ATLANTA — U.S. consumers waste billions of dollars each year on what are known as junk fees, like resort fees, airline fees and credit card late fees.
Proposed new legislation to get rid of junk fees is making its way through the legislature, but Channel 2 Consumer Advisor Clark Howard says they are ways that you can avoid them right now.
To illustrate just how big of an impact junk fees can have, Howard planned a fake trip to a concert in Las Vegas.
The Vegas hotel he found priced at $622 a night actually has a $160 resort fee, which brings the price to $781. The concert tickets were initially priced at $270, but with a $48.50 fee, the real cost is over $344.
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“I feel like there’s not a lot of transparency in what those processing fees are,” consumer Shelby Lewis said.
“It’s horrible. You think you’re paying one price and you turn around and you’re sometimes paying double what you expected to pay,” consumer Doug Sleezer said.
The Junk Fee Prevention Act was introduced in Congress earlier this year and aims “to limit and eliminate excessive, hidden and unnecessary fees imposed on consumers.
Without a guarantee that it will become law, Howard says you need to take your time and read before clicking to purchase anything.
The cheapest airline ticket you find could become the most expensive by the time you add in luggage and seat fees, he says.
What can be even more frustrating is when the mandatory junk fees are attached to your bank account. Overdraft fees can be as high as $37 per transaction. Banks like Citi, Ally, Capital One and Bank of America have gotten rid of overdraft fees.
If your bank still offers overdraft protection, Howard suggests getting rid of it and instead signing up for text alerts when your funds are running low.
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The Clark Howard Consumer Action Center crunched the numbers and found that Americans spend more than one billion dollars each year on rental application fees.
“I ended up paying so many fees, I almost just went to the last place I went because I was like, ‘At this point, I’ve almost paid a whole month of rent,’” consumer Salih Muhammad said.
Howard suggests using websites like apartments.com, Avail, Trulia, Zillow and Zumper to help make sure you want to live at the property before placing down some money. He also says to make sure you check your credit before applying.
He says what you don’t know can hurt you, so make sure you stay vigilant in the hunt for junk fees.
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