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Read the fine print, check your bills to avoid hidden fees

$20 bills.

$20 bills. Credit: iStock

It seems consumer transparency is more theory than practice.

According to a new report from the National Economic Council, “The Competition Initiative and Hidden Fees,” Americans are spending billions in hidden resort, event ticketing, new car, airline, student, telecommunications and banking fees.

Read the fine print: Understand overdraft protection. “Some banks charge an upfront enrollment fee, and many customers are surprised to find there are additional fees when they overdraft. Some banks charge a different fee to transfer funds between accounts, instead of extending an overdraft line of credit. It’s extra reading, but worth it,” says Kerri Moriarity, head of company development at Cinch Financial in Boston.

Speak up: Adviser commission costs can be buried in your contract. “Request your adviser put in writing their fees and commissions,” says Scott Puritz, managing director of Rebalance IRA in Palo Alto, California.

Be suspicious: Even something like honeymoon and cash registries can be complicated. “The fees are varied and confusing. Many registry fees are passing along not just credit card fees but additional hidden fees, some as high as 11 percent, and couples do not realize it until they attempt to withdraw the money they’ve received,” says Nevin Shetty, CEO of

Says Dan Schneider, CEO of SIB Fixed Cost Reduction in Manhattan, “The advice is simple: Pay attention to the items in your bill. If you don’t know what the fees are for, ask. Make sure you are still using everything you are paying for, and have a professional look over your bills.”

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