Fee creep is pricing Americans out of concerts, movies and even dining out

  • High-priced fees are keeping people from attending live events (56%) 
  • 80% of Americans have noticed a “fee creep” over the last 12 months 
  • Despite rising fees, Gen Z and millennials are willing to spend whatever it takes to attend live entertainment events (33% and 31% respectively)

The cost of living has skyrocketed over the last few years, impacting everything from the price of transportation and housing to the cost of everyday goods and services, including how much people tip. Now, there’s a new expense creeping up on consumers: fees – and they’re pricing many out of events and live entertainment.  

According to a new study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma, 56% of Americans say the high price of fees, including service fees and processing fees, have held them back from attending events, such as sporting events or live concerts – the result of a rising trend known as “fee creep.” For the purposes of this study, fee creep is defined as a rise in the number of fees associated with activities such as concert tickets, movies, dining out and more. 

Over the last year, 80% of respondents say they’ve observed a somewhat-to-significant increase in the number of fees associated with ticket prices for entertainment events, and it’s fueling trust issues among consumers. More than half (56%) of Americans say they’ve lost trust in ticketing companies because of the hidden fees they charge. And, it’s not just ticketing companies who are spiking fees. Americans have noticed fee creep across a number of activities, including dining out (56%), hotels and lodging (48%), movie theaters (41%), theme parks (33%) and even rental cars (25%).

Regardless, the majority of people (72%) are willing to spend money on additional fees for a single event or activity, but few (6%) are willing to spend more than $50. Instead, more than half of respondents (55%) say they’d be willing to pay up to $30 in fees for an event. Despite an increase in the number of fees, younger generations don’t see them as a big barrier to entry. According to the study, Gen Z and millennials are most willing to fork over cash for additional fees, 90% and 85% respectively. That’s compared to 33% of Gen X and 45% of boomers+ who are unwilling to pay for fees.

Gen Z and millennials’ acceptance of fees could have something to do with the pressure they feel to participate in live events or experiences. One-third of Gen Z and 31% of millennials reported that they feel pressure to spend money they don’t have on live events or experiences due to social media. This pressure is driving younger generations to spend whatever it takes to attend live entertainment events. According to the study, one third of Gen Z and 31% of millennials say they’re willing to spend whatever it takes to attend live entertainment events. Some have even taken extreme actions to pay their way. 

Gen Z and millennials have gone to great lengths to afford tickets to live entertainment, including cutting back on dining out (35% of Gen Z and 33% of millennials), borrowing money from savings (30% of Gen Z and 21% of millennials), taking on credit card debt (21% of Gen Z and 28% of millennials), and even sacrificing food or necessities (19% of Gen Z and 14% of millennials). 

“Over the last few years, we’ve seen a rise in prices for most things and, while the sticker shock has worn off for many people, others are digging into increased prices and noticing significant increases in fees,” said Courtney Alev, consumer financial advocate at Intuit Credit Karma. “Similar to tipflation, consumers have started to notice an uptick in the number and size of fees associated with their transactions, which is eating into their budgets and making it difficult for them to enjoy the same level of activity as they’re used to. If you’re someone who is experiencing fee fatigue, but still willing to spend whatever it takes to enjoy the experience, it’s important to check in and assess your spending to determine what you can reasonably afford and if it fits into your budget. If it doesn’t, consider saving up for the activity or making room elsewhere in your budget to make it happen.” 


This survey was conducted online within the United States by Qualtrics on behalf of Intuit Credit Karma between September 1, 2023 and September 4, 2023 among 1,006 adults ages 18 and older.