Pensioners face being penalised when going on holiday due to extra fees and charges, an investigation by consumer watchdog Which? found.

It accused some travel companies of unjustly targeting older travellers, charging them disproportionate amounts of money and cashing in on people’s expectations that prices always rise with age.

Additional costs range from travel insurance to car hire, while older people who are more likely to book by phone rather than online also face having to pay more.

People over 65 are the age group most likely to take foreign holidays but despite age discrimination laws, different rules around financial products and holidays mean that older people pay through the nose for even basic travel insurance as well as a host of other common holiday essentials.

Which? Travel found that a typical 15-day travel insurance premium leaps from £30 for a 64-year-old to more than £60 for someone aged 70 – even if they have no health issues to declare.

Travellers aged over 80 paid more than six times what those aged between 50 and 54 do – £355 compared with £54 – for annual European policies.

Older customers who stay loyal to their insurers over a number of years may also pay more in premiums, with the fear of being unable to find better policies keeping them trapped.

Some travellers can find their holidays are ruined by car hire firms not allowing them to rent vehicles because they are too old, despite statistics showing that 70-year-olds are nowhere near as likely to have an accident as a driver of 20.

Which? Travel looked at the cost of hiring a car in Alicante, and found that Firefly wanted to charge €6.95 extra a day for anyone over 70. Drivalia charged €5 a day extra from age 75, Recordgo 7€ a day from age 70 and Dickmanns an €20 a day, with a minimum charge of €55 for anyone 75 or over.

More subtle forms of discrimination also exist for older people. Which? Travel found that for bookings made over the phone rather than online, Ryanair and Tui add a £20 surcharge, easyJet £15 and British Airways £10.

Which? travel editor Rory Boland said: “While many 70-year-olds might accept they would have to pay more for their travel insurance than someone who is 25, perfectly healthy older people are missing out on travelling in their golden years due to spiralling premiums.

“The travel industry must urgently address this problem and stop penalising older generations who are more active and more determined than ever before.

“If you’re struggling to find travel insurance or the quotes you are getting are too high, you can try using an insurance broker. They will offer advice and search the market to find the right policy for you at the most competitive price available.”