In this article I will try to teach you how to avoid most common tourist scams while visiting New York City. Because like everywhere else there are a lot of scammers that will try to take an advantage of you and rip you off, especially if you are a tourist in the city.
First one I would like to mention is if you are leaving New York from the JFK airport. If you are traveling with the subway, at the subway exit there will be a lot of people that will approach you, especially if you are holding the luggage. They will ask you for your spare metro card, and a lot of people are giving the card away since they are leaving New York and hey think that they not going to need it anymore. Something that most of you don’t know is that you are going to need that card in order to take the train to the desired airport gate. If you give the yellow card away then you will need to spend additional $5 to buy a new ticket for the train that goes to the gates.
For example we had $4,50 balance on our card left, so we went to the machine we put an additional $5,50 so we had enough value balance for two train rides to the airport gates with the same yellow regular metro card that we used while our stay in New York.
The next tip is to try to stay away from the outdoor ATM machines. There is great possibility that you might be watched and ripped out. Besides of that a lot of people are choosing the ATM in the banks because they feel more safe. The best place to withdraw money from the ATMs in NYC are definitely all the big McDonald’s restaurants. Their machines are safe and they are having lower fees than the ones on the banks.
During our New York city tour our guide Rachel warned us about the Time Square scammers. Be aware of the fake ”would be” rapers that will approach you to sell their CD’s. These CD’s are usually empty.
Some scammers are selling cheap tickets for stand up comedy shows for at least $20, something that they are not mentioning is the drink minimum you have to take during these shows. So it can turn to be much more expensive that you originally thought.
If you wish to visit a Broadway show I suggest you to book your tickets on line before you go. If you find the tickets expensive you might try to get some cheaper or even for free for the famous Broadway shows through the BroadwayForBrokePeople.com website. They have some digital lottery where you can win really cheap tickets for the most famous Broadway shows. Just to let you know these lottery tickets usually are for the seats that are located on the first rows under the stage, so you have to watch the show with your head slightly up all the time. But in order to save some money it can be a good solution.
One of the oldest scams that you can experience in New York according to Rachel is that someone might bump up on you and drop something down. For example, a bottle of alcohol, or sunglasses or a mobile phone. They will demand of you to go immediately to the ATM and pay them $50 for the damage. The only thing you have to do if that happen to you is just walk away. If the person get pushy and start to follow you and yell at you, just turn toward them and say OK, lets go to the police station to sort this out. The scammer is going to walk away and live you alone immediately.
There are also a lot of fake monks that will approach you to sell you a bracelets in order to build the Buddhist temple. They are not real, if you wish to donate some money to the Buddhist temple or any other religious organization just do it online, don’t give your money to some random fake monks or to a random good Samaritan on the street.
The restaurants chains at Time Square, and others, are automatically charging for the 18% tip, but there is the one more line on the bill for additional tip, so check the bill first before you add value for additional tip, because you will end up paying double price at the end by adding 20% additional tip on the top of already charged 18% tip. So always look at your bill carefully before you pay.
Regarding Time Square, please do not take any pictures of the people wearing the cartoon and superhero characters costumes. They are going to chase you down for cash and you better run away from them as fast as you can. If you have a selfie stick and you are an adventurous person, you might even film them while chasing you and get yourself a funny video to upload on YouTube.
We saw a few of them beating each other out at Time Square, while fighting for the territory. It was so funny, but I didn’t capture it on camera in order to avoid to be beaten up myself.
Next I would like to mention is to never buy food from the street vendors if they don’t have listed prices, because they will try to rip you off and you will end up paying a double price for a hot-dog than it usually is. It happened to us near of Central Park where we paid $4 for two small bottles of water (that was not even cold).
Something that’s not a scam, but it’s good to know as a tourist. While in New York we visited the Top of The Rock Observation Deck, and we paid for two tickets $64, because we visited the place in the afternoon they charged us additional $20 for the sunset view. So, if you are not up to pay $84 for the NYC view I suggest you to visit the 230 fifth rooftop bar that you can visit for free, you just need to have an ID with you in order to enter the building. The beer at the bar costs $6, the wine $7. So, you can admire the beautiful NYC view and save almost $80 for your NYC shopping. I described the experiences from both of the above mentioned places and you can check the links above if you wish to find out more about those two favorite NYC spots.
If you wish to take a look of the Statue of Liberty and the Lower Manhattan for free you can take the Staten Island Ferry for free, just take a seat on the right side of the boat and that’s it. If anyone approaches you to sell you a ticket for the Staten Island Ferry go immediately to the police because the ferry ride is free.
If you wish to buy NYC souvenirs or T-shirts, do not buy them at Time Square shops. You can get them for half the price at China town, Little Italy, Midtown Manhattan or Soho, trust me.
If you are not up to walking around Central Park, do not pay a Pedicab that charges $5 for a minute. The half hour ride around Central Park in the Pedicab can cost you even more that the plane ticket from your city to New York. It is better to rent a city bike instead. It will cost you $12 for 24 hours and then you can ride a whole day wherever you wish.
There are many more scams that you should be aware while visiting the NYC, but I listed the most common in this article. I hope you will find this article helpful. If you wish to find a nice place to stay in NYC and Manhattan, please check the link NYC accommodation. There you can find all different kinds of hotels, reviews, prices and information about availability for your desired dates. We stayed at the Avalon hotel, I will describe our experience in one of my next articles. I would really appreciate if you book your accommodation through my affiliate link.