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February 2, 2014

Consumer Reports: Costly fees never to pay

(Continued)

You can deal with a variety of mortgage fees by asking the lender to explain them, then negotiating to reduce or eliminate them. Those include prepayment fees, origination fees and various document fees.

• Investing. Never pay a mutual fund sales fee, or “load,” which can be a whopping 3 percent to 8.5 percent of the amount you pay for fund shares; buy only true “no load” funds. Reduce management fees that can tax your balances by as much as 1.5 percent every year, which hurts long-term returns, by shopping for stock funds with fees below 1 percent and index funds with fees below 0.4 percent.

Stay away from variable annuities and the mortality and expense risk charges they come with. Annuities are overpriced, and it’s hard to comparison shop to begin with. But such charges cost 1.25 percent of the annuity’s asset value every year to insure the insurer in case you live longer than their calculations supposed.

• Travel. Sidestep airline telephone booking fees of $25 to $35 per ticket by reserving and buying online. Include baggage fees to compare the true cost of low-fare come-ons.

, and consider two carriers highly rated by Consumer Reports’ readers that let you check one bag (JetBlue) or two bags (Southwest) free on domestic flights.

• Autos. The additional dealer markup, often found on new or high-demand models, can be made to hit the road if you threaten to bail on the deal or simply wait until that hot model cools down. And let the salesman know that because manufacturers pay dealers to remove coatings and coverings that protect vehicles during shipping, you won’t be paying that dealer prep fee.

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