What Is a Service Fee? Definition, 5 Types, Example

A service fee is an extra fee applied to the price of a product or service to account for supplementary assistance. In many service-based industries, such as restaurants, banking, and the travel and hospitality industries, service fees are widespread. Click on each section below to read more information related to service fee.

What Is a Service Fee?

A service fee is a monetary charge added to a customer’s bill or account for a service that has been provided by a business. Depending on the industry, such fees might take several forms. The most frequently encountered expenditures by clients are bank fees, credit card fees, and service fees from other utility suppliers.

What Is a Service Fee?

Understanding Service Fee

Service fees are additional expenses spent in conjunction with a product or service transaction. Most of the time, they are collected at the time of the consumer-business transaction.

Concert venues, for instance, may add a service charge to the price of a ticket at checkout to assist pay the expense of providing security or the enhanced convenience of online transactions.

Sometimes, payment for a service is referred to as a service fee. Booking fees (hotels), security expenses (travel), maintenance fees (banking), and customer service fees all refer to the same item under different names.

Types of Service Fee

Hospitality Industry

In the majority of hotels and restaurants in the United States, a service fee, which is often a percentage of the total price, is added to the bill.

What Is a Service Fee?

Examples of service fees include a hotel’s required delivery cost for room service and a restaurant’s compulsory inclusion of a gratuity for large parties.

Therefore, if the total cost of the order is $250 and the required gratuity is 18%, the total amount owed would be $250 + (18% x $250) = $295.

Banking Industry

Numerous financial services have a cost, which is often a flat sum. The majority of banks impose a monthly maintenance fee for both checking and savings accounts.

What Is a Service Fee?

At the end of each month, this amount will be deducted from your account. If you use an ATM belonging to a competitor bank or send a wire transfer, your own bank will charge you a service fee.

Travel Industry

Checked and oversize baggage fees, change and cancellation fees, early seat selection fees, and in-flight experience fees (for items such as WiFi, food, and entertainment) are a few of the numerous service fees collected by airlines.

Departing and connecting passengers may be compelled to pay an airport improvement charge, sometimes known as an embarkation fee, at an airport. Airport taxes are often levied by the government or an airport management corporation to fund infrastructure renovations and service expansions.

What Is a Service Fee?

Depending on the destination airport, airlines may collect airport improvement fees from passengers and pay them to the appropriate authorities on their behalf. In certain instances, the fee can be paid in advance, whilst in others it must be paid at the port of departure.

Residential Property

For some residential apartments, a service charge may be applied to the monthly rent or lease payment. In the case of a condominium, for example, the tenant may be responsible for additional expenses, such as a monthly condo association fee.

The unit fee includes maintenance and care of communal facilities. Transaction expenses are covered by service fees for online rental markets that link tenants and owners.

What Is a Service Fee?

The service charge is always applied as a percentage of the total amount, regardless of whether the individual is a tenant or a homeowner.

Utility Industry

In addition to the cost of the power consumed, the majority of utility providers charge consumers extra fees for their services. Hydro Quebec, for example, charges for a variety of services, including the initial installation fee, the monthly meter reading fee, etc.

Example of Service Fee

John and his girlfriend are celebrating their anniversary after two years together. He chooses the most romantic restaurant in all of Vancouver’s downtown. The duo is quickly greeted by a huge group of waiters and shown to their table.

What Is a Service Fee?

The cost of the meal itself is $120. (plus tip). Since the restaurant’s wait staff went above and above, John decided to add a 15% tip (service charge) to his bill.

Service Fees Versus Tips

According to the Internal Revenue Service, there is a considerable difference between service fees and gratuities. Any price added to the final bill that is not paid directly by the client is referred to as a “service charge.”

IRS service costs include banquet charges, automatic restaurant gratuities for large parties, hotel room fees, bottle fees, and cruise vacation packages.

It is the obligation of the employer to report service fees to the IRS in the same manner as other kinds of pay.

What Is a Service Fee?

In contrast, gratuities are not anticipated. The decision of a consumer to tip is totally discretionary. Tips may be given in cash or via an electronic payment mechanism. In certain instances, such as with tickets for other expensive items, they may be made in kind.

No service provider, retailer, or restaurant may require a certain amount of gratuity; it is up to the client to decide what is appropriate. In addition, the customer chooses who receives the tip.


When purchasing a product or service, you may be forced to pay a fee known as a service fee (or service charge). Simply explained, a service charge is an extra cost for a certain sort of service that is part of a bigger transaction.

Booking fees (hotels), maintenance fees (banks), and security deposits (insurance firms) are examples of this sort of expenditure, however their names differ by industry (travel).

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