even use Google Pay to settle your bill. Even though this also requires at least a debit card in most countries: if we’d rank airlines here, LOT would definitely be Nr. 1.
Not a European airline. But Qatar Airways does offer other payment types. In our example, you can use iDeal or UnionPay in Hungary. Other countries will possibly get more or different options to choose from.
The Irish low-cost airline is very innovative if it comes to searching for ways to make more money while providing less service to their customer. But unfortunately, the methods of payment are stand. At least you can use PayPal to book your flight.
Established Forms of Payment
Online Banking: Klarna, SOFORT and Other Providers
Klarna and SOFORT are just two examples for providers that allow you to make online payments directly and without the least delay. So they cover one significant benefit of credit cards. But all you need is a bank account that is set up for online banking.
You will book your flight with a travel agency or an airline, and the provider will guarantee the amount to your business partner. That way, the transaction will be done right away — no need to wait for a couple of days until your money arrived in another account.
Also, you will often pay little or no fees at all since payments such as SOFORT are typically treated as a regular debit transaction. This could even be an advantage compared to credit cards.
The name says it all: this system becomes your pal when paying for things online. It’s fast, and in most cases, it’s also free of charge. At least for you. And it comes with buyer protection, which is always a great feature. Even when purchasing tickets from trustworthy airlines.
A small downside is that you have to think ahead. If you want to use your bank account for transactions with PayPal, it might take a few days until the provider has verified your data. So, if you need to book right away and haven’t set up your PayPal wallet yet, this option might come too late.
Technically this is precisely what happens when you use one of the services described above: You buy something, let the other party know your bank details and allow them to take the money from your account.
The only difference here is the time. While service providers speed up the transaction to a state that can be seen as immediately, the traditional way will take a little longer — generally at least one business day. So you will most likely have to wait a while to know if you really purchased a ticket or not.
Just like the SOFORT payment method, also direct debits typically won’t cost you any additional fees. Assuming that you make the payment within your country or, as an EU citizen, within the SEPA area.
This is how it was done in the old days. A company gives you its bank details, you set up a transfer from your account, and as soon as the vendor received the money, the product will be released.
No need for any kind of fancy technical stuff, since this transfer can be done directly in one of your bank’s branches. But it is definitely not the fastest way and probably also not the most convenient.
But you won’t have to worry about fees since every bank account allows typically you at least some free bank transfers. Could change if you really have to see a teller.
Paying for your flight without a credit card is definitely an option nowadays. Not only will many OTAs accept other forms of payment, but also most airlines realized that passengers are looking for alternative methods to purchase their tickets. So if you want to travel but there is no way that you’d use a credit card: there is not much holding you back!
But we do think that using a credit card to book your flights has some benefits that can’t be belittled. Especially the option to get your money back in case something goes wrong is a big advantage that most other types of payment won’t offer. Paying for a ~€100 trip with a renowned airline is, of course, different than purchasing tickets for an expensive business class flight with an airline that is already in financial trouble. So it is wise to consider all factors before choosing your method of payment.
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