In recent years, the hospitality industry has moved increasingly toward à la carte pricing to increase revenue. Fees for everything from checked bags to amenities have become the norm, making it costly for travelers who don’t want an entirely bare-bones experience.
Even banks have gotten in on this trend, charging travelers fees for using their credit and debit cards abroad. Simple things like swiping your credit card for a purchase can incur an extra 3 percent charge, while pulling cash out of your account can get costly, too. Whether you’re paying for your travel with points or cash, the final cost of your vacation is not as straightforward as it seems.
Luckily, there are ways to circumvent many of these added fees. By leveraging the right credit cards, you can save money on travel and have more to spend at your destination. Here are five common travel fees you can avoid with the right travel credit card line-up:
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or take just one trip a year, those $30 checked bag fees can add up fast. Luckily, plenty of credit cards offset this fee entirely. Most airline credit cards offer a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and at least one other traveler on the same itinerary. On a round-trip flight, that can quickly add up to over $120 in savings for a couple traveling together. Considering most airline credit cards have annual fees as low as $95, this benefit can be well worth it.
If you’re not consistently loyal to a single airline, there are other ways to get baggage fees waived. For example, the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card allows you to redeem miles towards any and all travel purchases—including baggage fees. Simply charge the expense to your Venture Rewards card and redeem your miles at a rate of one cent each. So, a $35 baggage fee will require 3,500 miles.
Several credit cards offer annual travel credits ranging from $100 to $300, and a number of them also include a specific airline fee credit. Some issuers have caveats, like American Express, which requires that you choose one of nine carriers every year—a downside for those who aren’t loyal to one airline and might not use the credit in full. However, most people get these cards for the multitude of travel perks, and the airline fee credit saves them from having to get a co-branded card to cover baggage fees.
Hotels have been looking to drum up revenue much in the same way as airlines have—with fees. Often, this takes the form of resort fees, though, in the absence of a pool and spa, hotels have rebranded them as “urban” or “destination” fees. In any case, paying an extra $35 per night on top of your room rate can really eat into your travel budget.
Resort fees don’t have to be a drag on your vacation. Some of the best hotel credit cards offer either statement credits to offset resort fees or elite status that gets them waived. Most notably, the World of Hyatt program waives resort fees for top-tier Globalist members. With The World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can fast-track your way further with five qualifying night credits every year. Plus, you can earn two additional qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent on the card.
Award taxes and fees
The main objective of earning credit card points is to “travel for free.” Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as “free,” and that extends to award travel. All airlines impose taxes and fees on award flights, which start at $5.60 and can go well over $1,000 depending on the route. And while you’re still getting heavily discounted travel with points, these taxes can add up substantially if you’re traveling with another person—even more so with a family.
The best way to offset award taxes and fees is by taking advantage of airline fee credits. But if you don’t have an airline credit card and like to avoid high-annual fee cards that offer versatile credits, then the Capital One Venture Rewards would be a great alternative. While the card doesn’t provide a statement credit, it does allow you to redeem miles towards all travel purchases—including award taxes and fees.
Foreign transaction fees
Sticking to a travel budget is hard enough for some folks without this added expense. If you have a card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you may not even be aware that using your card abroad incurs a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. You can circumvent these pesky fees by using a credit card with no foreign transaction fees. There are plenty to choose from, including the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. If you charge at least $3,170 to your credit card abroad, you’ll offset the card’s $95 annual fee.
If you’d rather go with a no-annual-fee card, there are some great contenders with no foreign transaction fees. These include the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card, Discover it® Cash Back and Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. All of these cards offer a lucrative earning structure, easy point redemptions, and no foreign transaction fees when you use your card abroad for purchases.
When you’re in a new city (or country) and need cash quickly, it can be hard to find an ATM machine affiliated with your bank. The fees for using an out-of-network ATM are pretty hefty, going as high as $5.60 per transaction. No one likes paying fees to take their own money out of the bank and luckily, two debit cards waive all ATM fees: The Charles Schwab debit card and SoFi Money debit card.
SoFi waives all ATM fees at over 55,000 Allpoint ATM machines worldwide. Meanwhile, Charles Schwab waives all ATM fees domestically and abroad, regardless of network. That makes Charles Schwab the better option. Simply open a Schwab Bank High Yield Investor Savings® Account and you’ll get a debit card in the mail that you can use for fee-free ATM withdrawals.
With no monthly fees, it can definitely be worthwhile to open an account in anticipation of your next trip abroad.
The bottom line
Fees can really add up when you’re traveling and there’s no need to pay them when there are so many ways around them. A bit of preparation and the right card lineup can help you save hundreds of dollars and make your travels (and your wallet) a little more comfortable.
The information about The World of Hyatt Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.