Many banks such as Abbey National, Co-operative / Smile are phasing out Visa Electron Cards, new cards are being issued only as Visa Debit cards.
Existing Cards are been reclassified by online systems to be now recognised as Visa Debit Cards instead. This happens when using an existing Visa Electron card and choosing 'Electron' as the card payment type when paying for the transaction.
The transaction will state the card has not being recognised as a Visa Electron Card (even though it is) allowing you to continue the transaction, but then charge your Visa Electron card the fee associated with Visa Debit Cards.
Using a Cooperative/Smile Visa Electron Card, this was tested against the flybe.com website - which, even though it showed flight details with card payment fees of 0.00 when Visa Electron was selected, submitting the card details came back with the card not being recognised as a Visa Electron and a subsequent fee of Â£18.00 was adding to the booking of the two flights. Â£4.50 fee per person/per flight each way.
Phoning Cooperative, they denied changes has been made to the bin codes issued by the bank, and stated existing Electron cards starting 4508, should still be recognised as 'Visa Electron' and the fees associated with this, but stated that it had 'merged' all cards issued to Visa Debit. Co-operative has also issued no changes to terms and conditions confirming this change as regard to existing Electron cards being treated as Visa Debit type transaction.
Flybe stated that the wrong card bin information is currently associated with Payment Cards relating to Cooperative/Smile, so that all Smile cards are now recognised only as Visa Debit. But stated there was nothing currently they could do.
The current flybe.com website is therefore misleading as regard to the prices advertised, as it appears there is no way of obtaining flights at the minimum advertised price, by paying Visa Electron.
To the consumer, who has a Visa Electron card in their hand, and have selected payment type as 'Electron' in order to avoid fees, it looks as if the banks are trying to phase out Visa Electron long before the existing expiry date of the cards, by this subtle back end system change.
If you are charged this fee on an Electron Card, I suggest you query it with both your bank and flybe.com, if neither back down, pass you complaint to 'UK Payments' on 02032178200.