As a consumer, you may not realize the hidden service fees that you are paying for everyday services.  Everything from your credit card, your cell phone or your utilities.  What you may not realize is that these providers are typically charging undisclosed fees which is costing consumers millions of dollars each year.

Below are six hidden service fees to watch out for

Hidden Service Fees With Credit Cards

This one is not likely a surprise. Along with the hefty interest rates on credit cards, many of them come with hidden service fees that you need to be aware of. While some cards will offer a promotional 0% interest rate on balance transfers, many cards charge a transfer fee of between three to five percent.

Credit cards usually charge a fee for a number of other things like cash advances, late payments, and even for inactivity. So you can be penalized for overuse, and potentially for underuse as well. Credit cards need to be used very carefully, and ideally to obtain points, rewards, and cash back. Using credit cards for credit should be restricted to emergencies. You wouldn’t take a home loan out at 15-20% or higher interest, so why accept rates in that range for your consumer debt?

Hotel Fees

Hotels are masters at the art of the hidden service fee. They often rely on this as a source of revenue to make up for competitively lowered room charges. These fees can be imposed on Internet usage, in-room movies, use of the in-room safe, and cancellation of a booking. Oh, and don’t even think about touching your hotel room phone or the minibar. Unless you want to pay $5 for a bottle of water or a bag of chips.  Cells phones and snacks from the nearest gas station are a must during hotel stays.

Cell Phone Firms

The dictionary has actually added a word for this industry’s skillful use of extra hidden service fees.  The word is “cramming” which means adding unauthorized or deceptive charges on a cell phone bill.  Consumers need to review their cell phone charges carefully and determine if any are erroneous or can otherwise be challenged.

Cell phone carriers also make a great deal of money from charges imposed on subscribers who exceed their approved limits, whether for minutes, text messages, or data usage. In addition, if you use your cell phone while traveling, this will often result in additional “out of area” charges. So beware!

Cable TV Firms

Cable and satellite TV do compete with low subscription prices to gain our business, but those rates are promotional.  They usually last for six months or a year but then jump right up. The companies rely on you becoming addicted to their suite of channels and on becoming complacent about the bill.  With that being said, calling your cable provider and threatening cancellation can sometimes get you some discounts.  Just keep in mind that any discounts they offer will typically be temporary so you will have to call them again before the discounts expire.  If anything, consider cutting the cord with cable.  There are so many options out there today to watch your favorite shows.

Banks Are Known For Hidden Service Fees

This industry probably wins the blue ribbon for the best hidden service fees charged to the general public. The list of things on which banks will impose fees is a long one.  This includes cash advances, stop-payment services, balance transfers, overdrafts, foreign transactions, late payments, phone payments, and replacement of lost cards. Banks will also charge for wire transfers, ATM usage, and in some cases will even charge for speaking with a teller.


What supermarkets are hiding is not exactly a hidden service fee, but slight portions of their products that they used to sell you.  The Consumerist, a watchdog website operated by Consumer Reports, has documented the “grocery shrink ray” phenomenon, which involves the gradual shrinking of products.  This can be found in everything from salad dressing to cereal and laundry detergent and has been occurring over the past several years.

Hidden Service Fee Payer Beware!

While this was a partial list, it is likely that you are paying hundreds of dollars per year in some of the costs outlined above.  Moving forward, you will know what to look out for in hidden fees.  That money that you save can be put towards other financial goals.