China Flights With No Credit Card Fees via Ctrip App

Domestic flights in China are based on percent discounts from government-set full fare. The major international booking websites generally only price the full fare. To get local prices, sites such as Ctrip, eLong (owned by Expedia) and TravelZen are needed. See my China Booking Sites post for more detail.

These companies accept foreign-issued (non Chinese) credit cards with aggravating, constantly shifting policies. Failed transactions, long phone calls, need to dust off a fax machine have all been part of the process. Things are getting better, slowly. eLong now claims to have an online foreign credit card registration process.

Travelzen does not have foreign card fees. eLong I think still does but it is not showing tonight when I test as close to submit payment as I am willing to do. Ctrip’s website still charges 3%.

Ctrip foreign credit card fee

Ctrip now has an app for iPhone and Android that claims to accept foreign cards and waive their 3% transaction fee. I have not had a flight to book so have not tested it. I am not fan of booking via apps, seems too easy to overlook options or make mistakes, however for a simple trip already vetted online, it is nice to save the 3%. Hopefully it works.

As with many foreign airline web bookings it can be good to contact your card issuer in advance of purchase, especially when Verified By Visa and MasterCard SecureCode get involved. Just today I had a foreign airline website booking that failed even though I had called Chase in advance. Fortunately their Verified by Visa team was able to resolve.

Ctrip App

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  • Does using a Discover card register as a foreign-issued card, or does it catch the UnionPay affiliation and track as UnionPay?

  • @Chris F – it is worth a try, I suppose, though the payment interfaces for China cards don’t have a catchall UnionPay that lends itself to testing, rather they require selecting which Chinese bank issued the card. They don’t have a distinct Discover option either. If it works, let me know.

  • Which is the best website to book Intra Indonesia Flights. Should I directly book through AirAsia or TigerAir?

  • @murtuza – I have used, recently on my trip in January it all went well and they even refunded me when Lion Air canceled some of my flights several days out.

  • Gerard

    Hi! Very useful review, I can’t use the travelzen website because it is in chinese. How can I view the page in english?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Gerard – thanks for noting this, it appears they have changed their business strategy and shut down their English site. Use ctrip or eLong instead.

  • Gerard Newell

    Just used the Ctrip app and got charger a 3% transaction fee

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Gerard Newell – yes, I don’t have a way to avoid that for China tickets yet.

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