Travel companies have been alerted to be aware of new consumer laws covering credit card charges and premium rate call fees.

The European Union Consumer Rights Directive, which came into force from June 13, prompted Abta to yesterday issue advice to members.

”Consumers have been given new rights under these regulations, for example if your credit card charges or phone call rates are too high, you will have to refund the difference,” the association said

“Credit card charges should now be no more than the cost of accepting the card payment. Please note this applies to all businesses.

“There is no exemption for package holidays, and the year’s grace period for micro-businesses has now expired,” Abta said. “Additionally, for online bookings, debit card charges should be included in the headline price.”

Premium rate 084, 087 or 09 numbers have been banned for use on helplines. Consumers must also consent to additional payments on pre-selected extras.

The directive also extends the “cooling off period”, when consumers can cancel an order and return an item bought online, by phone or at home from seven working days to 14 calendar days but this dies not apply to the ale of any travel arrangements, according to Abta.

The new rules also ban traders from pre-ticking boxes for additional purchases, such as travel insurance or car rental when purchasing a flight online.