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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