Junk fees “add up to hundreds of dollars a month,” President Joe Biden said in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
A Junk Fee Prevention Act would ban or reduce several of them — but what are they?
Oh, you know ‘em
Ever book a hotel at what seems like a decent price, only to realize there’s also a “resort fee”? That’s a junk fee — an added cost that pops up when it’s time to pay.
Some other examples:
- Service fees when buying event tickets; one review found that sports tickets can rack up service, delivery, and other fees that amount to 50% of their face value.
- Fees airlines charge for families to sit together.
- Early termination fees for TV, internet, and phone services, which can exceed $200.
- Hotel resort fees, which average ~$42 per night, cover amenities like WiFi, gyms, and pools — even if you don’t use them
It’s often hard to avoid these fees because they’re not included in the upfront price, and in some cases — like when buying event tickets — buyers have few alternatives.
What’s the impact?
A 2019 Consumer Reports survey found 85%+ of Americans have experienced junk fees. And while you might not notice them on a daily basis, they do add up.
US hotels raked in an estimated $2.9B in resort fees in 2018. Airlines made $8.6B in seat change and baggage fees in 2019. (Notably, several airlines ditched change fees amid the pandemic; in 2022, US airlines made ~$5B in baggage fees and just $697k in change fees).
As inflation drives the cost of everyday things higher, added fees could be the difference between a family vacation and staying home.
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