How to Avoid Hidden Fees

how to avoid hidden fees

Do you need to learn how to avoid hidden fees? They are the bane of the consumer’s existence, and many of the fees you need to avoid require you to think more like a small business entrepreneur than a regular consumer.

What does this mean? Basically, by looking at your purchases, service contracts, rental agreements, and other areas as a business owner with low margins, you start to look for ways to reduce costs. What does “low margin” mean?

It refers to the profit margin of any business with high overhead. The “margin” is profit and there are many industries that operate this way–the service industry, especially restaurants, must cut corners in every way it can to operate successfully. You can use these businesses as an example to avoid hidden fees.

Pay On Time

Small business owners learn quickly that late fees (while not specifically “hidden”) add up quickly. Don’t pay late, it always costs you more. The late charges add up, and you may be pushed into a different category of consumer by paying late more than once–your credit options with that company may be restricted depending on the nature and severity of the late payments.

Read The Fine Print Every Time

If you rent a vehicle, are you the driver responsible for repairs and maintenance? The maintenance portion is not applicable for short-term rentals from your favorite car rental agency, but what kinds of insurance coverages do you have with the rental or via your insurance agent for windshield dings, dent-and-run parking lot situations where you are left with no clue who damaged the vehicle, etc. Know your rights AND responsibilities where rentals go.

And what about for long-term vehicle rentals? Is it worth the money to rent a vehicle instead of buying one if you have to pay for the upkeep, too? Many rental agreements offer something like a three-year maintenance warranty, but if you keep the car longer than you expected to, you may find yourself needing to pay for the repairs. Learn what the rules are and plan to exchange or buy the vehicle accordingly.

Hidden Fees Lurk Everywhere

What happens if you take out a cash advance on your credit card? This type of unsecured lending often comes with considerably higher interest rates than your regular transactions. It’s a fee that surprises some who didn’t read the terms and conditions of their credit card before using those blank balance transfer checks or cash advance checks.

Know BEFORE you spend. You can avoid hidden fees in these cases simply by thinking through all the different types of transactions you might need (including cash advances) and looking up the rules for those transactions in your service agreement.

And your cable provider and phone provider aren’t much better–do you travel often? Do you have data caps or roaming fees associated with your cell phone service? Are you paying your cable company for cable options you never use?

There are extra fees associated with food delivery; Grubhub and Uber Eats have surcharges that can add up to ten dollars or more per food delivery and that is without the tip. Is it better to order for pickup? “Better” may not be the same as “cheaper”, but for those who need that ten dollars elsewhere, food delivery services are an option worth looking twice at for those surprise fees.

Even apartment renters can’t escape–there are often convenience fees associated with online rent payments–you can sometimes avoid these fees by learning what the apartment complex owner or management company’s preferred payment method is and using that instead.

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