Tired of being surprised by unexpected fees in your accounts? So-called “unwanted fees,” also known as “junk fees,” can be a real nightmare for your wallet. 

They lurk in various types of services, from banking transactions to online purchases, and can consume a significant amount of your money without you even realizing it.


In this article, you will learn all about it and how to avoid each one of them. Follow along to the end and find out more!

So, what are junk fees after all?

Unwanted fees, also known as “junk fees,” are additional and often abusive charges that can be found in various types of services, such as:


  • Banking transactions: fees for withdrawals at ATMs from other banks, international remittance fees, TED and DOC fees.
  • Financial services: credit card annual fees, checking account fees, default fees.
  • Online purchases: delivery fees, payment processing fees, currency conversion fees.
  • Utility services: reconnection fees, late payment fees, minimum service fees.

The characteristics that define unwanted fees include lack of transparency, lack of choice, and abusive nature. 

Often, these fees are hidden in fine print or in complex terms and conditions, making it difficult for consumers to fully understand their financial obligations.

Furthermore, consumers often find themselves with no option but to pay the fees since they are imposed by companies with market power.

The abusive nature of junk fees can be evidenced when there is no actual service associated with the charge or when the fee amount is considered excessive in relation to the service provided.

These aspects make unwanted fees a source of concern for many consumers, highlighting the importance of transparency and consumer protection in financial matters.

Get to know common types of junk fees

Now that you know what junk fees are, let’s show you the main unwanted fees so that you can check your accounts to see if you’re unknowingly paying any.

Here are the most common types:

Late fees

Late fees are charged when you don’t pay a bill on time, such as late payment of a credit card bill or electricity bill.

These fees can be high and generate additional interest, negatively impacting your finances.

To avoid them, it’s important to pay your bills within the established deadline.

Setting up alerts for bill due dates can be a useful strategy to ensure you don’t miss payment deadlines and avoid incurring late fees.

Overdraft fee

The overdraft fee is charged when you use the overdraft limit available, whether to pay a bill, make a withdrawal, among other uses.

The impact of this fee can be significant, with very high interest rates, which can further worsen your financial situation.

To avoid this fee, it is advisable to avoid using the overdraft whenever possible.

Seeking more advantageous alternatives, such as consigned credit or personal loans with lower interest rates, may be a more effective strategy for dealing with financial emergencies without incurring high fees.

Foreign transaction fee

The foreign transaction fee is charged when you use your card in another country or make online purchases on international websites. 

This can occur when making purchases on international online stores, or when making withdrawals from ATMs abroad, among other examples. 

This fee negatively impacts your international purchases and travels, making them more expensive.

To avoid this fee, there are some measures that can be taken, such as looking for cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees.

These cards are especially useful for frequent travelers or those who make online purchases in foreign currencies.

Another option is to compare exchange rates before making any transaction. This can help minimize the costs associated with foreign currency conversion.

Also consider carrying cash to use in ATMs abroad. Although this may require a bit more planning, it can be a way to avoid extra fees when withdrawing money in another country.

By taking these precautions, you can reduce or even eliminate the costs associated with foreign transaction fees, making your international trips and purchases more economical.

Cash advance fee

The cash advance fee is charged when you use your credit card to withdraw cash at an ATM, whether nationally or internationally.

This fee results in high interest rates and additional fees, which can further increase the cost of the advance.

To avoid this fee, avoid using your credit card for cash advances whenever possible. It is important to plan your expenses in a way that does not depend on this resource.

Seek more advantageous alternatives, such as a personal loan, which usually has lower interest rates than those associated with cash advances using a credit card.

Consider using a prepaid card to control your expenses and avoid the need for cash advances with your credit card. This can help keep your finances in check and avoid unnecessary costs.

By following these guidelines, you can avoid or minimize the costs associated with cash advance fees and keep your finances in order.

Is it possible to avoid paying fees on a credit card?

It is possible to avoid paying various fees on a credit card by following some useful tips.

Firstly, choose the right card for your needs: research and compare cards with no annual fees, opt for those with rewards programs that offer valuable benefits such as cashback or air miles. 

And analyze the fees charged, such as international transaction fee and revolving interest.

Use the card responsibly, ensuring payment of the bill on time to avoid high interest, and avoid using the entire available credit limit.

Negotiate fees with the issuing bank of your card, seeking reductions or waivers of fees.

Explore alternatives to the credit card, such as using prepaid cards to control expenses, online debit on reliable websites to avoid international transaction fees, or even cash for international travel.

If wrongly charged, complain according to the Consumer Protection Code, demanding to be informed about all fees before contracting a service, and complain to the bank or financial institution.

Use online tools, such as card comparison websites, fee calculators, and financial control apps to monitor your expenses and avoid unwanted fees.

Always remember to be a conscious consumer, carefully reading the terms and conditions of your credit card, and protect yourself from unwanted fees by taking precautions and informing yourself about your rights to have more control over your finances.

Understand what the Junk Fees Prevention Law is

The Junk Fees Prevention Law, also known as the “Abusive Fees Law,” was designed to combat undue and abusive charges in various sectors of the economy, providing greater protection to consumers.

This law prohibits the charging of abusive fees in a variety of services, such as banking, financial, online purchases, and utility services.

For example, fees for withdrawals at ATMs from other banks, credit card annual fees, and delivery fees for online purchases.

Furthermore, the law clearly defines what constitutes an abusive fee, such as a fee without an equivalent service, a fee with excessive value, or a fee not transparently disclosed to the consumer.

The benefits of this law include consumer protection against abusive charges, greater transparency by companies regarding the fees charged, and the possibility of saving money by avoiding unjust fees.

To ensure your protection, it is important that you carefully read the terms and conditions of any service before contracting it, compare prices and fees from different services, negotiate with companies to reduce or eliminate abusive fees, and complain if wrongly charged.

Now that you know about junk fees, stay vigilant so that you don’t pay what is not due.

And find more tips on our website.