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Fees are everywhere. It seems like irrespective of how carefully you spend your money, you are always getting hit with some superfluous surcharge. At the bank, while traveling or just when going about your daily business, fees are on the rise in seemingly all industries — and never just in quantity, but in price. Many times, they’re so well obscured that you find yourself paying fees without even realizing it.
We’ve compiled an inventory of essentially the most expensive, egregious, unexpected and just downright unreasonable charges of 2015; our guide includes data on average expenses, the most important offenders in each category and how you can keep these fees from sneaking up and taking a bite out of your budget. From bank and travel fees to cellphone and health care expenses, read on for the 31 worst fees in America.
1. Worst Bank Fee: Overdraft Fees
Why: Spending or withdrawing more cash than what’s in your checking account will trigger a hefty overdraft penalty out of your bank, even if you were short by just some cents. In 2014, the average U.S. overdraft fee was $30, based on a study by Moebs Services. That can go even higher; NerdWallet has clocked in some of the industry’s worst at $36, charged by BB&T, PNC, SunTrust and U.S. Bank.
The fix: The best approach to avoid overdraft fees is to simply become hypervigilant about your account balance and monitor your finances always. Conversely, consider switching to a credit union or online bank that gives free checking products or opt-out practices. If you want to maintain your current bank, you may attempt to get the overdraft fee waived: Appearing in person at your bank branch is helpful, as is remaining polite and courteous. Emphasize that the overdraft was only one error in an otherwise exemplary banking record.
Why: Did you know that bank tellers can charge you for their time? In line with CNBC, a growing variety of banks have adopted teller fees in an try to encourage customers to make use of online-only bank accounts and features. These include PNC’s Virtual Wallet account, which charges a $7 monthly fee if account holders want access to in-branch banking, and Bank of America’s eBanking checking account, which assesses an $8.95 monthly maintenance fee unless the account holder uses only self-service options for deposits and withdrawals.
The fix: Obviously, the simplest approach to get around this charge is to abide by the foundations; indeed, banks are making it easier and easier to never have to enter a branch as of late, with remote check deposit, mobile apps and plentiful ATM access. There are also usually other ways to waive a teller fee; within the case of PNC’s Virtual Wallet, you will get around the monthly charge by maintaining an average balance of $500, receiving a $500 direct deposit each month or meeting the necessities for Virtual Wallet Student.
Why: There may be nothing stopping you from using a Chase ATM along with your Wells Fargo debit card, but because banks prefer their customers to stay within their network, there will likely be a fee tacked on to that withdrawal. And financial institutions are cashing in on it, too; The Associated Press reports that ATM fees are on the rise. The worst part is you may probably be charged two fees for using an out-of-network ATM — one by your bank, and the other by the bank whose ATM you are using.
The fix: Avoid ATM fees by staying in-network. If you end up constantly trying to find a nearby ATM, find an area credit union that offers access to a shared network of ATMs or switch to a bank that refunds ATM fees (many online banks, like Ally, Bank of Internet USA and EverBank, will do this should you meet certain requirements).
Why: Many banks put pressure on consumers to maintain a minimum monthly balance of their checking accounts; fall below the quantity they specify — for example, $2,500 — and you may very well be charged a fee, anywhere from a pair bucks to $20 or $30.
The fix: Protecting yourself from this fee might involve finding a bank account with lower requirements. Account holders of TD Bank’s Convenience Checking, for instance, only need to maintain a $100 minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee, and other accounts — especially at online-only banks — have no minimum balance requirements whatsoever.
5. Worst Bank Fee: Early Account Closure Fees
Why: Many people also do not understand that their bank would require them to keep their savings or checking account open for a minimum amount of time (often 90 to 180 days). Closing it before this grace period could subject them to an inconvenient fine — as much as $55, in response to a 2012 study by advocacy group Consumers Union.
The fix: When you’ve got regrets about opening an account and you’re dead set on closing it, minimize your activity and keep the account alive for as long because it takes to avoid being penalized.
Why: If you cannot find a selected bank statement from some time ago or you could dispute a strange charge on your account, you may ask the financial institution to investigate — but it can cost you money. TD Bank’s Convenience Checking account, for example, will charge you $25 to give you an old statement with check copies and deposit reconstructions.
The fix: A transaction must be pretty important should you need to return a very long time to search out it, and sometimes your bank is the one source. However, for the future, try syncing your accounts to apps like Mint or Spending Tracker. These will record each transaction you make and keep them searchable without the need to rent your bank.
Why: An increasing number of banks are charging customers if they want to keep receiving paper statements — and some are giving account holders certain incentives, like higher interest rates, for going paperless. If you find you’re being charged several dollars a month only for receiving a monthly statement in the mail, it could be time to re-evaluate how important that piece of paper is to you.
The fix: Your best, most modern solution is to enroll in paperless, electronic statements. You may save money, help the environment and have better access to your money 24/7.
8. Worst Bank Fee: Debit Card Replacement Fees
Why: Losing your debit card is a headache already, but adding insult to injury is the actual fact that you’re going to should pay to replace it. What’s more, the fee goes up the quicker you want a brand new piece of plastic. Banks usually will not charge you a fee if your card was stolen, but otherwise the cost averages $1.75 from bank to bank, based on U.S. News & World Report. You get what you pay for: While it is a seemingly low fee, you’ll have to attend anywhere from three to 15 business days for a brand new card. Meanwhile, in case you ask to expedite the shipping, you might pay upwards of $30 — roughly the equivalent of an overdraft fee.
The fix: Just like the insidious overdraft penalty, the key to avoiding a replacement fee is to maintain careful watch of your debit card and never lose it. When you do, attempt to take out cash through a teller and be patient until your replacement card arrives.
Why: Back in the day, some bank services was freed from charge, and a wire transfer was one of them. Today, it is yet another utility with a fee attached to it, usually between $15 and $35, depending on the bank and where the money goes. Foreign wire transfers can easily pass the $50 mark — BB&T charges $65 for its international foreign currency outgoing wires, for example.
The fix: If time is not a problem, alternative payment methods like PayPal, or the old fashioned paper check, are fee-free ways to send money. Your only cost would be waiting for funds to clear, which could take several days.
Why: Now you see some money, now you do not, and now you have been charged a fee for it: A deposited item returned fee penalizes the recipient of a check when the check writer doesn’t have enough funds in his account to cover the transaction. It’s a pernicious cost that blames you, the recipient, when you’ve got done nothing wrong.
Of the ten biggest banks, SunTrust is the worst offender, with a $40 fee for returned foreign transactions, according to MyBankTracker. The average domestic charge from bank to bank, however, is closer to $13.
The fix: The very best recourse you may take to bypass this fee is to contact the check writer first to verify that he has enough funds to clear the transaction. Do you have to be charged this fee sooner or later, try to negotiate with your bank, very like you’d with an overdraft — many financial institutions will realize you weren’t really at fault, especially you probably have a superb track record with them.
Why: You might stand to earn some money on that new investment, but you’ll also lose some in fees, too. “Most investors remain blissfully unaware that they’re paying hundreds, if not greater than $1,000, in investment fees each year,” writes Elizabeth MacBride of CNBC. In accordance with Forbes, investors are typically charged 1 percent each year on their first $1 million being managed, but this can go higher in certain cases.
The fix: Cutting your costs and fees may be so simple as comparison shopping for a brand new adviser with cheaper rates and a special investment approach. According to MacBride, recent numbers show that active and passive investors are likely to earn the same, but passive investors pay less in adviser fees. When in doubt, go with Warren Buffett’s favorite investment: the low-fee, low-risk S&P 500.
Why: Changing or canceling your airplane ticket at the last minute can be so expensive that the worth you paid in your flight may appear like pennies in comparison with what you’ll pay in fees. “Many airlines charge an affordable $25-75 for same-day changes, but any other changes and cancellations may incur some serious fees, particularly in the case of Delta (as much as $450), US Airways (as much as $750), and United (as much as $1,000),” in keeping with Hopper.com.
The fix: Planning your schedule ahead of time minimizes the possibilities of a ticket cancellation fee, but in the event that your itinerary is liable to spontaneity, hunt down refundable tickets or ticket insurance. If your bank card is airline-branded, use it to buy your tickets — you will be less likely to be hit with fees in case your plans change.
Why: Airlines across the board impose fees for bags, and raise those fees for extra and overweight luggage. It’s not just checked baggage, either; in keeping with Hopper.com, some airlines (including Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit) are beginning to get wise and charge for carry-on bags, too. (Spirit will charge non-members as much as $100 for a carry-on.) If you’re checking bags, size does matter: Expect to pay $100 for bags between 50 and 70 pounds if you are flying American, United or Delta, and $200 for bags which can be between 71 and 100 pounds.
The fix: Unless you may find a method to travel with only the clothes in your back, pack light to scale back your fees. Items like toiletries and other essentials that weigh your baggage down can easily be purchased when you reach your destination.
Why: Loss-of use fees, early return fees, multiple driver fees: It is hard to pick the worst rental car fee because there are so many. Arguably the worst — and most expensive — offender is the one-way charge. “Hertz, for example, will rent you a Toyota Corolla in Los Angeles for $553 for 2 weeks in the event you return it to Los Angeles, but you may pay $1,714 to return it to San Francisco,” in accordance with SmarterTravel.com. This fee can really feel like a slap on the wrist because it limits where you may drive.
The fix: Get around this fee by avoiding a one-way rental; plan your trip so that you will return the car in the place you picked it up. If one-way is the one option for you, try calling the rental office in your pickup city and ask them if they need your make and model at their branch in your destination city. They get a car, you dodge a fee.
Why: While that cross-continental trip is perhaps a time to get some in-flight work done, prepare to pay on your internet connection. Aside from occasional promotions, airlines charge as much as $19.95 for internet on your mobile device and as much as $49 for laptops, in accordance with Hopper.com.
The fix: If your corporation online is that imperative, take care of your computer time while waiting on the terminal. Alternatively, book your flight with an airline that’s offering a free Wi-Fi promotion; JetBlue, for instance, is currently giving customers its basic broadband internet, Fly-Fi, without spending a dime while it is in its beta stage.
Why: We wish our pets to travel with the identical comforts now we have, and airlines will not let us spare any expenses. Based on Farnoosh Torabi, writing for Yahoo Finance, it will cost you between $125 and $250 at most major airlines to have your pet travel within the cabin with you.
The fix: Is it possible to go away your pet at home with a family member or friend while you’re away? Look into options at home before you take to the skies to avoid hefty fees.
Why: Even the most well-behaved, low-maintenance children aren’t exempt from the high unaccompanied minor fee, which averages between $75 and $125 for most airlines, in accordance with Hopper.com. Pass over American, United and U.S. Airways if you don’t want to pay the $150 — and that is not including the underage passenger’s ticket price.
The fix: Do your research before booking, since some airlines do not allow minors to fly without an adult companion. As always, price compare carriers to see which offer the bottom fees.
Why: Wi-Fi connectivity is a luxury even at a luxury hotel. “High-end hotels stands out as the last place left on Earth where you must pay for wireless internet connections,” writes Scott McCartney of The Wall Street Journal. “For in-room connections, high-end hotels typically charge $10 to $20 a day” — though some run to $30.
The fix: Research the hotel chains you’re looking to stay at, compare their in-room internet prices — and aim lower. “Price-sensitive chains have made free Wi-Fi a perk to draw customers, and all want to remain competitive,” McCartney writes.
Why: The dreaded resort fee is likely one of the worst — if not in cost, then in principle. When Los Angeles resident Benjamin Brin recently filed a lawsuit against the Las Vegas Palazzo hotel, it was for a $28 resort fee that he wasn’t made aware of, in keeping with the Los Angeles Times. Ranging as high as $50 or $60 at some hotels, resort fees are especially annoying because you may still incur them even if you do not reap the benefits of the hotel’s amenities.
The fix: Call ahead to any hotel you are considering and ask if it charges a resort fee; if the hotel is not forthcoming with you, pass on staying there.
Why: What once was optional is now becoming expected. “Just a few hotels, mostly resort properties, already add mandatory gratuities on top of resort fees,” reports CNBC. For instance, guests on the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas are required to pay between $20.70 and $65.95 for a mandatory “gratuity and utility service fee.” If American hospitality chains catch on to the trend, that housekeeping tip envelope left in your room could just become a part of the room bill.
The fix: Good, frequent tipping etiquette can go a long technique to keeping hotels satisfied with their current gratuity system. Always bring cash with you when you are staying in a hotel and tip the housekeeping staff daily.
Why: Within the aftermath of the passing of the Affordable Care Act, quite a few restaurants around the country protested by tacking fees onto the bill to cover their employees’ health care. The profits did not necessarily go to their employees though; in accordance with the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s attorney general discovered in 2013 that more than 50 Bay Area eateries were profiting from the fee instead of using it to purchase health insurance.
The fix: If this fee is simply unpalatable to your finances, avoid eateries that charge it.
Why: Visits to the doctor’s office or hospital may be pricey, even when you’ve got insurance, but another expense known as the power fee could jack up the value of your medical bill even more. “Hospitals charge these fees because, like many providers, they don’t seem to be paid for a big part of what they do,” writes Tammy Worth of Medical Economics. “They get no money specifically for having an emergency room that can treat patients 24 hours a day.” Based on a 2014 report by the Connecticut attorney general’s office, these fees ranged from $100 to $1,000 within the state.
The fix: Protect yourself from the opportunity of incurring a facility fee by looking up the medical centers in your area; their websites should provide information on the services, costs and fees they charge. Double check with your health care provider to see if it covers these fees under your plan.
Why: If you’d like to purchase a new cellphone, you might have been stalled by the ominous early termination fee (ETF) you’d have to pay on your old plan. These fees depend upon how much time you may have left in your current plan, but could be substantial: Take Verizon Wireless, which charges $350 should you leave the plan early; that number goes down as you near the completion of your plan, but you will still should pay something for those who decide to terminate early.
The fix: The Federal Communications Commission suggests finding out as much as you’ll be able to a couple of carrier’s ETF, how much it costs and if it is prorated. Ask about trial periods (which typically allow customers as much as a month of service with none ETFs), or buy a prepaid phone, which carries zero fees.
Why: You’d think that the cost of upgrading a cellphone would only include the brand new device and any contractual differences — think again. Refuse to pay the “activation fee,” and you may have a brand new iPhone in your hands that does not work.
“The fee is applied to any new line of service opened with a subsidized phone on a two-year service plan,” in keeping with product comparison site WhistleOut. AT&T’s activation fee, for instance, is probably the most expensive at $40, and that charge skyrockets when you’ve got got more than one phone to activate.
“While $40 for a brand new phone line might seem affordable, if you’re moving a family of 4 or more to a new carrier, costs quickly add up,” the positioning notes. “To open an account with four new devices and lines of service will cost you an extra $160 or more on top of any upfront costs to your handsets, as well as the monthly cost of the plan itself.”
The fix: Check with your cellphone provider about any fees before you make changes to your plan, and don’t forget to look into other, more affordable plans you is perhaps overlooking.
Why: It is no secret that attending college is an expensive proposition, but prospective university-bound students should keep in mind that they’ll be paying money toward their education even before setting foot on campus. Apply to several schools in your short list, and application fees can really add up. Based on U.S. News, Stanford University’s nonrefundable $90 application fee tops the list. Other schools, including the University of Southern California and the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, will charge you upwards of $80 to use. Typically, the higher the school, the costlier it is to use.
The fix: Schedule times to go to the colleges you’d prefer to attend, and make appointments with admissions counselors to see if their school can be the suitable fit for you. Do not apply to a college you would not need to go to. By narrowing down your list of favorite colleges, you will reduce the amount of applications and save money.
Why: Studying abroad can be a valuable experience, but it is also an expensive endeavor. In keeping with ExchangeStudentWorld.com, the cost of a year-long exchange typically ranges between $9,000 and $10,000. For groups like ASSE International, studying in French Canada can be as high as $13,100. Like applying for any collegiate program, application fees are steep: In the case of the ASSE, the preliminary fee is $200 just to be considered as a candidate (though it’s refundable if you’re not accepted into this system).
The fix: If your heart is about on an exchange program, look into alternate funding methods. Community groups just like the Rotary or Kiwanis Club often sponsor local students and help with financing for his or her studies overseas. Do not forget to look into scholarship offers that can assist ease the financial cost, too.
Why: Attending graduate school takes lots of time, effort and, well, money — one reason why 40 percent of the $1.1 trillion student loan debt problem stems from graduate and professional degrees, in accordance with U.S. News. Getting into grad school is all in regards to the testing, and people fees alone are enough to send anyone into the red. To take the Graduate Record Examination, you’ll pay a $195 fee. Register late and pay an extra $25; cancel your test or change your testing location, tack on another $50.
The fix: These fees are as standard as the test itself, but they’re also only the tip of the iceberg in the case of paying for graduate school. Undergrads who are serious about continuing their education should start saving up for the inevitable test — and take studying for it very seriously. There’s nothing worse than paying $200 to fail.
Why: For many, joining a fraternity or sorority is part of the college experience. But before rushing, keep in mind that pledging isn’t cheap. On the University of Central Florida, for example, the common new sorority member can pay $1,280 and the common new fraternity member pays $605 per semester, in accordance with NerdWallet. That’s not including room and board on the local chapter house.
The fix: Are Greek fees worth it? “Students who participate in Greek organizations are more likely to graduate on time,” notes NerdWallet. “When compared with students who take a ‘victory lap’ and stay on campus an extra year, this might amount to thousands of dollars in tuition savings.”
Why: It is like the resort fee of homeownership. Residents of gated communities, condominiums and the like typically belong to a homeowners’ association (HOA) and typically owe between $200 and $400 per month for neighborhood, building, pool or tennis court upkeep, landscaping, safety and other amenities, per Investopedia. The more exclusive the community, the higher the fees.
The fix: When house hunting in an HOA community, find out what the fees and your monthly dues cover. It’s also recommended to ask for a record of community HOA fees over the past several years to trace how they’ve increased over time. House hunters might also want to think about if being a member of an HOA is correct for them. “Are you the kind of person who hates being told what to do? In that case, living in a community with an HOA may be a very frustrating experience for you,” says Investopedia. “One in all the major benefits of homeownership is the flexibility to customize and alter the property to suit your needs, but HOA rules can really interfere with this.”
Why: Those budding Thomas Edisons or Steve Jobs of the world might assume that when inspiration strikes, it costs next to nothing to unveil your idea or invention to the world. Put on your thinking cap and take a look at again: Patent fees are crazy expensive. The most affordable method is to fill out your personal patent application, which might cost about $900, based on PatentFile.org. In case your patent is accepted and on file, you may must pay frequent maintenance fees over time, starting at $400 and escalating to $1,850.
The fix: What’s a cheaper technique to get a patent? According to the site, seeking help from professionals in the field can lower the prices of going it alone: “You can have a patent attorney or agent teach you ways to jot down and file your personal patent application. This may prevent $1,000s in attorney fees but you will still get a very good, high-quality patent application.”
Why: Nothing is worse than making the investment of buying a brand new home and being saddled with a bunch of ancillary costs colloquially referred to as “junk fees.” These can include application and inspection fees, processing, courier and credit check fees, origination and broker fees, and even email and “commitment” fees, according to Realtor.com.
The fix: Know your GFE — that is the “good faith estimate” your realtor is required to provide you, which incorporates all the fees and costs associated with buying your own home. Scrutinize this list and see if some fees will be knocked off. “Since it’s in the lender’s interest to proceed with the loan, a few of these fees might be able to be reduced or eliminated simply by asking about them — especially if they seem questionable,” in keeping with Realtor.com.
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