How to Fight Back Against Junk Fees

Many junk fees are “optional” and some can be disputed or ignored

Andy Spears


Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

The concept of “junk fees” was elevated to one of national significance when President Biden mentioned them in his State of the Union.

But what IS a junk fee and how can you fight them?

U.S. PIRG has a great blog on the topic — explaining what junk fees are and how you can resist them.

Here’s how they explain junk fees:

Mandatory charges that aren’t disclosed up front. It could be a “resort fee” slid in just before you book a hotel room, a required company charge added to monthly cell phone bill, or a service fee you can’t avoid when purchasing an event ticket. Many companies are guilty of “drip-pricing” — prices that don’t include everything you must pay.

Optional charges that are portrayed as mandatory or are given official-sounding names to deceive consumers or discourage them from questioning the fees.

Mandatory fees or charges buried in an unreasonably long terms and conditions document. You might expect a 10-page document for a car loan, but not to book an airline ticket.

In addition to President Biden’s push for Congressional action on the issue, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is also taking on junk fees.

You should always ask questions about fees that seem unusual or unwarranted.

You should ask for the full price up front.

You should note, too, that some fees are not just junk, they’re illegal.

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Andy Spears

Writer and policy advocate living in Nashville, TN —Public Policy Ph.D. — writes on education policy, consumer affairs, and more . . .