Why It Pays To Read the Fine Print


There’s nothing worse than losing money when you don’t have to.

Traveling doesn’t come cheap, so when it’s time to take flight, hit the road or ride the rails it’s a good idea to read the fine print before you fork over your hard-earned cash.

For example, many jet-setting travelers think they are scoring big time by signing up for airlines’ frequent flyer credit cards.  However, unless you read all the details associated with the enrollment process, becoming a member may end up costing you more than you bargained for.  Sure, you’re earning bonus miles each time you use the card to make a purchase, but you’re likely also paying a hefty annual fee.  Most airline issued credit cards charge fees ranging from $75 to $100.  In addition, you may be hit with additional expenses, such as fees for cashing in your frequent flyer miles or upgrading to business class from economy class.

A more economical solution may be to earn money for future flights with cash-back-rewards credit cards.  American Express offers a Blue Cash Card with no annual fee, while Discover has a Cash Back Bonus Card that allows you to earn 5% back in cash when you use the card to purchase items such as groceries, gas, and clothes.  You can also score additional cash when charge hotel stays and car rentals to the card.

Another bonus is that cash-back-rewards cards don’t include a slew of restrictions such as blackout dates and airline fees; rather, you can simply use the money you earned and buy your own ticket.

Hotels are also notorious for hiding information in fine print.  Before you book a room at a specific property, inquire about services or amenities that may affect your bill, including parking, in-room phone use, and resort fees.  At that time you can also ask about free items that often go overlooked.  For example, you may not know that the Staybridge Suites in McLean, Virginia, offers guests free daily breakfast, free dinner with free wine and beer three nights a week; underground parking; free transportation to a nearby Metro station; and a permanent closet for business travelers who frequent the hotel on a weekly basis.

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Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.