You finally made your travel arrangements and are looking forward to spending time with friends and family this holiday season. But there may be a few things you didn’t plan for, and these hidden costs can wreak havoc on your budget.
Seemingly insignificant expenses, like purchasing bottled water from the hotel fridge, can add up over the entire trip. Fortunately, many of these holiday expenses can be avoided because coverage is likely already included with another program. Here are some hidden holiday costs that can easily be avoided with simple planning.
If you're planning a getaway this holiday, make sure you take a look at Priceline, Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia, and Kayak first. Subscribe to our alerts for these sites, and you'll always get the best deals on airfare, hotel, and rentals year-round.
1. Car rental insurance
Most basic credit cards have car rental insurance coverage built into their list of features. Before getting talked into purchasing expensive rental insurance from the car rental company, call your credit card provider and inquire about your coverage.
Do they provide collision coverage and other insurance for rental cars? How many days are included and do you have to pay extra? If you’re going on an extended trip you may need to purchase additional coverage if the credit card company is short.
It’s also a good idea to chat with your current car insurance provider to see if your existing policy includes rental cars. Either way, you’re likely to already have coverage for this added expense.
2. Trip cancellation coverage
The same principal applies to travel insurance as it does to rental car insurance. Most credit cards and discount travel programs, like AAA, already have trip cancellation and travel insurance built into their features. Verify your current program’s fine print and see what kind of coverage they provide for your travel plans. You may not need to purchase that additional trip cancellation coverage from your travel broker after all.
In the event that you need to cancel or change your travel plans, comprehensive trip insurance will reimburse any expenses you paid out of pocket, for you and your family. Most credit cards offer coverage up to $1,500 for no extra charge, so be sure to review their terms for purchasing additional trip cancellation coverage.
3. Checked bag fees
Overpacking can cause a lot of headaches (literally, because the bag will be so heavy) as well as extra costs to pay for a checked bag. Do your part to pack light and always opt for a carry-on in lieu of checking a bag.
However, if you do find that you need to check a bag for this holiday travel season, look for an airline that offers free checked bags. Even if the airline tickets are a bit more costly, it could save you money overall if the checked bag fee is included.
Again, verify whether or not your credit card includes these fees as well. Most airline specific credit cards allow cardholders to have one or more checked bags for free, even for additional family members.
4. Hotel and airport ATM fees
Everyone needs some extra cash during the holidays, and I do mean “cash” as in the actual green stuff. This usually leads to running over to the nearest ATM at your hotel or in the airport and withdrawing money. But while this is convenient, you’ll pay for it with extra ATM fees.
Typically, the more well-known the bank, the higher their ATM fees will be. To avoid these fees, simply check the list of in-network ATMs that your bank is partnered with. Usually there are thousands of participating ATMs for you to choose from, many right down the street. So there’s no need to fork over up to $5 to access your own money.
And don’t forget to check with your bank to see if they will reimburse any ATM fees you do incur while on holiday. This list of banks details exactly how many of them will refund their customers for any ATM fees incurred.
5. Foreign transaction fees
If you’re planning to travel overseas during this holiday season, double check that you won’t be charged foreign transaction fees for making international purchases. Talk with your bank or credit card company to verify their policies and see which cards have a foreign transaction fee attached to them.
It may not be as convenient but switching out your credit cards for one without a foreign transaction fee could save you anywhere from 2.7% to 3% on every transaction. There are many debit and credit cards that don’t come with a foreign fee so don’t feel like you’re forced to use a card that has one.
When traveling this holiday season, a little planning can go a long way to saving you money. Call up your financial institution and inquire about credit card perks and additional coverage. This will help you avoid these hidden holiday costs while traveling this season.