The Sneaky Ways Travel Sites Hike Your Costs

Surprised man at computer
Photo by Dean Drobot /

Ever log into a travel site and discover a great deal — only to find out that it’s not so terrific once the full bill is calculated?

Travel sites often add fees that can turn a bargain into a boondoggle. USA Today recently highlighted these practices at some of the best-known travel sites.

A few examples from the newspaper’s findings:

  • Hotwire: A two-night stay at a Seattle hotel jumped from $137 a night to a $373 total once a “tax recovery and fees” surcharge was added.
  • Priceline: USA Today notes that Priceline charges fees as “compensation for our services and to cover the costs of your reservation, including, for example, customer service costs.”
  • Airbnb: Fees — for things like cleaning and administration — pushed the cost of one $96-a-night San Diego townhouse to $308 for two nights.
  • Trivago: The cost of a two-night stay in St. Louis ballooned from an advertised $115 a night to a $268.94 total thanks to room taxes.

USA Today concludes that consumers cannot do much to fight these fees. Instead, it cites the advice of former Expedia executive Richard Bangs: Remain vigilant, complain on social media and keep searching for a better deal.

How to score travel bargains

Although it can be hard to beat the fees on these sites, there are other ways to save on your next vacation.

For example, if you are an older traveler, you can score bargains just for being a certain age. Find out more in “9 Great Travel Discounts That Begin in Your 60s.”

A travel rewards card also can save you cash the next time you go away. We’ve rounded up some top options in “The Best Travel Rewards Card on the Market.” You can also compare travel rewards cards using Money Talks News’ credit card search tool.

Finally, remember that it’s tough enough to find good deals when your thinking cap is screwed on tight. Let your guard down, and you’ll end up paying far more than you should.

We zero in on some of the biggest travel money traps in “These Are the Most Ridiculous Fees in Travel.

How do you save on travel costs? Share your tips in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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