5 Hidden Fees You May Not Know You’re Being Charged
Have a sneaking suspicion that you’re being nickeled and dimed all the way to the poor house? You’re on to something. Fees — both hidden and explicit — are more common than ever. It seems that no matter what you buy, be it an airline ticket, a drink at your local bar, or a new house or car, a close examination of the receipt or papers will reveal that you’re paying a considerable percentage on top of the asking price in the form of fees.
Most of us have come to accept that fees are just a part of life, gnash our teeth, and fork over the cash. Others put up a solid fight, sitting on the phone for hours, or even throwing their frustrations back at store employees. These strategies to mitigate fees and get some of your money back can be successful, but often, they really aren’t worth your time — especially if your grievances are over a relatively small amount of money.
And yet, that’s how they get you. If the fees are low enough that they don’t inspire consumer revolt, the business wins. As for consumers? They lose — especially as other businesses take note of successful strategies and implement their own. Before you know it, you’re paying a fee for just about everything.
Buy a plane ticket, if you need an example. You’ll be hit with fees for booking, baggage, and sometimes even snacks, entertainment, and Wi-Fi.
As mentioned, we’ve grown accustomed to many of the fees businesses charge. But there are many that are still hidden, that most people wouldn’t even realize to look for. Here are a handful of those fees — so be sure to check your receipts, and see if there are any opportunities to save money the next time you’re shopping around.
1. Broadcast TV fees
A what, now? Check your monthly cable or TV bill. Some companies have the gall to actually throw a broadcast TV fee on there. They’re actually charging you for the channels that you get for free, over the air, anyway. You’re essentially giving them more money for nothing. While the fee itself started relatively low, at least for some carriers like Comcast, it’s been slowly increasing. In late 2013, for example, Comcast’s fee was $1.50. This year? $5.
2. Wi-Fi and safe fees
Hotels are tricky; if you stay at a mid or lower-level hotel, chances are you’ll get free parking and free Wi-Fi. Probably even free use of a safe inside the room. But the more stars a hotel has? The more fees are associated with it, oddly enough. Often, higher-end hotels will charge you fees for safes, Wi-Fi connections, and parking, which you can get for free at lower-end establishments. Of course, if you ask nicely, many times the customer service folks will give you theWi-Fi password. But if you weren’t expecting these fees? They can easily add a considerable amount to your bill.
The fee for Wi-Fi alone, for example, can be up to $20 per day at some hotels.
3. Booking fees
Nothing gets the blood boiling like being charged a toll just for the convenience of engaging in a transaction. But that’s exactly what many airlines do, particularly if you want to buy your tickets through certain mediums. Want to make a reservation over the phone? $15 — as an example. Stopping by a ticketing office or agent to purchase a seat? Some airlines charge $25 for the interaction. Take a look at what airlines charge, and save some money by avoiding booking fees.
4. Luxury fees
Certain credit card companies charge a “luxury” fee for certain purchases. Luxury, or service fees, as they’re also often called, are levied by credit card companies millions of times per year, and bring in almost $1 billion in revenues. According to Credit.com, individuals who encounter these types of charges on their cards pay, on average, $129 per year.
5. Free-to-paid fees
If you’ve never heard of free-to-paid fees, you’re not alone. According to a study from software company BillGuard and research firm Aite Group, these tolls are the most common, impacting 115,200,000 transactions annually. They occur when you sign up for a free trial of a service and then begin your subscription or payment period. A charge kicks in (which hardly anyone notices), at that time. It’s sneaky and costly, but brings in huge bucks to financing companies.