Need a Passport? Prepare to Pay Up

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KEY POINTS

  • Come Dec. 27, U.S. passport fees will rise by $20.
  • Be sure to renew your passport well ahead of your travels so you don't run into problems.

Travel can be expensive. If you need a passport, it'll cost you even more.

You may be planning to do a lot more travel in 2022 -- especially if you've mostly stayed close to home since the pandemic began. If that's the case, you should start mapping out a travel budget that accounts for your various costs, from flights to lodging to food while you're away.

But another expense you may need to account for is a passport. If you'll be traveling abroad, you'll need a valid one, and if yours is expired, it's something you'll need to update. Unfortunately, the cost of doing so is about to climb.

Get ready to pay more for a passport

These days, Americans are paying more for just about everything, from gas to groceries to apparel. We can thank soaring inflation for that.

Now, the State Department has announced an increase in the cost of getting or renewing a passport. No matter which service you're seeking out, you should expect to pay $20 more than the current rate effective Dec. 27.

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For example, right now, the cost to apply for or renew a passport is $110. Starting Dec. 27, it's rising to $130.

For children under the age of 16, the cost to apply for a passport is $80. Beginning next week, it will rise to $100.

Of course, in the grand scheme of the various expenses you might incur in the course of your travels, paying an extra $20 for a passport may seem negligible. But it's an increase to account for nonetheless.

When to renew your passport

Earlier in the pandemic, those applying for and renewing passports faced extreme wait times. Things have improved since then, but you should know that the normal processing time for a passport is eight to 11 weeks. You can pay a fee to expedite your passport, but that will only cut your window down to five to seven weeks.

If you know you'll be traveling abroad in the new year, do yourself a favor and get moving on your passport application or renewal as early as possible. That could help you avoid a lot of stress if processing times start to take longer.

How to make up for higher passport costs

Paying more for a passport can be a bummer when you're trying to make the most of the money you have available to travel with. But there may be a few ways you can compensate for that higher fee.

First, if you're taking a flight, book it using a travel rewards credit card. Often, these cards give you a free checked bag, the cost of which is generally around $30. Even a single checked bag you don't have to pay for could make up for a higher passport fee.

Another option is to rent a private home instead of staying at a hotel during your travels. Even if your nightly rate doesn't end up being lower, generally, with a private home, you'll have the option to cook meals rather than have to buy them at restaurants. That, too, could make up for the extra money you have to spend on a passport.

Ultimately, a higher passport fee may not impact your travel budget all that much. But it's still good to know what costs you're in for.

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