Here’s How to Spot and Avoid Hidden Fees

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Woman upset by hidden fee
Kmpzzz /

Hidden fees are spreading throughout the economy. Everything from restaurants to travel companies to ride-hailing services now tack on extra fees to help these businesses cope with inflation, says the Better Business Bureau.

Of course, what is good for businesses may be bad for your wallet. The BBB suggests several tips for both spotting and avoiding hidden fees.

Ways to spot hidden fees include:

  • Be wary of promoted prices. The BBB says more businesses now quote an initial, attractive price and then add fees during the buying process. These may include everything from facility fees to fuel surcharges and even “kitchen appreciation” fees at restaurants.
  • Watch for “cramming.” This illegal technique hits you with service charges you did not authorize. Examples might include a “voicemail fee” or charges shrouded in generic terms such as the all-encompassing “other fees.”
  • Look more closely at your bills. If a company adds a “hidden” fee, it is unlikely to trumpet the decision. So look at your bills to see if anything new has been added.

Techniques to avoid having to pay hidden fees include:

  • Pay with cash. Many companies either add extra fees to credit card payments or offer a discount to shoppers who pay in cash.
  • Comparison shop. When comparing services from competitors, it can be tricky to uncover who charges fees and who does not. However, research and a little persistence should yield valuable information about such fees.
  • Forget loyalty. If a favorite business you regularly patronize suddenly adds a fee, let the company know and see if you can get it removed. If the company won’t budge, research competitors to see if you can get a better deal there.

For more on coping with inflation, check out:

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.