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Worst Fees in America — And How to Avoid Them

Paul Sisolak
Worst Fees in America — And How to Avoid Them

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: Worst Fees in America — And How to Avoid Them

Overdraft fees, ATM fees, baggage fees, resort fees, shipping fees, investment fees — it seems that there’s an additional price for everything. And although some of these fees might seem small at first, they can add up substantially over time. If you aren’t careful to take active steps to protect your finances, your account could be drained paying for unnecessary fees. Luckily, there are ways you can stop wasting your money.

Click through to see how you can easily avoid these fees and save.

1. Overdraft Fees

Spending or withdrawing more money than what’s in your checking account will trigger a hefty overdraft penalty from your bank, even if you were short by just a few cents. Typical overdraft charges range from roughly $25 to $35.

How to Avoid Overdraft Fees

Be hyper-vigilant about your account balance, and monitor your finances at all times. You can also use strategies to get the overdraft fee waived. Discover more ways to avoid overdraft fees.

2. ATM Fees

Because banks prefer their customers to stay within their network, many charge a fee for a withdrawal made from a different bank. But the worst part is you might be charged two fees for using an out-of-network ATM — one by your bank, and the other by the bank whose ATM you’re using. Find out how much your bank charges.

How to Avoid ATM Fees

Stay within your network. If you find yourself constantly searching for a nearby ATM, find a local credit union that offers access to a shared network of ATMs. Or, switch to a bank that offers some type of ATM fee reimbursement. Ally and Bank of Internet USA, for example, will do this if you meet certain requirements. These ATMs don’t charge fees.

3. Checking Account Fees

Many banks put pressure on consumers to maintain a minimum monthly balance in their checking accounts; fall below the amount they specify, and you could be charged a fee.

How to Avoid Checking Account Fees

Protecting yourself from this fee might involve finding a bank account with lower requirements. Account holders of Capital One’s 360 Checking, for example, don’t have to pay any fees or minimums.

Don’t Pay Extra Fees: Banks Offering Free Checking With No Minimum Balance

4. Early Account Closure Fees

Many people don’t realize that their bank will 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 period could subject them to a fee — sometimes as much as $50, depending on the bank.

How to Avoid Early Account Closure Fees

If you have regrets about opening an account, minimize your activity and keep the account alive for as long as it takes to avoid being penalized. You might also be able to close your account for free if you follow these four basic steps.

5. Statement Copy Fees

If you want an additional copy of a bank statement, you might have to pay for it. Some banks might charge you a few bucks if you pick it up at a branch or ask the bank to mail it to you. Or, the cost might be as high as $25 for a statement with check copies and deposit reconstructions.

How to Avoid Statement Copy Fees

Make your own copies of each bank statement you receive.

6. Paper Statement Fees

Some banks charge customers if they want to keep receiving paper statements. Some give account holders certain incentives, like higher interest rates, for going paperless.

How to Avoid Paper Statement Fee

Sign up for paperless, electronic statements. You’ll save money, help the environment and have better access to your money 24/7.

7. Credit Card Fees

Credit cards are notorious for charging fees: annual fees, balance transfer fees, late fees and more. Sometimes, the fees are small. Other times, they can be a few hundred dollars, depending on your balance and the type of credit card you have.

How to Avoid Credit Card Fees

Always ask about the fees that come with your credit card. For example, does your credit card have no annual fee? If it’s a card that comes with premium perks, you might have an annual fee that’s more than $400. See the best “No Annual Fee” credit cards.

8. Debit Card Replacement Fees

Losing your debit card is a headache, but adding insult to injury is the fact that you might have to pay to replace it.

How to Avoid Debit Card Replacement Fee

Keep careful watch of your debit card and don’t lose it. If you do, try to take out cash through a teller and be patient until your replacement card arrives.

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9. Wire Transfer Fees

Wire transfer fees are usually between $15 and $35, depending on the bank and where the money is going. Foreign wire transfers can easily pass the $50 mark.

How to Avoid Wire Transfer Fees

Alternative payment methods like PayPal or the old-fashioned paper check offer fee-free ways to send money.

Related: 12 Free Ways to Send Money to Family and Friends

10. Deposited Item Returned Fees

Now you see some money, now you don’t — and now you’ve 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.

How to Avoid Deposited Item Returned Fees

The best recourse you can take to bypass this fee is to contact the check writer first to verify that he has enough funds to clear the transaction. Should you be charged this fee in the future, negotiate with your bank, much like you would with an overdraft. Some financial institutions might acknowledge you weren’t really at fault, especially if you have a good track record with them.

11. Early Withdrawal Fees

Certificate of deposit accounts are great financial tools to build your savings long term because they tend to offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. The catch: You’re usually required to leave your money in the account for a specified amount of time. If you withdraw your money before your CD’s term ends, you can get hit with a withdrawal penalty fee.

How to Avoid Early Withdrawal Fees

Once you sign up for a CD account, it’ll be difficult to avoid the penalty if you withdraw your funds too soon. Your best bet is to find a no-penalty CD.

12. Investment Fees

You might earn more money investing with a broker, but you’ll also lose some of it in fees. According to Advisory HQ, investors are typically charged about 1 percent each year on their first $1 million being managed. Be mindful of how much your 401k charges in fees, too. High expense ratios are a type of hidden fee to watch for in retirement.

How to Avoid Investment Fees

Cutting your costs and fees might be as simple as looking for a new financial advisor with cheaper rates. Or, try a new investment approach.

13. Ticket Change Fees

Changing or canceling your airplane ticket at the last minute can be so expensive that the price you paid for your flight might seem like pennies compared to what you’ll pay in fees. For example, Delta Airlines might charge you $200 if you change your ticket.

How to Avoid Ticket Change Fees

Planning your schedule ahead of time minimizes the chances of a ticket cancellation fee. But in the event that your itinerary is likely to vary, choose an airline that doesn’t charge ticket change fees — like Southwest.

Fly for Less: Hidden Fees Airlines Charge You

14. Baggage Fees

Many airlines charge baggage fees, and some raise those fees for extra and overweight luggage. It’s not just checked baggage, either; some airlines charge for carry-on bags as well.

How to Avoid Baggage Fees

Pack light to reduce your fees. Items like toiletries and other essentials that weigh your baggage down can easily be purchased once you reach your destination. And, of course, find an airline with no baggage fees.

15. Airline WiFi Fees

While that cross-continental trip might be the perfect opportunity to get some work done, prepare to pay for your internet connection. On American Airlines, for example, prices start at $10.

How to Avoid Airline WiFi Fees

If your business is that important, take advantage of free WiFi at the airport. Or, book your flight with an airline that’s offering a free WiFi promotion.

Related: How I Use Travel Points to Book (Almost) Free Flights

16. Pet Travel Fees

We want our pets to travel with the same comforts we have, and airlines charge for that privilege. Depending on your airline, pet travel fees can cost more than $100.

How to Avoid Pet Travel Fees

Is it possible to leave your pet at home with a family member or friend while you’re away? Look into options before you bring your pet with you.

17. Unaccompanied Minor Fees

Even the most well-behaved, low-maintenance children aren’t exempt from high unaccompanied minor fees. American and United charge a $150 fee each way.

How to Avoid Unaccompanied Minor Fees

Do your research before booking. As always, price compare airlines to see which one offers the lowest fees.

18. Hotel Room WiFi Fees

WiFi connectivity is a luxury — even at a luxury hotel. Depending on where you stay, you could possibly spend an extra $15 or so per day for internet access in your room. Be sure to watch out for secret hotel charges.

How to Avoid Hotel Room WiFi Fees

Research the hotel chains you’re interested in, compare their in-room internet prices — and aim lower.

Cut Costs: 20 Secret Ways to Save on Your Next Hotel Stay

19. Resort Fees

The dreaded resort fee is one of the worst, and it’s an everyday vacation expense you might be forgetting about. Costing you as much as $50 at some hotels, resort fees are especially annoying because you’ll still incur them even if you don’t take advantage of the hotel’s amenities, such as WiFi or the gym.

How to Avoid Resort Fees

Call ahead to any hotel or resort you’re considering, and ask if it charges a resort fee. If the answer is yes, pass on staying there.

Learn More: 50 Hotel Secrets Only Insiders Know

20. Gratuity Fees

What once was optional is now typically expected. Depending on where you stay, gratuities might be mandatory.

How to Avoid Gratuity Fees

See if your hotel or resort offers all-inclusive packages that include gratuities. And don’t pay twice in gratuity. Always ask if your hotel charges a mandatory gratuity fee before leaving extra cash out for housekeeping.

21. Shipping Fees

Online shopping is convenient, but it can get pretty expensive — especially if you have to pay a shipping fee of $20 or more on top of your expensive purchase.

How to Avoid Shipping Fees

Sometimes, you can get free shipping during a retailer’s promotional period or if you spend a specific dollar amount. But, you can always pay less if you shop at retailers that offer year-round free shipping.

22. Facility Fees

Visits to the doctor’s office or hospital can be pricey, even if you have insurance. But another expense, known as the “facility fee,” could increase the price of your medical bill even more. These fees are used to cover hospital stays, lab tests, X-rays and more.

How to Avoid Facility Fees

Protect yourself from the possibility of incurring a facility fee by looking up the medical centers in your area. Their websites should have information on the services, costs and fees they charge. Also, double-check with your healthcare provider to see if it covers these fees under your plan.

23. Early Termination Fees

If you choose to break your cellphone contract and cancel your service before your term ends, you might have to pay an early termination fee. This cost can range from around $150 to more than $300, depending on your carrier.

How to Avoid Early Termination Fees

The Federal Communications Commission suggests finding out as much as you can about a carrier’s ETF, how much it costs and if it’s prorated. Also, ask about trial periods, which typically allow customers service without any ETFs.

Minimize Monthly Spend: Tips and Tricks to Cut Your Phone and Cable Bill in Half

24. Activation or Upgrade Fees

You might have to pay an upgrade fee if you purchase a new mobile device to replace an old device, or an activation fee when you get a new line of service. Verizon, for example, charges a $30 upgrade fee. And, AT&T charges up to $45 for activation and upgrade fees if your device was purchased with an installment agreement.

How to Avoid Activation Fees

Check with your cellphone provider about any fees before you make changes to your plan. And don’t forget to look into more affordable plans.

25. College Application Fees

It’s no secret that attending college is expensive, but prospective students should keep in mind that they’ll be paying for their education even before setting foot on campus. Apply to several schools on your short list, and application fees can really add up. Stanford, Columbia and Yale all charge fees ranging from $80 to $90, for example.

How to Avoid College Application Fees

Don’t apply to a school you wouldn’t want to attend. By narrowing down your list of favorite colleges, you’ll reduce the number of applications and save money.

26. Student Exchange Fees

Studying abroad can be a valuable experience, but it’s also an expensive endeavor. According to ExchangeStudentWorld, the cost of a year-long exchange typically ranges from $9,000 to $10,000.

How to Avoid Student Exchange Fees

If your heart is set on an exchange program, look into alternative funding methods. Search for groups that sponsor local students, and don’t forget to look into scholarships that can help ease the financial cost.

27. Test Registration Fees

Getting into graduate school is all about the testing, and those fees alone are enough to send anyone’s balance into the red. To take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), you’ll pay a $205 fee. Register late, and pay an extra $25; change your testing location, and tack on another $50.

How to Avoid Test Registration Fees

These fees are as standard as the test itself, but they’re also only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to 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 seriously so they don’t have to take it twice. And ask yourself: Is graduate school really worth it?

28. Sorority and Fraternity Fees

For many, joining a fraternity or sorority is part of the college experience. But before rushing in, remember that pledging isn’t cheap. Depending on the organization, you can expect to pay a few thousand dollars in fees.

How to Avoid Sorority and Fraternity Fees

Really ask yourself if Greek fees are worth it. If the answer is yes, there’s not much you can do to avoid it. But, picking up a part-time job and learning how to budget can help you afford them.

29. HOA Fees

Homeowners association fees are like the resort fees of home ownership. Residents of gated communities, condominiums and the like typically belong to an HOA and owe between $200 and $400 per month for neighborhood, building, pool or tennis court upkeep and other amenities. The more exclusive the community, the higher the fees.

How to Avoid HOA Fees

When house hunting in an HOA community, find out what your monthly dues are. It’s also recommended to ask for a record of HOA fees over the last several years to track how they’ve increased over time.

30. Mortgage Junk Fees

Nothing is worse than buying a new home and being saddled with a bunch of “junk fees.” These can include application and inspection fees, underwriting fees, processing fees and more, according to Realtor.com. Make sure to ask your lender what fees will be included.

How to Avoid Mortgage Junk Fees

Understand all of the estimated costs of getting a mortgage loan. Ask for a loan estimate, which should include your interest rate, monthly payment, total closing costs and more, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This form will help you compare loans and pick the best mortgage for your situation.

Click through to find out the best banks that have no fees.