I’ll never forget the time when I was charged an $80 fee for my apartment management company to change a lightbulb! Back then, I didn’t realize how quickly unnecessary fees add up. Luckily, I learned my lesson and I now manage to avoid paying fees – at least most of the time.
With a little pre-planning, you too can become savvier when it comes to those annoying fees. Plus, if you know what to watch out for, you’ll be on your way to saving more money. To get you started, take a look at 7 fees that the best money-savers avoid.
1. Extended Warranty Fees
Have you ever made a purchase and been offered an extended warranty on the product? Instead of paying an extra charge for this service, just say “no.” This will save you a bundle. And besides, oftentimes products aren’t eligible for coverage offered by the warranty. If you did try to make a warranty claim, you’d likely find out that the damage is considered “normal wear and tear” rather than a defect and your claim would be denied.
2. Extra Hotel Fees
If you’re traveling, you can save a lot of money by steering clear of the unnecessary services hotels offer. Some of these fees include paying extra for Wi-Fi and telephone calls, early check-in, late check-out, parking, and gym usage. Keep in mind that sometimes hotels charge a mandatory “service” fee that includes Wi-Fi, the gym and even a complimentary wine reception. If you have to pay for it, you might as well enjoy the services. The point is: Make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for before you book a hotel stay.
3. Bank Fees
Most banks charge you fees to maintain an account with them. These may include fees if your balance drops below a certain minimum balance or fees to withdraw cash from certain ATMs. In fact, people pay around $330 a year in bank fees on average every year.
But you don’t have to pay these fees at all if you make more informed choices. For example, you can read the fine print and make sure you understand all the possible charges right when you first open your account. This will help eliminate surprise charges on your next bank statement. Of course, you could also avoid these costs altogether by opening a bank account that doesn’t charge fees. For example, banking with Chime means you’ll have no monthly minimum, no overdraft fees, and no foreign transaction fees on your Spending Account. There are over 24,000 fee-free ATMs and 30,000 cashback locations where you can withdraw cash. Close your old bank account and move on a better way to bank!
4. Baggage Fees
When traveling, you may know that most major airlines now charge baggage fees. If you want to avoid these charges, do some research ahead of time to find out if there’s an airline option for your desired route which doesn’t tack on fees. For example, I prefer to fly with Southwest Airlines because they don’t charge baggage fees. You could also try to travel lighter so all of your possessions fit into a carry-on. Or, you could research airline credit cards that offer free baggage perks.
5. Car Rental Extras
When you’re traveling and must rent a car, try to avoid doing so at the airport. In fact, you can even take a taxi to another car rental agency and save money! Airport car rental prices are usually higher than other options because they charge more for the convenience factor. Not only this but they pass along extra costs to you. If you look closely at an airport rental car bill, you’ll often see charges for parking and transportation. These are fees associated with the high cost to park rental cars at an airport lot and transport you to an offsite lot via what you thought was a “free” shuttle bus.
Besides extra costs at airport rental car counters, look out for other common add-ons at all automobile rental agencies. These can include mileage and early drop-off fees, as well as other hidden costs. To avoid these fees, always read the fine print before renting a car and make sure you don’t pay for anything you don’t need or want.
Also, if renting a car in the U.S., you may not actually need that expensive car insurance offered through the rental car agency. For starters, you may already be covered by your own personal car insurance. Some policies even allow you to tack on extra coverage for rental cars. During a recent trip I took, I was able to add extra coverage onto my car insurance policy to cover my rental car. This cost me about $50 instead of $175 from the rental agency. If you don’t own a car or don’t want to add on extra coverage to your personal policy, you can also check whether your credit card offers primary car rental insurance. On a final note, InsureMyRentalCar.com offers low-cost rental car insurance policies that will save you big bucks.
6. Shipping Fees
Online shopping is an easy way to buy things without leaving the comfort of your home. You can save money by comparing prices across multiple retailers to find the best deal. At the same time, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up spending money on shipping charges.
To avoid paying for shipping, watch for secret codes that offer free shipping. Sometimes, if you wait a few minutes, these will pop up on your shopping cart or checkout screen. If you close out before hitting submit, you might also get a reminder email – along with a free shipping code – to entice you to seal the deal.
If you do most of your shopping online, you might want to consider an annual Amazon Prime membership. Yes, it costs $99 but, with the high cost to ship packages, it won’t take long to pay this off and then you’ll get unlimited free shipping. Plus, you can take advantage of other Amazon Prime benefits too, like a selection of free Kindle e-books and video-on-demand. Think of it this way: You’ll also save money on your entertainment costs!
7. Late Payment Fees
Late payment fees are one of my biggest pet peeves. I try to avoid them at all costs and you should too. Late payment fees will kick in on your credit card and other bills if your payments aren’t received by the due dates. Most late fees range from $25 to $35 and this adds up over time.
To avoid these fees, make sure you mail your payment well before the due date. Better yet, you can pay online to make sure your payment is received quickly. To do this, you can set up online bill pay with your bank or through your service providers.
Every little bit you save counts and you’ll be surprised how much extra money you’ll have when you no longer pay fees here, there and everywhere. And, now that you know some important ways to avoid fees, it’s time to start thinking about achieving your financial goals.