The travel industry is riddled with fees and upcharges these days. From mandatory resort fees to airline change and baggage fees to hotel check-out fees, it can be hard to know upfront what you’re going to be paying for on a trip. As reported by CNN, airlines alone pulled in $59 billion in fees in 2015!
That’s where FeeBelly comes in. FeeBelly is a free app for iOS that scans terms and conditions, fine print, etc. for the bits you might otherwise find out about the hard way, later on. The app works by searching your uploaded or photographed documents for customizable keywords (“hidden fees and costly terms,” as written on the website), making dense, confusing contracts more digestible. Better yet, FeeBelly provides its own suggested keywords (some of which are included by default) to search for. These suggested keywords are words and phrases with a history of being troublesome for consumers tailored to the category you think your document falls into. From there, you’ll be prompted to check/uncheck a selection of keywords you might want to look out for. You can also add your own custom words (like “resort fee”).
Of course, you don’t need to select a category. You can upload/photograph a custom document (but you have to upgrade to premium fro $8.99/month) and select your own keyword, but the app’s suggestions—even if the category isn’t an exact fit—are a big help. When I tested it out, I found that most of the preset categories are not directly travel-related—and are instead related to mortgages, credit, housing loans. etc.—so I selected “General Agreements or Contracts.” I could add my own keywords to search for, and after uploading a photo of some terms and conditions (actually those of FeeBelly to test it out), it took less than a minute to scan the page.
It’s not perfect yet, and it may not be fast enough to use in every hotel search, for example, but all in all it’s a fantastic tool for anyone booking travel (and more). And for a free app? As The New York Post says, FeeBelly “reveals the loads atop loads atop loads of finely printed hidden fees buried like the deep state in airline tickets, hotels, baggage checks and spa treatments.” That’s worth a download, right?
Have you tried FeeBelly? What do you think?