Debbie Wright loves searching for vacation cabins in the mountains.

But she hates when she clicks, and the price jumps.

“The fees were ridiculous,” she said.

Wright’s been looking for an inexpensive cabin on her favorite rental site, Vrbo.

But she says fees — that don’t show up until the booking page — can add hundreds of dollars to the price of that rental.

“It says $158 a night,” she said. “But next thing we know we are looking at $200 a night.”

What’s behind the extra fees?

Fees are definitely the new norm when it comes to booking any vacation rental.

But what exactly is it you’re paying for?

We checked for mountain cabins, and found a rental that listed for:

  • $2,700 for the week for the house.
  • But then comes a cleaning fee of $326.
  • And a Vrbo service fee of $428.
  • That brings it to $3,400 for the week, before tax.

Sally French, a travel expert for NerdWallet.com, says high cleaning fees especially catch a lot of people off guard.

The problem is that they don’t show up on the front page.

“It’s not until they actually click into the listing that they’re able to see what the cleaning fee is,” she said.

“What’s unfortunate,” she said, “is someone who says their budget’s $100. They might overlook the nice rental that’s $110 with no cleaning fee.”

She says make sure you account for fees when setting your vacation budget.

Or, she said, look for rentals without a cleaning fee, even if the nightly rate is higher.

Also, she says, never book a property with a high cleaning fee if you’re only staying for one or two nights: a hotel may make more sense.

Vrbo tells us the company is only responsible for setting the service fee which it says “covers the cost of secure transactions, product development, and customer service.”

Other fees, such as the cleaning fee and pet fees, are set by the host.

Debbie Wright says she will never fall in love with a rental again, until she sees the price after fees.

“It gets frustrating, it gets really really frustrating,” she said.

So check the fees before you decide that is the rental home for you, so you don’t waste your money.

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