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9 Hidden Fees Savvy Travelers Always Avoid

9 Hidden Fees Savvy Travelers Always Avoid

The price of travel can already be high enough as is. So when you budget for a trip, you of course want to know exactly what you are getting yourself into.

There are several travel fees that while alone may seem small, can really add up! With a little planning and research, you can avoid these fees, or at least be prepared for them when they arise. Here they are, broken down by planning your trip, at the airport, and in your destination.

Booking a Trip


Refund Fees: Before booking any trip, always check the fine print on the cancellation policies of flights and hotels. Thanks to the US Department of Transportation, all domestic airlines must offer a , in which you can receive a refund or change your flight within 24-hours of booking without any fees. If you have to make any revisions after this time, most airlines will charge a hefty fee of up to $200.

Worried you may need to revise your plans? Try booking with an airline such as Southwest that will transfer your bookings to a later date within the calendar year without charge. You would just have to pay for any fare increase. (Note that Southwest only flies domestically and to Mexico and a handful of the Caribbean islands).

Currency conversion fees: A week before leaving for an international trip, request local currency from your bank for your destination. If you wait to find a currency exchange at the airport or in your destination, exchange rates and fees are always higher.

Travel insurance fees: Many seasoned travelers would argue that for most trips, travel insurance isn’t necessary. It all depends on the safety of your destination, the amount you spend on airfare, and the length of your trip. It’s up to you to decide if you think the financial risk outweighs the cost of insurance.

Additionally, some health insurance policies cover you even when traveling internationally. If you are going to opt for insurance, it’s best to get it immediately after you’ve completed your travel arrangements so you will be covered for any change in plans.

At the Airport

Checked bag fees: Many airlines in recent years are charging for checked baggage, even if you are not flying budget. Pack light and limit yourself to only a carry-on bag if possible. In addition to a carry-on, airlines allow you to bring a personal item such as a purse or laptop bag, which you can take advantage of in packing in-flight essentials. Or, fly Southwest Airlines, which allows two checked bags without charge.

Also, many airline branded credit cards or rewards programs offer a free checked bag and other perks which is worth it if you fly frequently with them.

Overweight luggage fees: Weigh your baggage before leaving home to avoid extra fees on both carry-on and checked luggage. If you find out you are above the weight limit once at the gate, you could be charged 2-3x more than the normal rate. Leave a bit of extra space in your carry-on to transfer items from your checked bag if you are above the weight limit.

In Your Destination


ATM Fees: If you are constantly withdrawing small sums of money from the ATM, the $3 charges can really add up. Hotel ATMs can be even higher, up to $6 for a convenience fee. Ideally, withdraw enough money from your home bank before leaving.

Foreign transaction fees: If you are traveling internationally, it is important to find a good rewards card. Foreign transaction fees average 3% stacked on top of every credit card purchase made outside of the United States.

One of the best rewards cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card which has no foreign transaction fees. It awards 3X points on travel and dining worldwide, which are then worth 50% more when redeemed for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. It also covers you with trip cancellation, trip delay and lost baggage insurance as well as emergency assistance. Other benefits include Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® and complimentary airport lounge access. Although the annual fee for the card is a hefty $450, you are granted a $300 annual travel credit plus all the other perks, making it well worth it!

Hotel resort fees: Many hotels charge fees for amenities such as a gym, pool and wifi. This fee averages about $27. This fee is not included in the first price you see on the hotel’s site or travel deal site, so you don’t know the final price until checkout. This can get you when comparing across hotels. If you aren’t going to use these perks, search for a hotel that doesn’t offer these amenities.

Data roaming fees: Keep your phone on airplane mode when traveling internationally to avoid extreme roaming fees. Use wifi for any internet connection and to send iMessages. If you need data while out exploring and away from wifi, contact your cellular company and they may offer an international add-on package which will be cheaper than roaming charges.

We hope these tips are helpful for saving you on your next trip!

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