Buy a new car, and you’ll likely shell out $800 or more for the destination charge. Automakers call it all sorts of things: Honda says it’s for “destination and handling,” while Subaru dubs it “destination and delivery.” Mercedes-Benz simply calls it a “transportation” fee, while Buick says it’s a “destination freight charge.” Toyota leaves nothing out with its verbose “delivery, processing and handling fee.”
Whatever the name, destination charges are on the rise. The customary fee for the 10 bestselling cars in 2003 averaged $643. By 2012, the price jumped to $879 — a 3.3% annual increase, on average, that puts destination charges on track to crest $1,000 per car by 2017. If that seems expensive, those track about even with average new-car MSRPs over the same period. The average new car ballooned from $27,836 in 2003 to $36,672 by 2012, according to CNW Marketing Research.