8. Checking, loan, and other banking fees: Not paying interest on your checking account is bad enough. But now banks want you to pay, , just to have an account. Want a paper statement? Not long ago that was your only choice. Now it will cost you. Why should you pay to use an ATM, even another bank’s? You’re saving the bank money, not costing them. When you use the automated checkout at the grocery, they don’t charge a fee. Banks shouldn’t either.
Workaround: There’s no reason to get slapped around by any bank. If you hate yours, ditch it. Credit unions typically charge lower interest on loans and credit cards, pay more interest on savings, and have lower overall fees than banks. Think they don’t have enough branches? You’re probably wrong. Many credit unions belong to a of nearly 5,000 locations that allows members of one credit union to conduct business at any other member credit union anywhere in the country, even overseas. And when it comes to finding the nearest participating credit union? Yes, .
9. Resort fees: The concept of paying to stay at a hotel, then paying more to use on-site amenities is ridiculous. The Federal Trade Commission recently sent a warning letter to 22 hotels, accusing them of potentially violating the law by bumping up the prices listed on their online reservation sites with hidden fees. From their :
One common complaint consumers raised involved mandatory fees hotels charge for amenities such as newspapers, use of onsite exercise or pool facilities, or Internet access, sometimes referred to as ‘resort fees.’ These mandatory fees can be as high as $30 per night, a sum that could certainly affect consumer purchasing decisions. The warning letters also state that consumers often did not know they would be required to pay resort fees in addition to the quoted hotel rate.
Workaround: Before you book a reservation, find out in advance what fees you’ll be expected to pay, and if you hear something you don’t like, just say no. In 8 Tips to Save at Any Hotel – Even the Nation’s Trendiest, I suggested a tactic I’ve been using to get better hotel pricing for decades: negotiate. Explain that you’re a good customer, don’t find the fees fair, and would like a lower price. Just make sure you’re talking to a front-desk decision-maker, not an 800-number.
10. Internet service: When the Internet and Wi-Fi were new, perhaps it was justifiable to charge a fee to access it. These days, charging for Internet access makes as much sense as charging for the in-room TV or air conditioning. $15 a day? Give me a break.
Workaround: If you can’t find a hotel with free Wi-Fi, ask to have the fee waived when you check in. If that’s not an option, find it free elsewhere, either in the lobby or a nearby hotspot. Free apps like WeFi, available for and , will help you find one.
The bottom line
When I write articles that include lists and have titles starting with “10 tips” or “10 things,” it’s often tough to fill the list. But not with this article. I could have mentioned Ticketmaster, car dealers, gift cards, cell phone companies, schools and mutual funds, and lots more.
So what do you think? Am I being too hard on these businesses? What’s the most annoying fee you’ve paid? Sound off below or on . It doesn’t cost a thing.