What to look for in hidden fees on travel sites

USA Today Technology 2 months ago

LOS ANGELES — How did a hotel room offer of $137 a night for two nights turn into $373.38? 

Hidden fees. 

Travel websites are notorious for hooking you with great offers, only to see them balloon to something you never agreed to in the first place. 

"Once you get engaged, it's just too exhausting to move on," is the theory behind it, believes Richard Bangs, a former Expedia executive.  

In the interest of saving you aggravation and time, some tips on what to look for when you visit these top travel sites:

Hotwire

This hotel site picks up unused hotel room inventory and sells it at a promised discount without telling you the exact name of the property before you book. So a two-night stay at a downtown hotel in Seattle sounds great at $137 a night. But then Hotwire tacks on a $95.38 "tax recovery and fees" surcharge and the bill grows to $373. Explanation: "We retain our service fees as compensation in servicing your travel reservation."

Priceline

This is another site promising discount rooms, but check your discount first as you will pay in the form of fees for the service. Priceline calls it "compensation for our services and to cover the costs of your reservation, including, for example, customer service costs."

Expedia

The dominant site for airline tickets and hotel rooms – it also owns Hotels.com, CheapTickets, Orbitz, Hotwire, Travelocity and Trivago – doesn't appear to tack on fees, but you need to be on your toes when booking. For instance, we found a hotel in New York City for $119.24 a night. Two nights, plus $21.09 for taxes, should come to $259.57 by our estimations, but Expedia's checkout put us at $280.66. What we missed at first: We were supposed to multiply both the room rate and the taxes by two.

Also, look out for great airline fares on Expedia – but be sure to note the airport listed first. We tried to book flights to Seattle from Los Angeles International Airport, where we were quoted $169 roundtrip, versus an average of $300 and up on other airlines. Once we clicked enough buttons to get to the cart, we saw that the flight actually originated from Ontario Airport, some 60 miles from home, not LAX. 

AirBNB

The discount hotel alternative got a well-deserved reputation for offering lower-priced overnight stays, and the ire of the hotel industry, but the list of fees (cleaning, administration) have a way of making a $50-a-night stay creep really high. That's how a $96 a night townhouse in San Diego for two nights gets to $308. One-third of the cost are fees – $58 for cleaning, $32 for "service" and $26 in taxes. Of the service fee, Airbnb says, "This helps us run our platform and offer services like 24/7 support on your trip."

Booking.com

The hotel prices here are pretty straightforward, even though you have to navigate your way through "secret deal," offers that discount the hotel slightly, sometimes paying off. A room for two nights in Las Vegas, home of the notorious "resort fees," that consumers hate paying, is simple: $178  (Booking.com adds the two nights together to give the total that will show up on your credit card) plus $33.18 in tax (note, both night taxes are combined) and then the dreaded $70 resort fee, bringing the tab to $281.18.  

Trivago

Trivago Is a site that advertises heavily on TV, and, as one of the Expedia member websites, it comparison shops and generally brings people back to Expedia. Which is what happened when we searched for two nights in St. Louis, chose the Pear Tree Inn for $115 a night, growing to $268.94 once we multiplied the room taxes and room rate. 

So what can consumers do? Aside from being a vigilant shopper, there's not a lot, except complain on social media, and "keep searching," until you find a site with fewer fees, says Bangs, who now runs the travel photography app Steller.co 

Follow USA TODAY's Jefferson Graham (@jeffersongraham) on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. 


Source link
Read also:
Business Insider › Lifestyle › 6 days ago
PayPal does have fees in some cases, but they're pretty easy to avoid as long as you're making basic transactions within the US. Fees are usually associated with using a credit or debit card to fund payments, sending money abroad, or using PayPal as a...
Forbes › Lifestyle › 2 hours ago
How much are airlines really making from baggage fees? In the U.S. airlines are making $5 billion each year alone. Over the last 12 months, airlines such as American Airlines and JetBlue have increased their baggage fees which have largely led to the...
Business Insider › Traveling › 2 months ago
Premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card® from American Express generally charge high annual fees, but they offer lots of benefits in exchange. One such benefit is an annual travel credit: essentially a statement credit that...
CNBC › Finance › 3 days ago
Got the travel bug? Here's a look at the world's top 6 'jumping off' points for adventure travel in 2020, according to the Travel Channel's new 2020 Leisure Travel Forecast.
USA Today › Lifestyle › 6 days ago
Social sites turn strangers into travel companions
USA Today › Traveling › 2 months ago
Here are a few ways how you can avoid ATM fees when you travel.
The Sun › Traveling › 3 weeks ago
WOWCHER are looking for one lucky person to travel the world for free for a year to be their Travel Ambassador. Even better, they will pay you £25,000 and you can take all your mates as well. The Wowcher Travel Ambassador would travel to 40 different...
The Hill › 3 weeks ago
The number of illegal cultivation sites for marijuana in Nevada have plunged since the drug was legalized in the state.Twenty illegal cultivation sites were destroyed in 2018, compared to more th...
Business Insider › Lifestyle › 2 weeks ago
It's easy to delete your frequently visited Safari sites on a Mac computer by removing individual icons or hiding the entire list. Your frequently visited sites will usually appear when you open a new Safari tab, and this feature is used for quickly...
Business Insider › Automobile › 1 day ago
Families who want to save on airfare should watch out for checked baggage fees. These fees are typically $25 or $30 per bag, which could add up to hundreds of dollars for a family on a round-trip flight. There are numerous ways to avoid the costs of...
Sign In

Sign in to follow sources and tags you love, and get personalized stories.

Continue with Google
OR