10 things that used to be free but now cost money

They say the best things in life are free – but the list of such things seems to be getting shorter by the day.

Businesses are constantly coming up with more ways to nickel and dime customers, and many items that used to be gratis now come with a fee.

We can only imagine how much longer this list will be in 10 years – and what new items will be on it.

Here are some products and services that, back in the good old days, used to be free of charge but now will cost you.

Airline extras

Airfares may below these days, but don’t be fooled: Just because you’re paying less for an actual ticket doesn’t mean your overall flight experience won’t be pricey.

Many services and amenities that used to be free for airline passengers now come a la carte, depending on the airline including checking a bag, carrying on a bag, onboard snacks, beverages, meals, onboard entertainment, seat selection and more. Even if the fees are small, those charges quickly add up.

Water in restaurants


Nobody wants to look like a cheapskate, but sometimes you just want a regular glass of water – that won’t cost you an arm and a leg. Nowadays, at some restaurants, you have to specify that you want tap water.Otherwise, the waiter may automatically bring you a bottle of still or sparkling water and add it to your bill. (And just try finding the cost of said water on the menu; it’s rarely listed.) Also, some venues serve filtered tap water, such as Vero water, that’s typically billed per person.

Hotel amenities

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Just like with airline tickets, the nightly rate for a hotel room is just the tip of the cost iceberg for your overall lodging experience these days. Over the past 20 years, hotels started adding extra charges, often called“resort” fees, to offset the costs of amenities like pools, gyms, and complimentary newspapers.

Some properties take it even further by charging other types ofhidden fees on top of the typical resort fee, such as a cleaning fee, a pool/spa fee, or a processing fee. And that doesn’t even take the mini fridge into consideration.

Food delivery


In the age of third-party services like UberEats and Grubhub that charge both diners and restaurants for food delivery, you’d think that restaurants would be glad to deliver directly to the customer for free as long as the customer purchased a certain amount of food.

But some restaurants these days charge a delivery fee – sometimes ranging from $US3 to $US10 – to bring their food to your front door. But that delivery fee doesn’t go to the driver, so don’t stiff him on the tip, OK?

Plastic bags

Joe Raedle/Getty

In an effort to curb waste,California became the first state to ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags at large retail stores. The 2014 bill also called for a minimum 10 cent charge for “alternative” bags, such asrecycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, and compostable bags.

Since then, several cities have followed suit with plastic bag bans and fees, including Austin; Los Angeles; Chicago; New York; San Francisco; Seattle; and Washington, D.C..


DreamWorks/Catch Me If You Can

Once upon a time, free checking accounts were a common occurrence at banks and credit unions. But that changed when the CARD Act came into effect in 2009, eating into bank profits and spurring the institutions to start charging regular fees for checking accounts.

On top of that, banks have added extra charges over the years, including service fees, overdraft fees, and ATM fees.

Directory assistance

It seems like only yesterday when you could call 411 to quickly find a phone number for free. But phone companies put an end to that when they realised how much potentialprofit they were missing out on, and they started charging for the service. Today, for example,Verizon Wireless will charge you $US1.99 for a directory assistance call.

Just Google it, folks.

School sports

There wasn’t always a charge to participate in after-school sports like softball, track, or basketball. Parents had to cover the cost of uniforms and some gear, but that was it.

Today, some schools suffering from tight budgets employ a“pay-to-play” policy that charges each child a sports activity fee simply to participate. (And that still doesn’t cover the cost of all the requisite gear.)

Compressed air

Getty/George Marks

You wouldn’t think that businesses could charge for air – and, for a long time, most gas stations didn’t. It was common practice for a station to allow anyone and everyone free use of an air compressor to fill up their tires. However, many station owners have since made such air compressors coin operated, charging as much as $US1.50.

Online newspapers

In the early days of the internet, when print publications like newspapers were still figuring out their digital strategy, you rarely saw an outlet charging a fee to read content.

However, over the years, some newspapers like “The New York Times,” the “Washington Post,” and the “Los Angeles Times” have started charging an online subscription fee – also known as a paywall – for full access to their content as a way to bolster lagging advertising revenues.

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