Mary Anna Thomas

21 Rip-Offs Americans Are Wasting Their Money On

Money is tight for a lot of people, so when cash is spent, people want their money’s worth. From hotel minibars and bottled water to overdraft fees and extended warranties, we take a look at 21 things Americans feel are a rip-off.

Bottled Water

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Plastic water bottles also add to environmental concerns; they are seen as rip-off when tap water is free. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets national standards for public drinking water quality in the United States, and each municipality will publish its annual water quality.

Extended Warranties

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Companies often encourage people to take extended warranties on high-value products, but not many people question the benefits of the warranty. Extended warranties can be expensive and may not cover everything that breaks. On some occasions, it is cheaper to fix or replace an item rather than pay a monthly warranty bill. 

Overdraft Fees

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Most people understand that banks enforce overdraft fees when people do not meet the terms of their accounts. They also recognize that people may be inclined to get into more debt without these fees. However, some banks charge up to $35 per transaction, which many agree is excessive. 

Branded Medications

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Often, branded medications contain the same ingredients as non-branded versions. The active ingredients in medicines treat illnesses, not how fancy the packaging is.

Cable TV

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How many times have you surfed through hundreds of cable TV channels only to find nothing to watch? Despite the emergence of dozens of streaming channels, cable is still expensive and doesn’t offer the same value for money as Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

Airport Food

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Airport food is often overpriced and lacking in quality, which is one definition of a rip-off. But, airports have a captive audience, with limited options after security enticing people to pay inflated prices for food and drinks.

Hotel Resort Fees

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Resort fees are often not included in the advertised price of the hotel room, making the total cost higher than expected. This lack of transparency can frustrate travelers who think resort fees are a money-making scheme. 

Hotel Minibars

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Hotel minibars charge exorbitant prices for things you can get much cheaper outside the hotel. Hotel owners know having readily available snacks and drinks in your room can be tempting, leading to impulse purchases you might regret later.

ATM Fees

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It is absurd to most of us that we have to pay to withdraw our own money from the bank. Even worse, in some cases, you might be charged a fee by the ATM operator and a separate fee by your bank for using an out-of-network ATM.

In-Game Purchases

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The base price of a free-to-play app might seem appealing, but IAPs can quickly add up, especially in games designed to be addictive and encourage spending. While we consent to in-app purchases, the quality of the upgrades can often be disappointing. 

Payday Loans

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It is estimated that 5.5 million Americans have used a payday loan. Millions of people have paid significant interest rates, often exceeding 300% APR (Annual Percentage Rate).


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Timeshares are often the cheapest way to invest in a holiday home. While your allotted vacation time is enjoyable, many hidden costs could be wasting money. Shared ownership means annual maintenance fees on top of your initial payment and having to take your vacation at a certain time every year.  

Organic Food

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There are many benefits to organic food, the main one being that it contains lower levels of pesticides. But while some argue that organic food is better than non-organic, many feel that paying up to 68 percent higher for organic food is a waste of money, as standard food can provide equal amounts of nutrients. 

International Roaming Charges

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Data usage, calls, and even text messages can incur significant charges when roaming internationally. These costs can quickly add up, especially if caught off guard. 

Convenience Store Mark-ups

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Convenience stores tend to have higher product mark-ups than supermarkets or discount stores. These mark-ups frustrate customers, especially those who cannot drive or need items in an emergency. 

Concert Tickets

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The average cost of concert tickets has doubled in the last five years, much to the dismay of fans. One reason for the price surge is the high demand to see live shows after the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is understandable that venues need to increase their revenue, fans feel they are losing out. 


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The monthly cost of health insurance can be a significant financial burden for many Americans. These premiums can eat up a large portion of a household’s income. Frustratingly, some insurance companies make it very difficult to make a claim, making people think that paying premiums is a waste of money. 

Parking Fees

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Parking fees, especially in urban areas, can be quite expensive. This can feel unfair when compared to the perceived ease of finding parking in the past, particularly in sprawling suburban areas with ample free parking.

Banking Services

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Many banks require you to maintain a minimum balance in your checking or savings account to avoid monthly maintenance fees. This can be difficult for people who live paycheck to paycheck or have limited savings.

Cinema Popcorn

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Popcorn at movie theaters is notoriously overpriced. The mark-up on popcorn can be several hundred percent compared to the cost of making it at home or buying it at the grocery store to take to your movie. 


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It is customary in the U.S. to tip, particularly in the restaurant industry. Some say tipping can be a rip-off, as people often feel obliged to tip even when the food and service are bad. Others raise the issue of restaurant owners not being accountable for paying their staff a living wage. 

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