Are you being charged without knowing it? Check out these common hidden fees that are everywhere and how to avoid them.
Are you being charged to use your own money, access your own information, or use your own Internet? Probably. You could be slapped with an unexpected fee when you go to any of these places:
- The bank
- A hotel
- A concert
- The airport
It seems like secret charges are everywhere these days. Check out these 7 common fees that are hidden in our everyday lives and how to dodge them.
If you’re human, you have probably overdrawn from your bank account before. There is no mistaking that sinking feeling when you look at your account information and see that scary red number with a minus sign in front of it. Or, when you are out and get an automated text message from your bank saying your account has negative dollars, thanks for the update.
It is already a difficult time when you overdraw from your bank account. Unfortunately, banks make it worse when they charge you an additional overdraft fee when this happens; which throws you further into the debt hole.
Some banks even charge an additional fee when you transfer money between your own accounts when you overdraw. So, when you have no money they charge you a fee, and then when you try to fix the problem by transferring other funds into your account they charge you again! If you are not careful, having a bank account can actually cost you money.
Deflect these ridiculous fees by keeping a close eye on your financial activity. Change your automated text message updates to notify you when you have a low balance, so you know to change your bank account balance before all the hidden fees come out.
If banks weren’t taking you and your money for enough of a ride, they can also charge you to receive your own information in paper form. Your bank isn’t the only one, some credit card issuers and brokerages will also charge an additional fee to send your monthly statements in the mail.
With the common use of online banking, this issue becomes easily fixable. Most banks and credit card lenders have a website or app that allows you to access your information for free. Instead of ripping up your paper statements with the junk mail, or leaving them in a cluttered pile to collect dust, take the time to go to your bank or credit card account settings and change your preferences to electronic only.
Receiving electronic information is an environmentally friendly way to stay on top of your finances, do it for your wallet and the trees.
Hotel Service Fees
We all love staying the night in a fancy hotel room, the beds are magically made, you don’t have to clean a thing, and sometimes there are delicious treats and drinks in the fridge. While it’s no secret that the stuff in the mini-fridge isn’t free, you could be charged to just touch the snacks and refreshments in your hotel room.
Some hotel mini-bars have weight sensors that can detect if something has been moved. You might have picked up a cookie that turned out to cost $4, and put it back (because you could buy a whole box of cookies for that much), and still have been charged anyway.
Before you check out of your hotel room look over your bill thoroughly to make sure there are no unwarranted charges. Or before your check-in, ask the hotel to empty your mini-bar so charging you is never an option. Let’s be real, the snacks are never worth it anyway.
Pre-paid Credit Card Fees
Admit it, money is the best gift ever. It’s okay, we all know it’s true. There are even holiday and special event cards specifically designed to hold money or a gift card. But nothing is more of a bummer when you get one of those awesome pre-paid credit cards only to have a chunk of the money taken out just so you can use it. Why do companies keep charging us to access our own money?
Before you purchase a pre-paid credit card look at the terms and conditions. Some cards charge an activation fee and some will not, you obviously want the one that doesn’t. Or, you can purchase the activation fee yourself if you are giving the pre-paid credit card as a gift. You are still hit with the fee, but you avoid being the person who gives the present with a bunch of strings attached, and that’s a good person to be.
Ticket Service Fees
Going to a concert is expensive enough as it is: t-shirts are usually between $30 to $45, water is always at least $6, and don’t even think about buying a hoodie unless you want to fork over a small fortune. All of this doesn’t include the sky-high price you undoubtedly paid for the seats themselves.
Tickets to concerts and shows are getting more expensive. ABC News says in 1969 it cost $8 to get into a Rolling Stones concert, and now it costs up to $350 if not more. Additionally, ticket vendors usually charge a processing fee to the already growing price of your ticket.
The only way to escape this is to go old-school and buy your seats at the physical venue before the show or concert you plan to attend. It takes some time, but you will bypass an obnoxious fee. You also won’t have to deal with the stress of forgetting to print out your ticket.
Does your cable company provide your Internet? Companies like Time-Warner and Comcast are known for charging monthly rental fees with the modem or router they provide. In the past, companies like these included this service for free. You could be charged an additional $10 a month on top of your regular Internet or cable bill, that’s an extra $120 a year!
The only way to get around this annoying fee is to purchase a modem or router yourself. In the long run it is worth it. When you buy a modem in can pay for itself in sidestepped rental fees in less than a year.
Remember the good old days when you could always bring one piece of luggage with you on a plane? Well, that’s a luxury now. Presently, only some airlines allow customers to bring a suitcase for free, others can charge up to $50 just to check one piece of luggage.
Choosing an airline just got trickier. Before you book your flight, check out the baggage fees for each airline. They also usually have a weight limit, and will charge extra if your bag is heavier than it should be. You can dodge the weight limit by purchasing a lightweight suitcase and making sure not to over-pack.
Regardless of where you are, always make sure you read through any bill or statement you receive to make sure you aren’t paying for something you didn’t want or use. Hidden fees are everywhere, but they can be avoided when you know where to look.