10 Outrageous Markups You’d Never Guess You Were Paying

Sticker shocker: You might not think much about how products are priced, but we did the math to calculate how much you're spending.

1. Text messages: 6,000% markup

iStock/DaniloAndjus

Phone users commonly pay 10 cents per text message, but sending the message only costs the carrier a sixth of a cent. If the phone company applied text-message mark-up to a short phone call, you’d pay $120 for the call.

2. Movie theater popcorn: 1,275% markup

iStock/lolostock

Theaters know that viewers will pay more for movie snacks, so they hike the prices up: A bag of popcorn that costs 37 cents to make can easily sell for $5. One man in Michigan found the price so outrageous that he's suing his local theater.

3. Brand-name drugs: 200 to 3,000% markup

iStock/Rob Mattingley

You may feel more comfortable buying brand-name medicines, but know what you're paying for: A bottle of Advil may run for $10, compared to just $2 for generic painkillers that are just as effective.

4. Coffee on the go: 300% markup.

iStock/AJ_Watt

A $2 cup made by a barista would cost just 50 cents to brew at home.

Content continues below ad

5. Greeting cards: 200% markup

iStock/EvgeniiAnd

When you buy a greeting card from a drugstore, chances are you're paying at least three times what it cost the company to make. Hello, free e-cards! Or get crafty with the crayons.

6. Bottled water: 4000% markup

iStock/baona

A $2 water bottle costs the manufacturer only about 5 cents to make.

7. Wine at a restaurant: 300% markup

iStock/c8501089

Restaurants routinely charge as much as $30 for bottles of wine that retail online for $7 or $8. Check if the restaurant allows BYOB in advance, or opt for a non-alcoholic beverage.

8. Hotel minibar: 400% markup

iStock/serezniy

The convenience of the mini-fridge comes at a cost. A simple candy bar, bag of chips, or can of soda can cost $5 or $10 in your hotel room, so stock up on snacks at a local drugstore for much less before you check in.

Content continues below ad

9. In-room hotel movies: 200% markup

iStock/Leonardo Patrizi

Renting a movie usually costs a few dollars at most, but do it through your hotel and you'll easily pay $10 or $15.

10. Precut produce: 40% markup

iStock/elenaleonova

Precut fruits and vegetables save you time, but definitely not money: The grocery store charges almost 1.5 times more than for uncut produce.

View as Slideshow

Become more interesting every week!

The Reader's Digest "Read Up" Newsletter

We will use your email address to send you this newsletter. For more information please read our privacy policy.