How To Avoid Junk Fees On Your Next Trip

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Just because hotels and airlines, like many industries, have taken big financial hits in the past few years does not mean the price of doing business should be taken out on the little guy. It’s one thing to pay for products and services, but it’s another if you don’t read the fine print or realize there would be several hidden fees. Sometimes these fees can push your purchase past what you can afford.

Best Ways To Avoid Junk Fees on Your Next Trip

Different types of junk fees can sneakily wrack up your bill to levels you weren’t expecting. Though moves are currently being made to have more upfront and transparent pricing by companies, there are a few tips to know. Here are a few ways you can avoid junk fees the next time you go to book a hotel or buy an airline ticket:

  • Read the fine print before checking out to make sure you understand the charges.
  • Do some comparison shopping through different booking websites to see what ticketing agent or hotel package has fewer fees.
  • In many cases, you can negotiate fees you’ve been charged or ask for them to be waived. 

What Are Junk Fees?

When you purchase an event ticket, hotel room or airline ticket and the final total is far more than what it said it would be in the beginning, you may have fallen victim to some annoying junk fees. To make sure you understand your options, look to organizations that try to protect consumers as opposed to gouging them. Common junk fees charged, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, include: 

  • Service fees: These fees are tacked to your total at checkout. They claim to cover the service but they can also be a monthly fee. These are often referred to as a maintenance fee and can be for certain accounts you use in banks. 
  • Convenience fees: Essentially this is the price of doing business fee. A company might charge you when they accept certain online bill payments or foreign transactions. 
  • Overdraft fees: You incur these fees if you try to withdraw more money from your account than your current balance holds. This can cost you upwards of $30 to $35.
  • Resort fees: More than just what you pay to stay, a resort fee typically is assigned to cover such amenities as Wi-Fi, pool use, towel service, gym access or parking.
  • Credit card late fees: Credit card late fees cost American families nearly $12 billion each year. 60% of all fees charged by credit card companies came from only late fees. 
  • Prepaid card fees: These unadvertised costs are in addition to what money you put on a prepaid card. They can be especially inconvenient if you are using a prepaid card because you don’t have a bank account. 
  • Closing costs: Buying a house is expensive enough without even factoring in closing costs. These can be title insurance, realtor fees or document preparation and can really eat into your home equity. 
  • Fees on ticket sales: These fees are the ones you encounter when buying a ticket for an event, concert or even airfare. It can add a hefty sum to what you thought your total would be. 

The White House vs. Junk Fees

The Biden Administration has taken an active stance in both recognizing and calling out junk fees. They define them as “hidden, surprise fees that companies sneak onto customer bills.” They also say they are “a pervasive problem in industries across the economy.” In further regards to customer protection and providing consumers with upfront pricing, a White House briefing from June 15, 2023, went on to state:

President Biden recognizes actions by private sector ticketing and travel companies to eliminate hidden junk fees and provide millions of customers with transparent pricing.

Final Take To GO 

Billions of dollars are spent on seemingly superfluous fees each year by consumers. When you go to buy a product or service for traveling, it would be nice to have a better understanding of what your total is going to be from the beginning. Until junk fees are completely done away with, make sure to do your due diligence on how to avoid them or at least combat them before your next purchase.


Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding junk fees.

  • What are examples of junk fees?
    • The following are examples of some junk fees you may run into:
      • Service fees
      • Convenience fees
      • Overdraft fees
      • Resort fees
      • Credit card late fees
      • Prepaid card fees
      • Closing costs
      • Fees on ticket sales
      • Seat selection fees on airline tickets
  • What are junk fees according to the Biden Administration?
    • The White House defines junk fees as “hidden, surprise fees that companies sneak onto customer bills,” according to a press release from June 2023.
  • How can you avoid junk fees?
    • Here are some key takeaways about avoiding junk fees:
      • Read the fine print before checking out to make sure you understand all your charges.
      • Do some comparison shopping to see what ticketing agent or credit card issuer has fewer fees.
      • In many cases, you can negotiate the fees you’ve been charged. You could even ask for them to be waived.
  • What does the CFPB consider junk fees?
    • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau considers the following to be junk fees:
      • Overdraft fees
      • Late fees
      • Prepaid card fees
      • Closing costs
      • Convenience fees
      • Nonsufficient fund fees

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