I now pay convenience fees

Time is at such a premium these days that I just pay the little “convenience” fees that I used to refuse to pay out of principle.

It started with me deciding it wasn’t worth it to drive to a farther gas station just to not get hit with an extra fee for using my credit card rather than cash.  (And I haven’t carried cash with me in over a decade, so I definitely wasn’t going to start.  Plus, with cash the signs say you have to pre-pay for gas which means either overestimating or not getting a full tank.)

Then I started telling DH to just pay the “convenience fee” for electronic tickets at the movie theater rather than having to stand in line to pick them up.

Then I started paying our insurance with a credit card online instead of writing a check. (Though they’ve since dropped that fee. Yay.)

And mailed checks for all our small state taxes like car registration renewal instead of standing in line at the courthouse.  (Though maybe we’ve been dong this one for years…)

I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I mean, from an economics standpoint, they’re chipping away at my customer surplus through price differentiation, but it’s also rationally worth it to me to pay for the privilege of not jumping through their hoops.

And it’s true that these little fees add up.  But they add up to a dollar here or a dollar there.  Far less than the latte factor.

If we were making less money, every dollar would count.  But these dollars just don’t count anymore.  And our time and the hassle factor are just worth so much more to us.  This is another way it’s really nice to be upper-middle class.  A year of these fees is less than an hour of work.  Even saved and invested they’re not going to matter in the long-run.

Do you pay convenience fees?  If so, when did you start?  Do you notice convenience fees?

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30 Responses to “I now pay convenience fees”

  1. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    I’ve been paying Ticketmaster fees for a long time. There’s really no way around it. Similarly, where the options are paying a fee online or going all the way to the box office, it’s usually cheaper to stay home and pay the fee, though I might not think so if I were going to be near the place anyway.

    When you over-pre-pay for gas, they’ll give you change if you go back in for it, though I suppose you could consider that a convenience fee of sorts. I used to use cash a whole lot more than I do now.

  2. L Says:

    In CA too they have to give you change is you pump less than the pre-pay money handed over. Are you certain they don’t in your state?????? But it does take TWO trips inside and waiting in line……

  3. jasonedwards57 Says:

    I can understand this at some level. I mean it is about what is more valuable your time or your money in some respects. And paying a little extra to not take the time to do something isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I will still, however, go out of my way to only go to ATMs where I can use one of my bank’s cards. Or I try to avoid the convenience fees for some things, but other ones are just inevitable (e.g. tickets).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I would pay someone a lot more than 60 to 80 cents to stand in line at the gas station twice for me each time I need to fill up the tank (~1x every 2 weeks during the school year). The real savings comes from owning a gas sipping car and not driving much.

  4. Sandy L Says:

    I still hate paying convenience fees. One exception is that We go to the movies maybe 3-4 times a year. One time we got there and the movie was sold out and everyone was bummed we had to wait an extra 2 hours, so now I pay the extra $1 online ticket fee to guaranty my spot.

    The biggest convenience thing I do is use amazon prime and mail order a lot of stuff.

  5. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    I rarely pay convenience fees, unless you count eating at a restaurant rather than cooking at home. I am bothered by fees that are not included in the stated price—I’d rather tickets to a play were advertised as $27 rather than $25 with a $2 “service fee”—it’s not as if there were any way to avoid the service fee.

    I don’t use Amazon Prime—I just wait until I have enough things I need from Amazon to trigger the minimum to avoid shipping charges.

    When I order from AliExpress I usually do pay extra for reliable shipping, because there has been too much loss when things are shipped China Post (with fraudulent claims that items were delivered).

  6. chacha1 Says:

    One convenience fee that I pay is for quarterly billing of our life insurance so I can pay by check. It’s two bucks per policy per quarter. Small but sufficiently annoying that after we move and all that mishegas is over, I’ll probably look at some different payment method.

    I am also happy to pay for e-ticketing at the movies.

    I will definitely pay more for gasoline convenience. There are a couple of nearby stations that I guess have the best futures buyers, where the price per gallon is always lower – but the lines are always long and the in/out is poorly designed. So I pay a premium to go to the neighborhood station where the price is high but there is no wait and no crowding. Driving an efficient vehicle makes this a lot less painful. :-)

  7. Matthew Healy Says:

    Yes, I do pay convenience fees. And buy high-grade precooked food from a local market. But one of those fees recently vanished: because my wife and I have more than X dollars on the investment division of our bank, they waive ATM fees, and even give us a credit for the fees we pay to the owner of the ATM. It’s nice not having to care which ATM I use.

  8. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I call credit card annual fees convenience fees because it saves me the trouble of finding another way to get 2-5% back on my purchases.

    We occasionally buy more of the fancy precooked foods at Trader Joe’s to save me the trouble of learning how to make 3 good Indian dishes in the no time that I have. To offset it, we skip other spending categories entirely, like entertainment. I think it balances – kinda. It might not, we spend a little more on food when we limit our shopping to only 2 stores instead of making the extra stops at Sprouts and Safeway for their sales.

  9. eemusings Says:

    Ha yes, over the past couple of years. A big one for us is parking – we used to do anything to avoid paying for parking (and then got broken into a couple of times), now we shell out for parking in secure and convenient lots most of the time when we go out to the city (but mostly we stick to places nearer home with free, easier parking)

  10. Debbie M Says:

    This makes sense. I still think of myself as someone who tries to avoid convenience fees.

    For example, I just paid my (and my boyfriend’s) auto registration in person, but it meant I got a good walk in that day and lots of reading, so it was actually win-win.

    If there’s a fee to use a credit card (higher than my 2% cash back), I write a check (taxes) or use my credit union’s bill pay (natural gas). And I use a separate card at Target (the RedCard debit card), though I’m now down to just one rewards credit card. When I get my car fixed, I often ask if there’s a cash discount.

    For movies, I’ve found they basically never sell out if you go to the very first showing of the day, even on opening weekend (at least in my town).

    For gas, though, my boyfriend researched which stations give you the real amount of gas and not almost 5% less (not sure if that’s the real percentage) as allowed by law. One of them is close to my house, so I just always go there. Plus, even the stated price differential doesn’t add up much, even when I fill my tank twice a month now that my boyfriend’s using it for far away jobs.

    And for vacations, I definitely spend less time looking for ways to not pay for parking. Also, I avoid a lot of free things when I think they will be painfully overcrowded, like free events and the annual free day at a museum. And during tax-free weekend (in my state, affordable clothes are tax-free one weekend when school starts), I stay away from Target, though I will go to thrift stores (because they’re not crowded).

  11. crazy mama, PhD Says:

    I used to try to pay bills in the cheapest possible way, but over the last few years have changed my philosophy to “if it can be paid online, I will pay it online.” Although most of our major bills don’t charge fees for online payment anymore. Not even car registration.

    We have Amazon Prime, but I don’t consider it a convenience fee because we signed up when we dropped cable. So it comes out of what used to be the cable TV budget and the two-day shipping is just a bonus.

  12. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    This morning I called about gun regulation. I used this script: https://5calls.org/issue/rec7sgeUYTnr7DJRU But 5calls has several other options as well.

  13. Solitary Diner Says:

    I try to incorporate things into my routine that allow me to avoid convenience fees without too much effort, like stopping at my bank to get cash when I’m driving by so that I don’t have to pay ATM fees. That being said, if I can spend a few dollars to save time and hassle, I absolutely will. At this stage in my life, my happiness and avoidance of stress are more important than a bit of extra money.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The way I avoid ATM fees is by never using cash… (DH avoids them by getting cash when he deposits reimbursement or honoraria checks, since he has to use one of our banks anyway.)

      • gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

        The bank and the credit union that I have accounts with have so many ATMs around town that I don’t pay ATM fees except when I travel out of the country (the bank has ATMs nationwide and credit unions have no-fee agreements within their network) . I usually use my debit cards to pay for things anyway, but some things (like buses) require cash.

      • Matthew Healy Says:

        Before my bank started covering those ATM fees for me, I usually avoided them by getting cash back from grocery or drugstore purchases.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I remember when we discovered that we could do that! Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve used cash.

      • Contingent Cassandra Says:

        USAA (which has relatively few actual branches and/or ATMs) refunds ATM fees (up to a certain number per month). You have to have at least a tenuous connection to the military to qualify for membership (in my case, my father was a peacetime vet from the time when there was still a draft, and I already had insurance with them), but I suspect some other credit unions and/or primarily online banks may do the same (and it may be possible to bank with USAA even if you don’t quality for all their services). I don’t use cash much anymore, either (the last major use was for farmers’ markets, and vendors at the local ones started taking debit cards 2 or 3 years ago, when those little sliders that attach to smartphones came out), but I do keep a bit in my wallet, and never pay an ATM fee for replenishing my supply.

        Otherwise, I’ll avoid a convenience fee if I can do so without undue expenditure of time (e.g. paying local property taxes via direct debit vs. a credit card), but I generally consider the value of my time as part of the equation. In the case of the no-fee direct debit vs. small-fee credit card transaction, I also consider how much I trust the entity to which I’m providing my banking information. I generally prefer sending such payments — especially recurring ones — through a card rather than authorizing a direct debit unless I’m very sure that the entity will only debit as instructed.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Good point about the extra layer of safety against fraud that credit cards provide. I had a debit card skimmed once and it was a huge hassle to get the money back, as opposed to how easy it is when working with a credit card company.


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