On top of planning flights, hotels, car rentals, dining and activities, there are numerous fees and surcharges to consider when you travel. According to cheapflights.com, the most common of these fees include:
- Booking Fees – With the increasing popularity of booking travel online, many airlines and travel websites now charge booking fees for folks who prefer to book travel over the phone. Even if you opt to book online, beware of any online booking fees. That small $5 fee adds up if you’re booking travel for multiple people.
Avoid booking fees by shopping around and comparing prices. Whether you book from a third party or direct from the airline, hotel or car rental company, be sure to read the fine print.
- Baggage Fees – Checked bags (and even carry-on bags on Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit airlines) are on an exceedingly long list of amenities that are no longer complimentary. In addition to charging for checked luggage, airlines also assess charges for overweight baggage and excess baggage.
Avoid checked baggage fees altogether by learning to travel with one carry-on bag. (Yes, it is possible!) With the right suitcase, you can pack it all in and not fret about fees or finding space in the overhead bin.
Alternatively, you can book an airline or fare class that suits your needs. JetBlue may have abandoned free bags on its lowest fare flights, but it’s generally cheaper to book a Blue Plus ticket, which includes a free bag, than to pay for a last-minute bag check. And most airlines will charge you less if you pay in advance for checking your luggage.
If you fly often with luggage on the same airline, consider obtaining a credit card with that airline as a free bag check is a common perk.
To avoid overweight baggage fees, weigh your bag at home before heading to the airport. Lighten the load by removing that extra pair of shoes or non-essential extra outfit. Leave the toiletries at home, too as you can use the complimentary hotel amenities or stock up at the store at your destination.
- Customs Entrance/Exit Fees – If you’re traveling abroad, there may be entrance or exit fees charged at the border. Even if your destination doesn’t require a visa, you might still be stuck with “air passenger duty.” At the time of booking, inquire whether your airline ticket includes the destination’s fees to avoid any surprises.
Avoid excess visa fees for last minute processing by applying well in advance. If you can, go directly to the embassy or consulate to apply for the visa. You’ll save on express mailing your travel documents. If you use a third-party service, the company will likely charge a service fee on top of the visa processing fees.
If you are traveling on a cruise, be wary of port fees. When a cruise ship docks at a port of call, they are charged a government-imposed port fee that is passed on to the consumer. Ask the company or travel agent if the quoted price includes port fees. Larger cruise liners tend to include them, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If the port fees are piling up, book a cruise with fewer stops or book earlier, as rates tend to be much lower when booked months in advance.
Traveling during the off-season also helps drive costs down.
- Credit Card Transaction Fees – Your credit card provider may tack on transaction fees for each and every purchase you made abroad. Some credit cards and banks also charge a currency conversion fee.
Avoid credit card transaction fees by getting a credit card that doesn’t add a foreign transaction fee to your charges. When presented with the option to pay with local currency or with that of your home country, always pay in local currency. The dynamic currency conversion option is based on a poor exchange rate, which means you will end up paying more. Plus, your credit card company may still charge you a foreign transaction fee.
Other travel fees to watch for include hotel fees, such as resort fees, airport shuttle costs, bed type guarantees and early check-in/late check-out fees; car rental fees, such as rental insurance, extra driver fees, alternate drop-off location fees; rebooking fees, and reward travel fees.