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Hidden fees are nickel-and-diming you out of your savings

Consumer Reports says hidden fees can cost the average family thousands of dollars every year. Photo: Getty Images

The $1,000 Challenge is sponsored by Zip Mortgage powered by Zions Bank. Visit zionsbank.com/zip. Loans subject to credit approval, terms and conditions apply. NMLS 467014. Equal Housing Lender.


Ah. Hidden fees. Wouldn’t it be nice, when you’re booking a hotel or a flight or buying concert tickets, if the price you’re seeing on the screen was the actual price you paid?

According to a survey conducted by Consumer Reports, 85% of Americans have encountered unexpected or hidden fees in the last two years. Of those, two-thirds of them say they’re paying more now than they were five years ago, and nearly everyone (96%) found the hidden fees infuriating.

Fighting back against hidden fees

Anna Laitin, the director of financial policy at Consumer Reports, says the magazine is trying to build a movement to fight back against these hidden fees and is asking for help from the public to make that happen. They are looking for people to submit the details of the hidden fees that they have encountered.

The whatthefee.com website was created to gain a firmer handle on what is going on with hidden fees and find out how prevalent they really are.

Congress has enacted legislation that mandates mandatory fees on airlines be listed in the final price, but Laitin says companies can still add in other fees dealing with things like baggage, late, or seating fees.

Laitin advises people who encounter hidden fees to try to appeal. 3 out of every 10 people in the Consumer Reports survey said they fought back against a hidden fee. Of those, two-thirds said their fight was successful.

Another tip, according to Laitin, is to review your statements periodically — even if you have set up automatic bill-pay. That way, if an unexpected fee has crept into your account, you’ll be more likely to spot it and be in a better position to question it.

Reviewing your bills for hidden fees can be an easy way to get a handle on where your money is going. You could even take the money you’re saving by reducing those fees and set it aside to build up your emergency fund as part of the $1,000 Challenge.

The $1,000 Challenge

Join our secret $1,000 Challenge Facebook group, where you can share your progress toward $1,000 in savings, get tips from others, and share tips of your own.

 

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