Businesses adding coronavirus surcharges to your bill: What to know

Hotels, resorts and airlines could be next to add the extra fee

Remember the tip jar? Amid the coronavirus pandemic, businesses are finding a whole new way of tapping your pocket: the COVID-19 surcharge.

It started with restaurants adding a small, single-digit dollar flat fees to cover their additional costs, but now more and more businesses are doing the same.

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Dentists’ offices and hair salons across the country are adding flat and percentage fees as they cautiously reopen. And now, one big national player is joining in – UPS. The logistics giant will add a peak delivery surcharge, not for consumers, but shippers sending frequent and heavy packages.

As a result, UPS clients like Amazon are now facing yet another challenge to keeping prices low and packages moving swiftly to your front door.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
UPS UNITED PARCEL SERVICE, INC. 202.06 +1.33 +0.66%
AMZN AMAZON.COM, INC. 3,427.37 +37.58 +1.11%

Why all these new costs for consumers? To be sure, the businesses themselves are facing an uphill battle, buying personal protective equipment for employees, additional cleaning supplies and physical barriers like plexiglass. And, the costs are adding up as revenues are failing to rebound.

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The next industry to jump on the surcharge bandwagon will likely be travel. Hotels, resorts and airlines are already known for adding additional costs, and now with COVID-19 depressing their results, many experts, like “The Points Guy” Brian Kelly, say consumers may well find COVID-19 surcharges on the bills during their next vacation.

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For consumers, a good offense is the best defense. Be sure to double-check your hotel bill for any charges, and even ask separately – some hotels are expected to bake those fees into room charges without laying them out in an invoice. By law, airlines have to list fees up front; hotels, on the other hand, can tack on surprise charges after your stay.

Of course, surcharges make economic sense during the pandemic, when so many companies are struggling to maintain revenues, all while facing higher-than-normal costs. But will these charges disappear when COVID-19 is gone? It’s an open question.

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