Avoid sneaky travel fees: A quick-hit checklist

From the moment you start browsing destinations until you’re on your way home sweet home, you could face many under-the-radar travel costs. Check these extra fees off your to-do list before you go so you can have more cash in hand for things that are truly experiential.

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Online bookings
As you begin to research your travel options online, note that the prices you see might not include required taxes and fees. Click through to the purchase page—but don’t type in a credit card number yet!—to see how much that cruise or hotel will really cost. This way you can compare deals.

Travel documents
While some documents—and their basic fees—are unavoidable if you leave the country, needing them in a rush can raise the price significantly.

Passport
$135 Cost of an adult’s first U.S. passport
$60 Additional cost if you need it in 3 weeks or less

About 1 in 4 passport applications are expedited

Visa
Required by some countries, these may have their own costs and rush fees.

Apply at least two months before your trip so you don’t have to pay extra. If you just need a renewal, you’ll also save yourself an in-person visit to a passport agency.

Source: U.S. Department of State

Travel insurance
Consider what’s really at stake before you buy in. It might be worth it for an expensive family trip if an ill-timed illness or injury would wreck your plans. But not if you got a cheap, last-minute ticket to visit friends or family. You might avoid the decision entirely if you pay for your trip with a credit card that offers travel insurance as a benefit. 

Transportation

Air travel
Airline fees keep rising and make up 40% of revenue for some airlines. Remember that charges might apply on each leg. Find out your airline’s policies before you go. 

Carry-ons
Up to an extra $100 if you got a budget ticket. Do the math ahead of time to see if checking makes more sense.

Checked luggage 
The larger—or heavier—it gets, the more you may pay. Pack light! You’ll have more room for the stuff you buy at your destination.

Seat selection
If you don’t want an assigned seat—which might be between two others or in a row where you can’t recline—you could pay more to get one next to a window or your travel companion.

To and from the airport
Consider public transportation. But be sure to double-check your options based on your arrival and departure times.

Car rental
The rate you reserve may not include taxes, add-ons like GPS, or airport surcharges, which can exceed 10%. Also, insurance can cost $20 to $40 per day in the U.S.

Opt out of insurance if you are covered by your own auto insurance policy or through the credit card you use to book the rental. Just make sure you’re covered (Link: https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/saving-budgeting/rental-car-insurance-coverage) for damage to both your rental and another car. 

Sources: Time; U.S. News & World Report; SmarterTravel.com

Accommodations

Hotel upcharges
Consult the front desk before you drink that bottle of water or grab a snack from the minibar. Wi-Fi, phone calls and in-room movies might also add to your bill.

Resort fees
If you’re considering a hotel with special amenities, or one in a popular vacation destination, find out before you book if you’ll face this common per-night fee.  

$24.93 Average resort fee per night
1,600+ Number of U.S. hotels charging non-advertised resort fees on top of their nightly rate

Facility fees
Ask about usage fees for the business center or the spa’s pool.

Hotel parking
Per-night charges can be steep, but outside lots or parking meters might not save you much. Taking cabs might be cheaper.  

Ask politely at checkout if you can get fees removed—especially if you have a good reason, like you were there on business, so you couldn’t enjoy the amenities.

Sources: Travelers United; Juniper Research; Washington Post; CityPASS

While you’re there

Activity fees
Research online travel forums to get money-saving tips for events, sights and activities in your destination. For example, bundle options, such as CityPASS, can cut sightseeing costs in major cities by up to 50%.

Foreign transaction fees
These could apply to every purchase you make with your credit card in another country. Learn more about how to pay when traveling abroad (Link: https://bettermoneyhabits.bankofamerica.com/en/saving-budgeting/how-to-pay-when-traveling-abroad). And consider applying for a card that doesn’t charge these fees. 

3% Common credit card fee on transactions outside the U.S.

Cell phone data or roaming charges
$54 BILLION Total roaming charges assessed by operators worldwide in 2016 

Check your data allowance before you leave. You might want to increase it while you’re away from home, and if you’re headed abroad, consider signing up for an inexpensive international plan. If you can’t do these things, you could switch your phone to airplane mode and limit your internet use to Wi-Fi hotspots.

Consider a Bank of America® Travel Rewards card or Premium Rewards® card for extras like travel benefits or concierge service for hard-to-get tickets.(Link: https://www.bankofamerica.com/credit-cards/)

Close Disclaimer
The material provided on this website is for informational use only and is not intended for financial or investment advice. Bank of America and/or its affiliates, and Khan Academy, assume no liability for any loss or damage resulting from one’s reliance on the material provided. Please also note that such material is not updated regularly and that some of the information may not therefore be current. Consult with your own financial professional when making decisions regarding your financial or investment options.

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