Pricing and payments
When you buy goods or services in the EU, you have to be clearly informed about the total price, including all taxes and additional charges.
For online purchases, you should explicitly acknowledge - for example by pressing a button - that you are aware that placing your order implies an obligation to pay.
Surcharges: fees for the use of cards
Traders in the EU are not allowed to charge you extra for using your credit or debit card. The only exceptions to this rule are American Express/Diners Club cards and business or corporate credit cards, where your employer is billed instead of you. If you use these cards, you may still be charged a fee but the fee can't be more than what it actually costs the trader to process your payment.
You should be aware that if you're paying in EU currencies other than euros, you may still be charged a currency conversion fee by your card provider when you use your card in another EU country.
Charges for additional services
You must give your consent to any additional payment requested by the trader, for example express delivery, gift wrapping or travel insurance.
A trader is not allowed to charge you for these services unless you explicitly opted for them. Using a pre-ticked box on the trader's website does not constitute such consent, so you would be entitled to reimbursement of any payment which has been collected in that way.
Traders must tell you the full price (including taxes and charges) before you pay
Ewa from Poland bought some books from an online trader. However, her credit card was charged more than the final amount displayed at the point of sale on the trader's website. Ewa realised the company had not included delivery costs, and had only added this on after she had completed her purchase.
As EU rules oblige traders to display correct and complete pricing information before a customer makes a purchase online, Ewa reported this matter to both the company and the Polish authorities. After intervention by the authorities, she was refunded the difference.
As an EU national you can't be charged a higher price when buying products or services just because of your nationality or country of residence. Some price differences can be justified, if they are based on objective criteria other than nationality.
Sometimes price differences can be justified
Bart, from the Netherlands, visited his friend in Germany and went to a swimming pool. He was charged a higher price than local residents, and wondered if this is unlawful price discrimination.
In this case, the price difference is justified. The swimming pool is run by the local authority and financed by local taxes, so local residents have already contributed to the running of the pool and therefore enjoy a lower entry price.
You can't be charged more just because of your country of residence
Hilda from Denmark wanted to book a hire car in Spain for her summer holidays. She chose the car she wanted to book on the website of a Spanish car rental company. However, when she entered her address to finalise the reservation, she saw that the total price for her car rental increased by EUR 140.
Hilda contacted her local European Consumer Centre to complain about this price discrimination. They requested that the car rental company bring their website in line with EU rules.
Pricing rules for travel tickets
EU rules on pricing also apply when you buy travel tickets, such as flights or train tickets, either online or in person. This means that when you buy your tickets, all taxes, fees and charges must be included and appear in the total price from the beginning of the booking process. This makes it easier for you to compare prices with other travel operators.
Any optional supplements (such as travel insurance) must be clearly indicated as such and suggested only on an opt-in basis.
For the purchase of airline tickets, if you discover unclear online pricing when booking a flight, you can report it to the national authorities in your EU country of residence.