We've all been there — scanning our credit card or banking statements and getting hit by fees we weren't expecting. Unfortunately, it's easy to rack up the charges, even ones we should be aware of, and feel like our money's gone to waste. But fortunately, we can learn from the mistakes and discover ways to avoid ever making them again, starting with these four scenarios.
Scenario: You enroll in a trial membership that's only free for a limited time.
Solution: This often happens with service websites like FreeCreditReport.com or Amazon Prime. Remember to set an alarm on your phone or jot down a note in your calendar reminding you to cancel the service before it expires. You don't want to pay heavy fees on something that could be entirely free.
Scenario: You're searching for the cheapest flight on search engines that only show you the ticket price.
Solution: These days, traveling comes with its own set of pesky fees, but escape surprising checked baggage charges by refining your search method. Use certain sites like Kayak that give you an option to choose "Add baggage" as a filter for flight fares.
Scenario: You need cash right away but can't find your bank nearby.
Solution: Avoid an ATM usage fee by heading to a convenience store like Walgreen's, buying a pack of gum, and asking for cash back. You'll spend less than you would on the fee and get something useful in return.
Scenario: You are eating or staying at a restaurant or hotel that automatically includes gratuity.
Solution: Make sure to check the policy of the place. Many restaurants, for example, charge a 15-percent tip for large groups and only place the notice at the foot of the bill. You might really like the service you're getting, but there's no reason to pay twice.