Revolut cards not accepted on TUI flights

Hi all,
Recently I have discovered that Revolut is not accepted as payment on flights operated with TUI (I flew from Ireland).
They say they don’t accept prepaid cards, which includes Revolut.
But my Revolut card isn’t prepaid, it’s debit, and I use Revolut bank account.
I don’t understand the issue.
Anyone experienced this?
I think it’s plain discrimination. It’s a bank debit card as any other.


Usually on flights they save the data to process later and may refuse prepaid card because they are afraid of someone using a card without balance and only finding it later when processing the transaction.

Seems like they cannot afford to lose a sandwich :sandwich:

Some debit card are prepaid credit cards, I didn’t get the difference but I’m sure that there’s one.

Debit for me traditionally are Visa Electron and Maestro that the issuer banks have a little more control when approving/refusing transactions.


IIRC the Revolut cards are effectively “prepaid” since there needs to be a balance on the account for any transaction to be successful.
Therein lies the issue. A merchant is quite at liberty to refuse a card for its own reasons.
Personally, I would use an established Credit Card for such transactions given the extra protection they afford.


We have (had?) a few public transport operators in the UK, which blacklisted Revolut, Monzo and a few others as they would often not get their money. Presumably it’s similar on a plane to being on a bus. There’s not always a continuous data connection, so they capture the details and process later. The established high street banks usually have in their terms and conditions that they will honour offline payments up to £100, Revolut and other fintechs take a different position and don’t pay if the account is empty and no authorisation code was issued. Which leads to the service being provided, but not paid.

It is an assumption on my part, but I believe Tui flying from Ireland faced similar problems.


Without going into too much technical details, I believe @glesga is on the right track here.


Does this problem only concern the physical Revolut card or also a virtual Revolut card via Google Pay?

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All cards, physical and virtual, most likely. Apple/Google Pay are based on the EMV standard and data model. It‘s about risk assessment here, not customer authorisation. But it’s hard to tell without knowing how the merchant has implemented this.


These instances should be reported to MasterCard to be fair. They shouldn’t be rejecting brands. It’s either all MasterCard or no MasterCard.


What protection do you need when buying a sandwich on an airplane?

Could you use “price protection” on an overpriced sandwich? :rofl:
If that works would be a game changer :face_with_hand_over_mouth:

The difference between a prepaid credit card and a debit card is that on a debit card you could have a negative balance on your account.


Its hard to tell without knowing if it’s arbitrary or if the terminal validly rejects a specific card configuration.

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That’s not correct. Even prepaid cards can accumulate negative balance with delayed transactions. Or account fees for example. The difference is that prepaid cards are linked to a card specific top-up account, whereas debit cards are linked to more flexible current accounts, that might or might not offer overdraft. Its also a difference from a regulatory perspective. But discussing those naming conventions here don’t help much.

What @Graham_Lees refers to is that merchants can decide to some extent to process high risk transactions: without prior authorisation of available funds. Also card issuers can decide to configure their cards in a certain way to allow these offline transactions—or not.



That’s why I’m asking. According to my knowledge Google Pay transfers only a token and the merchant doesn’t know, which subtype of a card is used, prepaid, debit or credit. So I think, a merchant can only accept or decline Google Pay in complete and not single card types used with Google Pay. (?)

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No, merchants know the card type when processing it. Chip + PIN cards use tokens as well. That’s what I mean with same EMV standard: Apple Pay is „just“ a different medium, not a different payment processing protocol.


Thanks for so many answers.

I get it.

Although, I think Revolut can go into negative balance for such transactions (happened to me on Eurowings flight). I just topped up then and that was it.

Also, I can put Revolut underneath Curve for example and pay like that.

Anyway, I know it can be merchant’s discretion but it just surprised me, as it’s a bank with current account.

Anyway I couldn’t find anything on this on TUI website, it only mentions prepaid cards per se.
This was said to passengers by inflight crew.


Did you actually try to process a payment or refused the crew to accept the card? That wasn’t clear to me.

Revolut cards are debit cards, not prepaid cards. For years now in the EEA and UK. (It’s different in other regions.) But that doesn’t automatically mean they’re configured differently for accepting offline payments. And even before Revolut switched from prepaid to debit, you could end up with a negative balance on your Revolut account. It’s complicated.


Alongside the token it also identify the card type and brand.

Here in Brazil is common to have cards with dual-mode, credit and debit on the same plastic, so before tapping our card the terminal (here) ask if is to be charged on credit or debit.

Selecting one that isn’t available (like credit on a pure debit card, or debit on a pure credit card, usually fails the transaction because the card doesn’t have the mode selected).

On foreign terminals usually they use the first function of the card (credit) but some when identifies 2 functions ask to select and then tap again to finish the transaction.


Similar to EMV cards, Apple Pay can support co-badge cards. But it’s not about credit vs. debit, it is about multiple applications.

Some cards in Europe for example have Vpay and Visa Debit „apps“ installed on them. Both are debit card brands. App selection is a relevant industry standard, also for mobile payment, but that’s not what this is about here.

The app selection you‘re referring to (and this is based on what I learned recently about Mastercard’s country specific Maestro operations in Brazil), is like a train switch. It’s two technically different tracks for payment processing, and with app selection you tell the terminal which track to use. If the train then doesn’t fit on the track, nothing goes through.

Whereas Mastercard Debit cards (the brand, not the card type) run on the same track as Mastercard Credit cards for example. Still the POS terminal of a car rental might refuse to process a debit card when the car rental only accepts credit cards. Without app selection involved at all.


Where I wrote function you may read app.

That’s why foreign debit card that runs on MasterCard/Visa credit track are processed as credit here.

Only Visa Electron and Maestro runs on our debit network.

Is V Pay a variant of Visa Electron?

I remember seeing it only in Germany and Netherlands with Visa Electron in Portugal, together with their “Multibanco” for local debit operations and some small shops on smaller villages only accepting “multibanco” cards.

Well we also have our own card brand “Elo” who was created by 3 big banks (Bradesco, Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica Federal) to avoid/reduce the fees they paid to Visa since they were the main/biggest Visa issuers in Brazil.

But outside Brazil those cards runs on discover network and acceptance is limited, lower than Amex.
Those card are only popular because those 3 issuers forced them on their clients by migrating most of their card to it.


What you’re describing and illustrating here is „application selection“ which allows you to select a brand on co-badged cards.

This is not related to the original question here. The original question is about debit cards with just one application, or brand, installed—no app selection involved. It’s about the question if merchants can know the type of card (not brand) when using Apple Pay.

(Whit type, I am referring to debit, credit, business debit, business credit … and so on. With brand, I am referring to various labels the big network providers use, like Mastercard, Mastercard Debit, Maestro, Visa, Visa Debit, Visa Electron, Vpay … )


You are correct, I deviated from the original question that I believe was responded on a previous message where was said that some types of card may be refused by the merchant.

There was a page on Visa and MasterCard webpage for complaining about some merchants that for some reason refuse their cards.

Visa file a complaint Visa Rules and Policy | Visa

MasterCard the previous page couldn’t be found :disappointed_relieved:

(Come to Brazil and you’ll see, some small places may only accept debit cards but not credit, and foreign debit is treated/recognized the same way was prepaid credit cards and doesn’t work where only debit is accepted, ok technically works just fine on most places but have higher fees than Visa Electron and Maestro).

And since some prepaid cards are used as debit, with does the same thing (pay for things) but technically aren’t by the same way, generate a little confusion on debit versus prepaid credit.