Most big businesses these days have a bad habit of hiding nasty fees built in with their legitimate and helpful services. These fees are typically stuffed into the fine print of your contracts or service agreements where only someone who is paid big bucks to look through at the world through a dark lens and a magnifying glass (lawyers) could decipher. At Credit Cage, we realize that the average consumer does not want to take the time to read deep into the fine print on their every day contracts. That is why we’ve compiled a list of the most common places you can find hidden fees in daily life, and how you can learn to avoid them. So read up, Johnny!
This is one of the more obvious examples. Without mentioning the extremely high interest rates on most credit cards today, a lot of credit card agreements come chock full of additional fees too. Oftentimes you’ll see credit cards offering promotional interest rates as low as no interest at all for the first 6-12 months. The goal of these cards is typically to get you to transfer your debt to these cards. Once they’ve sucked you into making the transfer and after the grace period ends, the interest shoots up. These offers typically come with hidden transfer fees on top of it all, sometimes as high as 5%.
Another example of hidden credit card fees is for receiving a cash advance. Many credit card companies charge a fee for this. Most credit card companies also have fees for late payments, and some even have fees for NOT using your card! It’s very important that you read into your credit card agreements and understand the stipulations that have been placed into them. You don’t want to have a credit card sitting around accruing fees and hurting your credit score.
We call hotels the ninjas of slipping in hidden fees. With the rise of the internet and having to offer such low rates through travel partners, the hotel industry has had to improvise and find other ways to make up the revenue. You’ll find that tons of hotels now charge for internet usage (slow internet, too!), use of the safe in room, and even charge you to cancel your room. Some hotels now charge more for you to have the “ability” to cancel for “free”. And don’t forget, they still charge for the things they always have, like the hotel snacks and mini bar. Pack your own snacks!
Cell phone companies are notoriously the worst about adding hidden fees. It’s a well known issue that the prices they advertise in stores and on TV are almost never even close to what you end up paying after taxes and fees. It’s also almost impossible to ever add up the hidden fees without signing on to a contract first. It’s important that you go through your cell phone bill each much, and do research on what you are being charged for. Do the research into why they are charging it and make sure that it isn’t something that you could be having removed from your bill.
Another way the mobile phone companies get you is through setting limits on text messages, data, and minutes that they charge you for exceeding. They also love to charge you for “roaming” out of your normal regional areas. Make sure you are aware of any possible charges that could come from traveling before you go on a trip.
A big trick you’ll see from the cable companies is that the price you sign up for is usually actually a “promotional price” which also usually includes a few “free” premium channels. What they don’t tell you, and what you don’t know unless you read your contract, is that after 1 or 2 years (depending on the agreement) your promotional rate will expire and you will be paying more each month. Not to mention the “free” premium channels wont be free anymore and you’ll be charged monthly for those until you call and cancel. Sometimes it can be effective to call the company and threaten to cancel your service. Cable companies have been known to extend promotional periods in order to retain customers. They make most of their money off customers who become complacent and accept their “new” price.
Bank fees have been on the rise for years now. So much so that the list of banks that don’t charge ridiculous fees is much, much smaller than those that do. These days it is almost impossible to bank for free. Banks have started nickel and diming their customers for every little thing. Whether it’s not having enough money in your account, having too much, not moving money, the list goes on. Some banks have even resorted to charging for in person service and even ATM usage.
Grocery stores are a bit different than what you would think about when it comes to hidden fees. They don’t actually charge hidden fees. Actually, what has been happening over the years is that, grocery stores have been slowly reducing the amount of product they are selling you all while keeping the same price. Whether it be loafs of bread having less slices, bottles holding less fluid, or cereal boxes and bags of chips containing less, the list goes on. Companies have been slowly dwindling the amount of food contained in their products while maintaining the same pricing and you haven’t noticed!
Some say that this is the food industry’s way of avoiding “raising” prices. In effect, they are raising prices but most consumers are not noticing. Some might call that a win-win, but we call it a scam! Beware of this practice and make sure to watch out and only purchase items you truly get your moneys worth on.
This list has been just a very limited list of examples. These days hiding fees and price gouging has become the norm. You need to put your thinking cap on and start analyzing where your money is going in all areas of life. Consider starting a budget for yourself and your family. Becoming more aware and making changes to your daily finances is the best and truly only way to improve your financial situation long term.