8 Annoying Junk Fees (And How To Avoid Them)

Don’t let these sneaky fees take a bite out of your wallet.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Junk fees on laptop display

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Everyone wants to save money, no matter how much they have, and hidden fees can certainly add up.

In his February 2024 State of the Union address, President Biden called out “junk fees” and the millions of dollars American families spend on them each year. He committed to bringing legislation to end these fees for good.

Until then, here’s a list of common junk fees and how to avoid them to keep more cash in your wallet.

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What are junk fees?

AliFuat/Adobe junk fees written on keyboard button

Junk fees are additional costs tacked onto purchases. Typically, retailers call them service fees or convenience fees, and they are often not explicitly stated to customers.

These costs aren’t just limited to banking and credit products. Travel and entertainment industries are also frequent culprits for tacking on various charges. Check the final total to see if it’s far different from the listed price.

Checking account maintenance fees

Yurii Kibalnik/Adobe monthly maintenance fees inscription on sheet

A checking account makes handling your money easy and convenient. Many banks charge a monthly fee for having an account at their institution. 

In 2023, the average monthly fee for a checking account was just over $10. Banks sometimes waive this fee with a qualifying direct deposit or minimum monthly balance.

To avoid this junk fee, look for checking accounts with no monthly maintenance fees. Credit unions are not-for-profit organizations that often offer reduced-fee or free banking products. 

Online banks like SoFi or Ally also offer low- or no-fee accounts.

ATM fees

Maksym/Adobe man taking out money from atm

Most banks don’t charge you to use your in-network ATM, but if there isn’t one nearby, you’ll have to pay the out-of-network fees. 

According to Bankrate data, the average out-of-network ATM fee reached an all-time high in 2023, at $4.73 per transaction. The charge is usually split between the ATM owner and your bank.

ATM fees can be avoided by planning when you may need cash. The easiest way to avoid this junk fee is to get cash from an in-network ATM.

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Credit card late fees

fotopak/Adobe personal check and credit card statement

In 2022, Consumers paid $14.5 billion in late credit card payment fees. In March 2024, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized a rule to reduce the average late payment for working Americans to $8 from $32.

You can avoid late payment fees by signing up for automatic payments with your credit card issuer. You can select your payment amount and date, and it will automatically process, ensuring you never have to pay this junk fee.

Overdraft fees

John Alphonse/Adobe african american man shopping using laptop

Currently, about 23 million American households pay bank overdraft fees each year. The average overdraft charge is $35, although most customers are usually charged around $26 and typically repay within three days.

Banks can legally charge fees to recoup their costs in collecting overdraft amounts. Banks have been using this loophole to make money rather than simply charging a nominal inconvenience fee.

The CFPB is working to reduce banks’ ability to exploit consumers with these fees. Until then, you can avoid this junk fee by signing up for overdraft protection, turning on low-balance account notifications, and keeping track of your transactions carefully.

Mortgage closing costs

Vitalii Vodolazskyi/Adobe Documents for closing costs and keys

Mortgage closing costs can vary widely but are usually between 3% and 6% of the home’s purchase price. Closing costs include loan origination fees, title search fees, appraisal fees, and others. 

Shopping around with multiple lenders in your area should give you a good idea of the average closing costs there.

While some of the closing fees are unavoidable, you may be able to negotiate with the seller or your mortgage lender to cover a portion of the costs.

Rental housing application fee

Patryk Kosmider/Adobe man shaking hand after making deal

The application fee to rent an apartment or house can range from $50 to several hundred. As the rental markets have become more competitive, people may apply for multiple properties to secure a place to live.

Government leaders are starting to recognize the burden these fees are on families. States like Virginia and Vermont are moving to cap or ban these costs.

Concert or sport ticket fees

KWY/Adobe crowd of people at concert

Have you ever started to buy tickets to an event and found when you checked out that the tickets were shockingly more than the listed price? Upon further investigation, you see a bunch of additional fees listed.

Thankfully, in June 2023, President Biden met with representatives from multiple entertainment companies. Consequently, many have committed to changing how they present their pricing. 

Retailers like LiveNation, SeatGeek, Ticketmaster, and others now have all-in pricing display options.

To avoid or reduce event ticket fees, you can try purchasing from the box office directly. Not all venues have this option, but it could be worth a call to the box office. Check out your credit card perks, too. Some issuers offer reduced ticket pricing for cardholders.

Resort fees

topntp/Adobe umbrella chair outdoor in luxury resort

Resort fees originated as a way to cover the luxury amenities that hotels offered. Hotels will often advertise incredibly low nightly rates, but when you add on taxes and resort fees, you’re paying 30% or more per night. 

In December 2023, the average resort fee was around $38.82 per night, according to a NerdWallet survey. Even if you never use the hotel amenities, you’ll still get stuck paying the fee.

The best way to avoid this fee is to use a hotel-branded credit card or a credit card with travel perks. Often, the resort fees are waived, or you’ll receive a statement credit as part of your rewards.

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Bottom line

everythingpossible/Adobe man calculating healthcare cost using calculator

Identifying junk fees is the first step. Next is how you can avoid them.

Some have had success calling their credit card issuer’s customer service and asking for fees to be reduced or waived entirely. You might even be able to lower your interest rate. Or consider getting a credit card with a 0% interest rate.

For other fees, be sure to question any charges you don’t understand or weren’t disclosed to you before your purchase. Being your own consumer advocate can pay off.

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Author Details

Holly Humbert Holly is a writer who recognizes that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to personal finance. She is passionate about entrepreneurship, women in business, and financial literacy. With more than four years of experience, her work has been featured on MarketWatch and The Ways to Wealth.

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