Travel firms are being forced to pay an extra charge for Barclaycard merchant services to cover losses when firms go out of business.

Barclaycard has added a sector management charge of 0.15% on credit and debit card payments made through PDQ machines.

Travel Weekly understands the company has imposed the charge on all firms in the travel sector.

The move comes at a time when credit card companies have been trying to limit their exposure to the travel industry after a number of failures in recent years.

Alistair McLean, founder of Activities Abroad, noticed an extra charge of £184.85 on his last Barclaycard merchant statement.

“This is not a massive sum but over a year it’s £2,000 off our bottom line. I feel we are being treated as an income stream, not a customer,” he said.

“We’re not Ryanair, so we won’t pass it on to the customer – we will have to absorb it. We are being penalised for the companies that have gone bust.”

McLean received a letter from Barclaycard blaming the charge on a rise in customer claims. It said: “Regrettably, over the last 12-18 months we have seen an increase in claims from consumers who have not received the services and goods they have paid for. Consequently, our business risks and costs have increased.”

However, a spokesman for Barclaycard gave Travel Weekly a different reason.

He said: “Our pricing for the travel sector reflects the costs we incur in providing the acquiring facility. When these costs change it can be necessary for us to change the pricing for the customer.”

Michael Threlfall, marketing manager at Abta, said: “I haven’t heard of any other acquirers doing the same. I’ve tried to contact Barclays to talk about this.”