EUROPE is to follow in the footsteps of the UK government after it banned the practice of airlines ‘ripping off’ customers with hidden charges.

Under the new ruling companies like Ryanair and Easyjet will no longer be able to charge ‘extortionate’ fees to pay by credit card.

Customers are being charged as much as 14 euros, though the transactions costs as little as 30cents to process.

In some cases, the surcharges are higher than the value of the item purchased.

UK Treasury minister Mark Hoban insisted Britons were ‘sick’ of being ‘ripped off’ by the hidden charges.

He said: “We’re leading the way in Europe by stopping this practice. Consumers are sick of the rip-off culture and we are determined to do what we can to end it.”

Legislation will come in by the end of next year., while the EU is to ban the practice from 2014.

In recent months, surcharges have risen sharply particularly among low-cost airlines. The cost of booking a Ryanair return flight with a debit card has risen 15-fold since 2004.

The charges have now spread to many other areas including cinema tickets, utility bills, holidays and even some government departments.

In one case, car giant Toyota levied a 80 euro charge to purchase a car with a credit card.

In most cases, such charges are only disclosed as you finalise the purchase making it difficult for consumers to compare prices.

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