Isn’t it exciting? Half off airfare to your favorite destination! And free drinks when you get there! Pack your bags.
While the idea of cheap travel and amenities is enticing to any traveler, they could be nothing but empty promises as everything comes at a cost. Even though it may not be directly evident, you will pay for these “generous” offerings. What that price is we often don’t know upfront when planning a trip.
Travel sites, cruise lines, restaurants, hotels, and other travel-industry related businesses are known for playing a find the hidden fees game which can leave you broke sitting on a beach with your friends and a $20 Mai tai. How do you unearth these sneaky costs and avoid these hidden fees? We’ve dug up many of these buried fees for you, here’s what you need to know.
Hidden fees on travel sites
As travel sites compete for your business, marketing tactics such as bargain pricing can pull you in faster than an airline can lose your luggage. Yes, many sites missed the memo on the importance of being transparent with consumers and continue to refrain from disclosing additional fees until right before you pay.
One of the heavy hitters in the travel site industry, Priceline makes booking flights, cruises, cars, hotels, and packages convenient. Ease aside; you must pay attention when using this site as it does not mention associated Priceline fees until they are slid in during the checkout process as ‘Taxes and fees.’
Once added, these fees can almost double your cost and there is no breakdown immediately provided, so Priceline’s cut is anyone’s guess.
As with its competitor, Priceline, Hotwire keeps its fees under wraps until you are ready to book. Sadly, that’s not the only info the site holds back. If you are searching for a hotel, Hotwire keeps the names of the hotel secret until you pay for the room(s).
Warning, once you complete the checkout process there is no going back as Hotwire has a policy of no refunds or changes. May we suggest a new name: HopeYouLikeYourHotelRoom.com.
This popular and well-advertised travel site makes finding the hidden fees challenging. After entering your flight details, you can choose your airline which can randomly redirect you to a Hacker Fare.
What is a Hacker Fare? This pricing is a combination (not much cheaper than the standard prices) that gives you two, one-way tickets from different carriers.
You will have to click on the Details tab to view the fine print. While the total provided includes taxes and some fees, baggage is left out. Other optional charges not tallied into your displayed fare can consist of food, drink, airline-issued pillow, blanket, and inflight Wi-Fi.
Other fees to watch out for
If you thought travel sites were the only protectors of fees, think again. Throughout your trip, you will unearth plenty of charges that aren’t made clear upfront.
Watch out for these budget-busting costs:
Food and Entertainment- While you may have thought your cruise was the ultimate all-inclusive trip of a lifetime, it may turn into a boring boat ride if you find out after booking your food and entertainment aren’t tallied into the cost of your ticket.
ATMs- If you find yourself short on cash while you're staying at a hotel, you may be quick to grab a few bucks from the ATM in the lobby. What you may not realize is you most likely will pay a premium for that cash as hotel ATMs charge a higher fee than other locations.
Resort fee- Hotels tack on additional fees to your stay for a host of reasons. The most unpopular charge is the ‘resort fee,’ which can rack up a couple of extra hundred for your visit. Although not every hotel charges this fee, there are ‘resort fee’ loving destinations such as Las Vegas, Florida, Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean.
Gratuities- As the customer, it’s typical you determine the amount of a tip when dining out. However, various restaurants around the world add on a percentage, up to and over 20% of your food bill as a gratuity. Take a look at the bill before adding your tip so you don't pay twice.
Parking- If you drive to your destination you may find parking accommodations are limited and may result in you needing to pay for a spot in a parking garage or the more expensive option, valet service.
How to avoid hidden travel fees
Although determining every expense associated with your trip ahead of time may prove impossible, a few guidelines may make calculating some easier.
- Read the fine print. Always.
- Search the website’s FAQs for information on fees, charges, or billing.
- Contact customer support and inquire about their additional fees.
- Research businesses in the area you will be visiting, call ahead for their policies.
- Bring extra cash on the trip and know the locations of your bank’s ATMs.
- If family, friends, or co-workers visited an area you plan to visit, ask if they dealt with any unexpected fees along the way.
- Understand this list is far from complete.
Here’s hoping you avoid the unfettered fees and your trip is everything you expected.
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