Hidden Travel Fees Can Ruin Your Trip In a Hurry
As prices for airfare and hotels continue to surge, it’s only natural to look for new ways to save money on travel. Your best moves involve shopping around and comparing prices for the vacation plans you want to book, and you should try to be as flexible as you can in terms of travel destinations and dates.
In the meantime, you should watch out for hidden travel fees and charges that can derail your travel budget in a hurry. But, which hidden travel fees should you watch out for?
If you’re heading to the airport, checked bag fees and in-flight wifi fees are worth avoiding if you can. However, cleaning fees and service fees may be a bigger concern if you’re driving to your destination and staying in a vacation rental booked through VRBO.com or Airbnb.
There are other types of hidden travel fees to avoid as well, including hidden fees that pop up when you cruise and pesky fees charged by certain types of hotels and resorts. Read to learn more? Read on to find out about the most common hidden fees in the travel world and steps you can take to avoid them.
Checked Baggage Fees
If you can’t seem to pack lightly and you wind up needing to check a bag for your flight, you should plan to pay for the privilege. That said, checked baggage fees vary by airline, and by the number of bags you plan to check. For example, Delta Air Lines charges $30 for a first checked bag and $40 for a second checked bag on most of their flights.
Seat Selection Charges
You may also have to pay to select your seat on some itineraries, or if you want to sit in a specific area of the plane. Seat selection charges can vary by quite a bit, but it’s not uncommon to see these airline fees approaching $100 per person for exit row seats in economy class for long haul flights.
Fees for Carry-On Luggage
Some discount airlines even charge fees for baggage you carry on the plane. For example, low cost carrier Spirit Airlines charges carry-on luggage fees for any baggage you have that is larger than a laptop bag or a purse. These fees can vary based on the airport you’re departing from and your chosen destination, but they can easily cost you anywhere from $45 to $79 each way.
Printed Ticket Fees
Some ultra low cost carriers even charge fees for aspects of your trip that are almost always free. For example, Spirit Airlines charges $10 for each boarding pass you print at the airport instead of at home. Another discount airline called Allegiant Air charges $5 to print your boarding pass at the airport.
Flight Change Fees
While airlines rolled out some fairly flexible policies regarding flight cancellations and rebooking right after the COVID-19 pandemic began, they have scaled back the generosity of their offers ever since. Most a;sp charge a change fee on basic economy fares if you have to change your travel dates more than 24 hours after you booked and paid for your flight.
Resort fees are the bane of most travelers’ existence, mainly because they are often hidden and used to pay for “extras” that should be included in a hotel stay anyway. In fact, many resort fees cover nothing other than included wifi and entry into your hotel’s gym. If you want to pay less for travel this summer, your best bet is to read the fine print to check for resort fees and avoid them any time you can.
Late Check-Out Fees
While some of the best hotels that aren’t completely booked up may allow you to check out late for free, others charge a late check-out fee for the privilege. Either way, you’re better off asking hotels about hidden fees if you plan to check out early. If they charge this fee and you want to avoid it, consider checking out on time and leaving your bags with the hotel concierge until you’re ready to leave.
Extra Person Fees
Some hotels also tack on extra person fees if you have more than two people in a single hotel room. This is most common within resorts in general, but also among all-inclusive resorts that offer food and drink as part of your stay.
While you may not be able to avoid this fee, you should check whether a hotel or resort you’re considering charges it. However, this fee may not show up until you get to the final page of an online booking, so make sure you don’t miss it.
Vacation Rental Service Fees
Planning to rent a vacation home through Airbnb or VRBO.com? Make sure to check for vacation rental service fees, which can easily tack on hundreds or thousands of extra dollars to your reservation. These fees should be clearly disclosed where you can find them, but you should still skip over properties with exorbitant fees that don’t make sense.
Vacation Rental Cleaning Fees
Also remember that vacation rentals often charge separate cleaning fees you don’t typically pay when you stay in a hotel. These Airbnb charges can cost less than $50 in some cases, but it’s easy to find vacation rentals with cleaning fees that are well over $300, $500 or more. Again, you shouldn’t book a place with a cleaning fee that is outrageous for the space you’re renting.
Fuel Surcharges On Award Flights
While domestic flights require only $5.60 in airline taxes and fees each way on top of the airline miles you have to fork over, keep in mind that international award flights often come with fees that cost hundreds of dollars each way. With that in mind, you should shop for the award availability you’re looking for with fees in mind. Also consider alternate flight dates and partner airlines to find the award space you want with the lowest possible fees.
Fees for In-Flight Wifi
Most planes seem to have wifi-these days, but the convenience of having in-flight internet is almost never free. Many flights require you to pay $10 and up for a few hours of internet access, and your costs can be a lot higher for long-haul international trips. Since airline wifi is usually pretty bad, you’re probably better off skipping this added charge if you can help it.
Foreign Transaction Fees
Many credit cards charge foreign transaction fees when you use them for overseas purchases. While this fee can vary, it typically adds another 3% — or $3 in fees for every $100 you spend — each time you use your card overseas. The good news? There are many credit cards for international travel that don’t charge foreign transaction fees, so you can avoid this fee if you do some research and planning ahead of time.
Rental Car Extra Driver Charges
Renting a car is expensive already, so you should avoid paying extra fees for additional drivers if you can. This is especially true since extra driver charges are usually added to your booking on a per-day basis, and since they will apply whether your additional driver gets behind the wheel or not. To avoid this unnecessary fee, shop around for car rental providers that don’t charge it.
One-Way Rental Car Fees
You may not always be able to avoid one-way rental car fees, but you can avoid having sticker shock if you know about them ahead of time. This fee is typically charged when you pick up your rental car from one place and drop it off in another city or state. One-way rental car fees can also be exorbitant, adding hundreds or even thousands of dollars to your booking.
Cruise Ship Gratuities
Cruising can be insanely affordable almost anywhere around the world, but you should know about some of the fees that aren’t included in the amount you pay upfront. In addition to extra charges for drinks and other purchases you make while you cruise, most cruise lines charge a daily gratuity for each day you’re on the ship. This gratuity usually amounts to another $10 to $15 per person for each day of cruising, so it can add up fast.
Hidden Taxes On “Free” Drinks
Also note that, even if your drinks are “free” on your cruise, you may still see some charges on your account. Many cruise lines charge a gratuity on each free drink in your drink package, or on certain included drinks when you book. These fees are typically nominal, but they’re worth knowing about so you won’t be surprised.
When you’re staying somewhere that has a minibar or a stocked mini refrigerator, it’s safe to say that anything you consume will come with an added charge. There are exceptions to this, but you should always check ahead of time. Mini bar drinks and snacks tend to be expensive, so you won’t want to treat yourself until you know for sure.
Finally, watch out for ATM fees that can kick in when you use an ATM outside of your bank’s ATM network. In addition to the ATM operator’s fee, you may be charged a fee by your bank for using an out-of-network ATM to boot. If you’re using an international ATM so you can pay for purchases abroad, you’ll likely be hit with a foreign transaction fee as well.