Late fees and other penalties are things that most consumers expect. Surprisingly, however, you’re probably parting with lots of your hard-won cash to cover hidden fees that you’re completely unaware of. Knowing what these are will give you the ability to negotiate for lower bills, and to make more knowledgeable decisions about the businesses you work with. Following are five hidden fees that you could be required to pay.
1. Check-in fees at hotels and resorts
Like many people, you’re probably careful about budgeting your travel monies. Sadly, you’re likely to encounter more hidden fees while traveling than at any other time. For instance, many hotels and resorts in popular destinations charge check-in fees that can range anywhere between $10 and $30 each night. To sidestep these extra and unnecessary costs, simply call the front desk at your preferred hotel and request the upfront charge. Even if your total bill doesn’t go down as the result of calling in, you won’t be facing any last-minute surprises. You should also be on the lookout for miscellaneous room charges such as fees that are added to your bill for ordering additional towels, or fees that are charged for simply shifting food or beverages around in your room’s mini-bar.
2. Many credit card companies charge foreign transaction fees
Another hidden fee that you’re likely to encounter while touring the world is foreign transaction fees. Your credit card company may be charging as much as an additional three percent every time you swipe your card outside of the country. You’ll see these fees factored into your bill on your next statement. However, if you’re traveling on a tight budget, it’s best to anticipate them in advance.
3. Know the true costs of using prepaid cards
Prepaid cards are great for sending kids off to college with the ability to make digital purchases and payments. Before buying and loading these cards up, however, you always want to be aware of the many fees that can be associated with owning and using them. Most prepaid cards come with monthly maintenance fees, swipe fees, and activation fees. If you aren’t careful, you could end up with a payment medium that costs more to use than it’s actually worth.
4. The price of using an ATM that’s out of your network
On average, consumers pay about four dollars each time they use out-of-network ATMs. That’s a lot to pay if you’re only stopping to withdraw a single 20. The best way to avoid these fees is to use your online banking platform or your bank’s mobile phone app to access a map that shows all in-network ATM locations.
5. “Free checking” that comes with stipulations
Free checking offers are rarely ever free. More often than not, accountholders are required to maintain minimum monthly balances, or have their accounts meet other strict criteria. If your balance ever falls below the required amount, you could end up owing more than you actually have in your account. One great way to avoid additional charges like these is by looking for accounts that have low balance minimums. It’s also incredibly important to carefully read through the terms and conditions of free checking offers so that you’re never caught off-guard by costly surprises.
Spending money without knowing where it’s going or why you’re being charged is never pleasant. Not only do hidden fees make it difficult to budget effectively and to accurately plan your spending, but they also make it hard to determine which businesses, services, and solutions are offering the best value. Knowing about the five hidden fees mentioned above will help you make smart decisions about how you travel, where you bank, and the companies you choose to work with.