15 most hated fees

Stand up to the pesky charges -- from checked-bag costs to retirement plan expenses -- that bug you the most.

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5. Laying out too much in annuity fees
What it costs: $$$$

What you're mad about: Reader Nadine Guilbault reports that "we have unknown fees with our variable annuity." No wonder she's in the dark. Expenses on these tax-deferred insurance products (the value of which depends on underlying investments you select) tend to run 2% to 3% annually, says Glenn Daily, a fee-only insurance adviser. But it's nearly impossible to figure out exactly what you are paying. The fees are required to be disclosed in an annuity's prospectus, which can run hundreds of pages. Once you find the right page, you have to do some complicated math to figure total costs for the specific investments, riders, and features you choose.

How to fight back: Because of the high fees, "variable annuities rarely make sense," says Allan Roth, a financial planner in Colorado Springs. If you're interested in retirement income, go with a lowercost immediate annuity. If it's tax deferral you're seeking and you're already maxing out 401(k)s and IRAs, tax-efficient funds (such as index funds and ETFs) are a better bet. Already in a variable annuity? Check out the surrender charges -- which can be as high as 10% -- before switching

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Last updated June 11 2010: 3:40 PM ET
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