You’ve saved for months for your dream trip, only to discover that your carefully budgeted funds are running out faster than you expected during your travels. After doing a quick once-over of your bills, you realize that hidden fees are absolutely killing your travel budget. Sadly, you are not alone.
Hidden fees are today’s version of baiting and switching. You think you’re going to pay a low fee for a service or amenity, only to discover when it’s all said and done, that what you end up being charged is way more than you expected.
In 2012, new regulations went into effect that required airlines to include all mandatory taxes and fees into their advertised fares so that consumers could better understand what the actual cost of a ticket was going to be.
Unfortunately, it’s still not easy to compare airplane tickets because of all of the numerous extra fees that airlines have begun charging for services or amenities that once were free. For example, on some airlines, requesting an aisle or window seat could cost you more – even if there are only aisle or window seats left.
Then there are all those annoying baggage fees.
While some airlines will let you check in one bag for free, others – such as Virgin America – charge a fee for every piece of checked luggage. And then there is Spirit Airlines – this airline not only charges for checked baggage, but according to USA Today, it also hits your wallet for carry-ons.
Hotel Resort Fees
For travelers, one of the most annoying hidden charges is the hotel resort fee. According to Travel & Leisure, these fees can add as much as 30 percent to your bill and often cover items you have no interest in, such as access to tennis courts or to the gym. Some travelers have even found this fee added to their bills in hotels that were far from resort-like.
Unfortunately, you may not even realize you will have to pay this extra per-day rate until you are about to finalize booking your room. And, according to Travel and Leisure, sites such as Expedia and Travelocity don’t include these fees into their total rates, which means that the room you thought you were paying $100 per day could actually cost you $125 per day or more.
In some large cities, parking can easily add another $20 or more to your daily room total, so it’s always best to check a hotel’s website to see what, if anything, your facility charges for this convenience. Unfortunately, you may have to dig deep to find this charge as it is typically not listed with the cost of the room. In addition, at some of these hotels, valet parking is required, which also means additional money for tips.
Some hotels, such as Atlantis Paradise Island, include a mandatory housekeeping gratuity into their bills, so it’s important to check the fine print before leaving a tip – unless you don’t mind double tipping.
As for restaurants, gratuities may be included in your bill at some venues, especially if you have a large party. And if you’re traveling abroad, be aware that in a number of European countries, a “service charge” may already be included in your bill, according to travel expert, Rick Steves.
Be careful to what you agree to when renting a car. Some agents will try to tack on pricey extras that you don’t need. Watch out, for example, for agents trying to sell you additional overpriced car insurance, especially if you’re already covered through your credit card for free.
In most cases, it is also best to refill your own tank before returning your car rather than having the rental car agency do it. According to the Huffington Post, rental agencies may charge you two to three times the going rate for gas.