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The Convenience Fee – Do You Pay It?

Convenience Fee

I have a little confession to make.  There are times when I don’t mind paying the dreaded convenience fee.  There are times when the convenience fee is apparent and other times when it is subtle.  As someone who is dedicated to paying less for all of my services, I typically frown upon paying extra just for convenience.  That being said, there have been some instances where I don’t mind paying the fee.  I have noticed more and more companies starting to implement the convenience fee, especially with the explosion of the internet.  Let me explain further.

Like Convenience?

We are a “want it now” type of society.  When we look for a product or service, we want it in our hands immediately.  You can’t deny it, but we are certainly paying the price for it.  A simple example of a convenience fee is faster shipping.  When you buy something online, you typically have a set of shipping options.  You pay the least for standard ground shipping and the most for overnight shipping.  You are paying for the convenience of getting the product quicker.  I think this example could also be called an impatience fee.

The funny thing about convenience fees is that though they make it easiser for a customer, typically they might actually cost the company less to implement.  I have seen numerous occasions when a company will “charge” you extra for the convenience of making payments online.  While this is technically a much cheaper solution to implement and run, these companies love to get their extra money.

When I Pay for the Convenience Fee

Convenience fees just irritate me on many levels, but that doesn’t mean I won’t pay them in certain instances.  I typically won’t pay for quick shipping when I buy online, but if I waited too late to order, then I will pay the added expense.  I am paying the fee because I made the mistake.  There is one instance in particular when I will pay a convenience fee and that is when I make my mortgage payment.

My mortgage company allows a few ways to make a payment. I can send in a check, call them over the phone, or pay online.  I can also have my payment deducted automatically from my checking account, but I don’t allow companies to do that.  When I used to work in mortgage collections before the real estate market dropped out, I came across horror stories of missing checks and double or triple account deductions.  For these reasons, I don’t send out checks for my mortgage payment, so I am left with two options to pay.

If I want to pay over the phone, my mortgage company charges me a fee of $25 for the convenience.  I think that fee is quite ridiculous, but I am sure some people would and do pay it.  When I was collecting mortgage payments, the company I worked for would charge $3 for our customers to give us a “check by phone.” I thought that was crazy, but it was a very popular payment option.  Since $25 is too rich for my blood, I have one payment option left.  I make my payments online each month.

I get charged a convenience fee of $5.95 to make the payment.  While I hate having to pay a fee just to make a payment online, I would rather spend the extra $6 per month for the piece of mind that my payment is being made.  This is one of the very few convenience fees that I will accept.  Sometimes peace of mind is just worth it to me.

 

Alright, so you have heard from me, now let me hear from you.  Do you pay convenience fees?  Are there some situations where you don’t mind paying the fee?

 

Image courtesy of Steven Depolo

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Grayson is the owner of Debt Roundup and Empowered Shopper. He also co-owns Sprout Wealth and Eyes on the Dollar. After going to battle and winning against consumer debt, he decided it was time to learn how to use credit wisely and grow his wealth. He discusses all things personal finance and is not afraid of being controversial. He also is a freelance writer and blog manager.

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36 Comments

  • It stinks that you can’t just pay online for free! That’s how our mortgage works. Well, we use our online banking to send the payment electronically. I also HATE the thought of giving my bank account info to a company so we avoid that like the plague. Otherwise I guess I can’t think of any convenience fees that I regularly pay, other than all those extra fees you get charged when you buy tickets for a concert or other event- and it never seems like there’s a way out of those!

    • Grayson Bell says:

      It irritates me as well, but I have seen too many issues with check payments, so that is a fee that I have to pay. I also hate the extra charge you get for buying tickets.

  • Marie @ 4HWD says:

    When I bought a plane ticket for my husband, I saw online that it was 50%, but we don’t have a Credit Card to pay because we still stick “No to CC”. I hurriedly went to the mall to purchase the ticket, but I was shocked because the price was higher than on the internet and they explained to me it as a convenience fee.

  • That $25 fee is asinine. I guess I sort of pay a convenience fee by being an Amazon Prime member and getting two-day shipping. I’m 50/50 on paying them in other situations. Takeout for example. If the place is in walking distance (within a mile of my house) and the weather isn’t dreadful then I’d rather get the exercise, walk to pick up my food and not pay a tip to a delivery guy.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      I don’t consider Amazon Prime a convenience fee because they are providing you a service. You also get the ability to stream videos which you can only be while being a prime member, so I consider it a service. We always go pick up our food.

  • Alicia says:

    The one I hate is when you have to pay to use debit, yet the credit card (going through the exact same terminal) you don’t. I know it’s because the fee is included in the credit card terminal contract and there are legality issues about not charging more for using a credit card over cash, but come on! That $1.50 they charge you at the store is absurd for most small purchases… it should just be included in the cost of doing business.

  • Very interesting. I mail in a check each month but you’re right, it could easily get lost or have some other problem that causes me to miss a payment or generally cause confusion. As far as convenience fees I don’t think I’ve ever paid for faster shipping, but I know I have done a HUGE personal finance no-no: paid the ATM fee…at a casino :0

    • Grayson Bell says:

      There are many that mailed in checks, but you wouldn’t believe how many “got lost” and then found right after the late fee kicked in. How convenient! Ouch, the ATM fee is bad, especially in a casino.

  • There are definitely times when I pay for convenience, like yesterday when I was running late and bought the kids a $5 Little Caesars cheese pizza instead of making my own. There are only so many hours in the day and sometimes you have to do what is convenient.

  • I hate paying convenience fees, but I always run a quick “cost benefit analysis” in my head before I pull the trigger. I have paid the convenience fee of using another bank’s ATMs from time to time and to be the $3 was worth it to have cash in my pocket.

  • If it is reasonable and saves me time I would pay it. If I can find a way around it without much effort I won’t pay it.

  • I usually try to stray away from those convenience fees but sometimes it’s worth the hassle and time.

  • E.M. says:

    Wow $25 is way too much to pay every time you need to make a payment. It’s awful they place fees on things like that and then you’re pigeonholed into paying them if you don’t want the auto pay option. I try to avoid convenience fees by being prepared as much as possible. My biggest weakness is probably food, which I’ve been working on. We tend to buy prepackaged too often.

  • I think you’re confusing ‘conveniance fees’ with outright ‘screw the customer fees’. Do all mortgage companies over the pond there charge you to make payments, even online? To my mind that is just plain wrong.

    I don’t mind paying for conveniance (e.g. valet parking at an airport, premium cinema seats, online shopping delivery etc) but refuse outright to pay such money making fees as you describe. You can usually spot them when they are labelled ‘transaction fee’ or ‘processing fee’.

  • I hate convenience fees! I paid a convenience fee by accident one time. There was the option to pay a bill by credit card on their website so when I logged in and paid, I didn’t realize they charged an extra $2.50 to do so. It’s not much but I wanted to pay with card to get the rewards so it was pointless.

    • Grayson Bell says:

      Well that just doesn’t sound cool. I just paid my HOA fees yesterday and if you wanted to pay with a credit card, they would charge you $15, which is 40% of the total fee.

  • Some of the “convenience fees” piss me off. I think the astronomical price of ATM fees is insane. $3 to access YOUR money EVERY TIME? Thank goodness I got a no ATM fee card.

  • I like how it’s called convenience fees..convenient for who exactly? :) Yes, sometimes I do pay the occasional fee. Like with my estimated taxes. Filing online costs me $20 extra, but I put the large amount on my credit cards where the travel rewards outweigh the fee. The ones I hate the most are fro the bank. Grrr!

  • Another place I don’t understand the convenience fee is when buying tickets for a concert online. If you go down to the box office you don’t pay an extra fee, but if you purchase online there is a convenience fee, around $7 I believe. How is processing a payment through a computer costing them more than through a clerk! Greedy, greedy, greedy..

  • I usually try to stay away from convenience fees but sometimes you can’t avoid them. I just try to avoid as many as I can.

  • My husband and I pay $2 a month to pay our rent online. It sucks doing that, but at the same time, I know my rent can’t get “lost in the mail”. Our rent check once didn’t get cashed until near the end of the month. We were freaking out, thinking it was lost. Turns out our management office was closed for one of the Jewish holidays (the employees are all Orthodox Jewish) so they just didn’t come in to cash the checks as they were observing the holiday. There are horror stories in NYC of deadbeat landlords “not receiving checks” because they want an excuse to kick out a tenant so even though our management company is super nice and loves our timely rent checks, I rather err on the side of caution and pay the fee to ensure our payment gets to them every month.

  • Grayson Bell says:

    That is the same reason why I pay the fee to pay my mortgage online. I know it gets there and I have a confirmation number. It’s very hard to argue with a missing check.

  • eemusings says:

    That is CRAZY!!!! Is this common in the US? Here everyone pays rent and mortgage by auto payment (different from direct debit; APs are set up by you and you have full control and can cancel at any time, whereas with direct debit the company has control of the payments and that’s why I refuse to use them as I don’t want them having access to my account). It’s usually a couple bucks to set up at the start but from then on it’s free.

  • Liz says:

    I normally avoid paying for convenience if possible but sometimes that’s hard when you are in a bind. Normally planning and being organized will help minimize the need for rush orders or emergency trips to the gas station to buy milk at a premium!

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