12 Ways to Limit Travel Fees This Holiday Season

Here's how to get the most out of your next getaway.

No matter how you plan to travel this holiday season, someone might try to squeeze extra money out of you. Hotels, airlines, rental agencies, and others in the travel industry can have add-on fees that make your trip more expensive. But if you travel smart, you can avoid unnecessary costs.

Here are 12 tips for avoiding excessive fees as you travel to see your loved ones this holiday season.

1. Combine Your Luggage 

Checked bag fees get expensive at the airport, especially if you’re traveling with a group. If you can, combine your luggage with your travel companions to save money.
Cindy Richards, editor of TravelingMom.com, says, “Pack one large communal suitcase so you only have to pay one checked baggage fee. Just be sure it is under the weight limit so you don’t get dinged for overweight baggage.”

2. Carry on What You Can

You don’t have to check every piece of luggage you have. Most airlines let you bring one personal item and one carry-on bag. If every person in your party brings a carry-on, you can drastically reduce the number of checked bags. You can even enlist any young children in the group.

“It’s easy to forget that children who have a ticketed seat have the same luggage allotment as adults. Even if your little one can’t carry a carry-on yet, you still can. So take advantage of that extra luggage space to help free up room in your checked luggage,” says Amanda Norcross, Features Editor of Family Vacation Critic. 

3. Ship Your Gifts 

Don’t travel with holiday gifts. You’ll end up having to pay for additional checked bags. Instead, make the best use of shipping that you can.

“Don’t buy and carry your gifts,” says Richards. “Save the hassle and baggage fees by ordering gifts online from a service that offers free delivery . . . and have them delivered to your destination.”

4. Purchase Bulky Items Later 

Norcross also points out that bulky necessities can be purchased after your flight. “When it comes to things that you can easily purchase . . . like toiletries, diapers and wipes, hold off on them packing in your luggage and instead pick them up once you’ve reached your destination.” If you have young children and you need things like diapers during the flight, pack only as many as you know you’ll need.

5. Check for Credit Card Perks

Before you spring for additional car insurance from the rental agency, you should check if you’re already covered by your credit card.

“Don’t get pushed into buying car rental insurance from the rental agency,” says J.R. Duren, Personal Finance Expert at Highya.com. “There’s an extremely high probability that your favorite credit card provides complimentary collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance that will cover you if you get into an accident. This can save you a ton of money, especially if you’re doing rentals of at least one week.”

6. Use Credit Card Travel Perks

Many travel-focused credit cards—especially airline and hotel-branded cards—will waive certain travel fees. For instance, an airline’s credit card may offer free checked bags, while a hotel’s credit card may offer free late check-in or free Wi-Fi. General travel credit cards often get you free access to airport lounges.

7. Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees

If you’re traveling out of the country, some credit cards will charge you dearly for foreign transactions, usually to the tune of 3% of the purchase amount.

“If you’re going overseas for the holidays,” says Duren, “know which credit cards in your wallet charge foreign transaction fees and which ones don’t. The few minutes it takes to sort it out is worth saving the 3% fee you’d be charged for each foreign transaction if you use the wrong card.”

8. Check Your Hotel Bill 

You should always review your hotel bill when you check out to make sure you aren’t overcharged.

Duren says, “You’ll want to verify that all charges are legitimate and there aren’t any errors. If the front desk promised you certain perks or meals for free, make sure you weren’t charged for them. As an example, if you’ve got a guest staying at a hotel under your loyalty program account, make sure they aren’t charged for things that should be complimentary according to the loyalty program’s rules.”

9. Avoid Parking Fees

Airports and hotels often charge exorbitant parking fees. When you fly to visit family, get your family to provide rides to and from the airport if you can. If you must drive, use an app or the internet to find cheaper local parking and avoid hotel parking fees. 

10. Ask for Free Wi-Fi

Even if your hotel charges for Wi-Fi, they might waive your fee if you ask nicely at the front desk. Or you can stick to using data, provided you aren’t in danger of running over your limit and incurring extra fees from your phone provider.

11. Avoid Cancellation Fees

Sometimes you can get cheaper hotel rates or airfare by waiving the right to cancel your reservation for free. But this comes at a big risk; if you do end up having to cancel, you could be liable for costly fees or even the full cost of your purchase. In the long run, paying a little extra for the right to cancel could actually save you money.

You should also check if your credit card offers trip cancellation insurance, which can protect you if your plans are interrupted. 

12. Stay with Family

Staying with family for free will provide the ultimate discount. You might have to give up a little convenience or privacy, and you might have to endure an awkward conversation or two, but at least you won’t be stuck with a hotel bill. Whether the tradeoff is worth it is up to you—your mileage may vary!

For more ideas on limiting your travel costs and money management this holiday season, visit the blog at Credit.com.

Image: anyaberkut

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4 Outrageous Travel Fees — & How to Avoid Them

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You’ve gone through your ever-growing list of places you want to visit and have finally chosen where your next travel destination will be. As you’re building out your budget for this vacation, you’re seeing the expenses pile up and the supposed stress-free time is losing its luster.

But there are plenty of ways to save, one of which is avoiding paying some of those pesky add-on fees that often come with travel. Here are some of those fees and how you can avoid them.

For Cruises: Corkage Fees

Most cruises allow you to bring your own bottle (or two) of wine or champagne with you when you board the ship. However, if you bring that bottle with you to dinner or to one of the bars, you’ll likely get hit with a corkage fee, which typically ranges from $15 – $20.

“To avoid a corkage fee, you can always just have a drink in your cabin,” Tanner Callais, a cruise expert with Cruzely.com, said. 

Also, be sure to check your cruise line’s alcohol policy ahead of time so you know what you are (or aren’t) permitted to bring on board and where you’ll be able to drink it (for a fee or for free).

For Air Travel: Baggage Fees

According to the United States Department of Transportation baggage fees report, as of September 2016, the 13 main airlines in America had made a combined $2,047,379 in revenue on baggage fees over the course of that year.

You may be able to save a few bucks by paying to check your bag online instead of at the ticket counter, as some airlines offer discounts for doing this, according to Joe Black, who runs Nature Rated, a site focused on exploring the great outdoors. Black said he avoids baggage fees by trying to fly with carry-on bags only.

If neither of these options are right for you, you may want to consider looking at a travel rewards credit card, as many of these will waive your baggage fees. Just keep in mind that these cards often come with annual fees, so you need to make sure you travel enough to make this added expense worthwhile. (You can find more tips for applying for a new card here.)

For Road Trips: Toll Fees

Nothing beats packing a cooler and a bag of snacks and heading out on the open road. But, depending on where your road trip takes you, you may be faced with paying obnoxious toll booth fees. Of course, you can always avoid tolls by opting for longer, scenic byways — and  you can potentially offset this expense by using gas credit cards that reward you for filling up. You can set these rewards aside and use them to help you cover any tolls you encounter on your next road trip.

For Hotel Stays: Resort Fees

Elizabeth Avery, founder of SoloTrekker4U.com, emphasized how important it is to “read the fine print” before you book your stay to see if these fees are built into your lodging charge or if they break them out individually. “Check it out before booking so you won’t find you are paying [for things you won’t use, like] for the fitness center when you’d rather relax than work out,” Avery said. In many cases, you may be able to get these waived by asking a representative when booking your reservation.  

Image: SolStock

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Would You Pay $15 for Early Hotel Check-In?

Most of us are familiar with this scenario: Your flight just landed, and you and your bags are off to the hotel, only to discover that check-in time is still hours away. You certainly don’t want to hang around the hotel just to look after your bags and you don’t want to lug them around with you either. What if the problem could be remedied, or even avoided, for a small fee. Would you pay it?

Turns out, 63% of American travelers would.

According to a recent poll of 2,000 American travelers, 37% of those who said they would pay a fee would shell out up to $10 for the added convenience and 16% would pay $15. Ten percent of those who would pay a fee said they would hand over more than $15.

The July 2016 poll, conducted by Jetsetter, a travel deals website, had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1% at a 95% confidence level, according to an email from a Jetsetter spokesperson.

Added Fees for Travel

It’s important to remember that fees can add up, whether they’re to check in to your room early or to check your bag on a flight. Some travel credit cards do offer free checked luggage, but these cards often come with an annual fee, so consider how often you travel and if paying that annual fee is worth it. (You can read about the best airline credit cards here.)

If you are in the market for a new credit card, it’s a good idea to review your credit before you apply, as a good credit score can help you qualify for better terms and conditions. You can see where your credit currently stands by viewing two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.

Image: Pamela Moore

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