Stena’s Belfast-Liverpool ferry only accepting payment in euro – and Bank of England says that is legal

Stena is only accepting payment in euro on its Belfast-Liverpool ferry, adding to the cost of buying anything on board – but has agreed to compensate customers after being contacted by the News Letter.

By Sam McBride
Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 7:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 17th February 2021, 1:40 pm

The development – which has nothing to do with the new Irish Sea border – is due to a ship, the MS Stena Horizon, which normally operates between France and the Republic of Ireland being moved to the route for 10 days.

A passenger who is travelling on the route this week contacted the News Letter to say that it seemed “outrageous” that British currency was not accepted when travelling between two UK ports.

Because of covid, the ferry is not accepting cash and so that means that currency conversion charges and a non-sterling transaction fee may be charged for anyone using a normal UK bank card.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The MS Stena Horizon normally operates out of Rosslare but has been moved to the Belfast-Liverpool route

The Bank of England said that what Stena was doing was legal because although Sterling is legal tender in the UK, that term only applies in a narrow way to money which must be accepted in return for the repayment of debt.

Initially, Stena told passengers – and told his newspaper – that it was offering a 20% discount off the cost of a future sailing on either the Belfast-Liverpool or Belfast-Cairnryan route to compensate “for any inconvenience caused”.

However, yesterday the company contacted the News Letter to change that offer, saying that it would instead be reducing prices by 10% to compensate for the extra charges.

In a statement, Stena said: “The Stena Horizon which normally operates on the Rosslare-Cherbourg service is currently operating as a relief vessel during short notice maintenance works on the Belfast-Liverpool service and is expected to provide cover for the next 10 days.

“As the Stena Horizon operates in the eurozone, it has not been possible to make onboard currency alterations in time which means that onboard payments made with non-euro cards will be subject to variable exchange rates set by the card providers and may attract a non-sterling transaction fee.

“Stena Line has notified all customers in advance of travel and a 10% discount will be applied to all customer onboard purchases to offset any possible currency conversion costs during the 10-day period.”

The News Letter asked the Consumer Council about the issue and it contacted Stena

Richard Williams, Head of Transport at The Consumer Council, said: “The Consumer Council is aware that Stena Line is only accepting card payments in Euro this week on the Belfast to Liverpool route due to a change of vessel.

“As a result, passengers making purchases on board may incur non-sterling transaction fees.

“We have raised our concern about the financial penalty on consumers to Stena Line, which has assured us that all passengers will receive a 10% discount on all on-board purchases and will receive a 20% discount on their next trip to Liverpool or Cairnryan.

“Passengers have been informed of this in advance of travel.

“Any passenger who is not happy with these arrangements should contact The Consumer Council on 0800 121 6022 or email [email protected]


——— ———

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers — and consequently the revenue we receive — we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to and enjoy unlimited access to the best Northern Ireland and UK news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Alistair Bushe