One of the most obvious ways to get ripped off on vacation is to have your money or wallet stolen or pickpocketed. But there are other, less obvious, ways that you can lose money during your travels. Here are five types of fees that can drain your cash quickly and painfully. Be aware, so you can avoid them on your next trip.
1. Airline fees. Any regular reader of this blog knows by now how I feel about airline fees. One of the quickest ways to get ripped off is by not paying attention to additional fees both during and after booking. Beware hidden charges such as:
- seat assignments
- meals, beverages and snacks
- booking over the phone
- checked luggage
- redeeming frequent flyer miles
- overweight luggage
Make sure you double and triple check the total ticket cost and know the prices of extras you will be charged for, before hitting that “Buy Now” button.
2. Wi-fi fees. This one is also a huge pet peeve of mine. If I can find a hostel or hotel in Europe that includes free wi-fi, there should be no excuse for any hotel charging between $12 – $15 a day to use the Internet. On a ten-day trip – that’s a waste of up to $150! My advice? Don’t pay for wi-fi under any circumstances and always ask specific questions to determine if the Internet connection is free. Keep in mine that some places even charge to use the wi-fi on computers in their common areas.
3. Hidden Hotel Charges. An extra towel for the shower, use of the room safe, bottled water, the newspaper and even holding luggage can add charges to your hotel bill. Read the fine print, ask about charges before you use any service, review all charges on your bill during check-out and fight any charge that wasn’t clearly posted. Use your credit card to pay and dispute any charges the hotel refuses to refund directly through the credit card company.
4. Exchange and foreign transaction fees. Exchanging money at the airport will kill your budget. Changing money at an overseas bank or an exchange bureau isn’t any better. It’s just like handing over shovels-full of cash. Even using the wrong credit card for ATM withdrawals and purchases will result in unnecessary fees that will add up. Make sure you do your homework. Research and use participating banks and the credit cards with the lowest transaction fees. Check with local credit unions, which can have excellent rates!
5. Car Rental Insurance. If you have ever rented a car, you have been asked to purchase a Collision Damage Waiver. Well, perhaps asked is too nice a word. More like strong-armed. Those agents put the fear of God in you and you’re convinced if you don’t sign on the dotted-line, that your life will be over if you have an accident. You’ll end up paying the price of a Mercedes to cover the Yugo you cracked up. Well, truth be told – you may be paying for something you don’t really need. Check with your credit card company before booking to see if you’re covered. If so, use that credit card to rent the car and skip the extra insurance.
What hidden charges or fees have you encountered and what advice do you have for avoiding them?
Let’s see what travel tips Cherrye has for us today!