Reader Question: Do You Pay Taxes On Hotel Award Stays?

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Million Mile Secrets reader Gabe writes in:

Hey Daraius, do you know when staying at a Hyatt on points are you charged taxes on top of the points? 

I’m staying at the Park Hyatt in Milan next year and I wanted to see if I would be charged taxes because the confirmation email says something about 10% tax but I wasn’t sure if that was only for paid stays.  Would I get taxed 10% on the going rate even though I’m using points?  Thanks!

Hotels Charge Taxes On Cash Bookings

If you pay for a hotel with cash (not points), you also have to pay tax on the room price.  The rate you see on a hotel website does NOT include taxes on the room.

For example, if you pay $640 in cash (instead of 22,000 Hyatt points!) for a room at the Park Hyatt Milan, your total cost is not $640.

Room At Park Hyatt Milan Before Tax

The Price on Hotel Websites is WITHOUT tax for Cash Reservations

Your total cost is $640 + TAX.  So your $640 room really costs $711 once you include the $71 in tax.

Room At Park Hyatt Milan With Tax

A $640 Room Actually Costs $711 With Tax

Hotel Award Bookings Are Free

However, you don’t usually pay taxes on a hotel award stay.

Hotel award stays, unlike airline award seats, are usually completely free.

There Are No Taxes On Hotel Award Stays

There Are No Taxes On Hotel Award Stays

But There May Be Other Fees

Even though you won’t pay taxes on a hotel award stay, you may have to pay resort fees in some hotels.

“Resort fees” are extra fees which some resort hotels charge all guests.  These fees are a sneaky way to charge guests extra for things like newspapers, access to the fitness centers, (slow) internet connections etc.

You will pay the resort fee for Best Western award stays.

For award stays at Club Carlson hotels, it is up to the individual hotel if they want to charge a resort fee on an award stay.

Some Starwood hotels charge resort fees even on award stays.

For example, the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort in Puerto Rico charges a $60 per night resort fee EVEN on award stays!

St. Regis Puerto Rico Charges A $60 Resort Fee On All Stays

St. Regis Puerto Rico Charges A $60 Resort Fee Even If You Use Your Points!

I called a few hotel chains, and Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Marriott said that they do NOT charge resort fees on award stays.  Do note that you will pay resort fees if you redeem Hyatt points for select MGM hotels in Las Vegas, but not at other Hyatt hotels.  You may see a resort fee mentioned on the hotel’s website, but you shouldn’t be charged the fee if you redeem points for the stay.

That said, I’m not sure how accurate this is for Marriott because Googling around brings up reports of folks charged resort fees on Marriott award stays.

We weren’t charged resort fees at the Hyatt Regency Maui when we stayed there in March.  But you should always confirm if there are resort fees before you book the hotel.

However, you will have to pay valet and parking fees on award stays.  Valet and parking fees are considered incidental expenses just like laundry or minibar charges.  For example, we had to pay $30 for mandatory valet parking at the Grand Wailea in Maui.

Bottom Line

Hotel award redemptions are usually completely tax free, and you will not pay taxes on hotel award stays.  This means that you really can get a free stay at a hotel using your points!

But you might have to pay a resort fee or valet fees if the hotel charges them, though resort fees are usually waived on award bookings.

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25 responses to “Reader Question: Do You Pay Taxes On Hotel Award Stays?

  1. What route would you go to try to get a resort fee waived (in my case vegas)? Complain about slow wifi?

  2. Craig,

    Why are you being so cheap…it sounds as if you’re willing to make up an excuse to try to get a fee waived.


  3. In my experience this is true except for Choice hotels. Many of these hotels charge the tax you would have paid if you had paid cash.

  4. I just checked my award reservation at the Marriott Resort & Spa in Khao Lak Thailand for next March. On the reservation detail it says “Service Charge” and “Government Taxes and Fees” are included.

    My booking at Le Meridien Chiang Mai is charging me about $6 total in Government taxes, Room Taxes and a Service charge because I am using the Cash + Points option. If I change to all points, I would probably not be charged those fees.

  5. Nope…I take that back. I went back and made another booking at Le Meridien Chiang Mai for my dates using points only (no cash) and it said I would have to pay a 10% service charge, which came to $3.38. 10% of what, I wonder? The room rate is 5,000 THB ($161). $3 is better than $16, so I wouldn’t complain.

  6. We will be staying at the Park Hyatt in Paris in Nov., I know you and Emily stayed there on your honeymoon, do you have the general managers email? Also can you pay for cab, food ect… with dollars or just euros if just euros would you get them at the airport? Thanks

    • @craig – You could try asking nicely.

      @L Roland – I wonder if you will actually be charged that amount when you check out.

      @Tammy – I wrote a post today on how you can get that information. You have to pay for cabs with cash, and small shops may not accept credit cards. See this post for more information.

  7. I have payed taxes on hotel award statys. seems to vary by chain and country. paid taxes on a Marriot points stay in latin america, but not starwood or club carlson

  8. I just paid $26.00 for a “resort fee” at Marriott, Kauai. Award stay.
    They did upgrade me to a King corner suite, early check in.
    I think the Marriott policy varies by location.

  9. In March 2013 I was charged city tax for award stays in Holiday Inn and Choice hotels in Italy.

  10. As always, there is an exception.

    Surprisingly, La Quinta award stays do charge for taxes.

    Still, for some small towns, their properties are really good and require very few points.

  11. I think I remember reading that the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek only waives their resort fee for Diamonds on award stays. Platinum and regular members still pay $25/day even on awards.

    I also thought that hotels in the EU were required to display the price inclusive of taxes. Does this not apply to their American websites, or am I just mistaken?

  12. I paid a $25 per day resort fee in Waikiki at the Marriott on my award stay.

    No complaints here though. Waikiki for $25 per day is quite a bargain.

  13. My experience. Last month, we got 2 rooms in at the Holiday Inn Express in Zurich. One room was for points and one room was BRG. The room for points did not charge tax. The BRG room I had to pay about 5 CHF.

  14. Depends on the country I guess. Just recently Holiday Inn in France charged me the city tax on the award stay. It’s just a couple of euros a day though.

  15. Taxes imposed on award stays is primarily a US thing. We stayed on points at Hilton, Marriott and IHG hotels in Germany, France, and Belgium last summer, and in Spain this June, and we were not charged taxes at any of them.

    Typically, European hotels, even if part of US chains, do not charge “extra” taxes on cash stays either. As is the case with airline prices in the US now, the taxes are already included in the price you are quoted initially. The main exception is the one or two euro per day city room tax, which you usually have to pay in cash at the hotel. Although there frequently is a charge for parking if they have a garage.

    The only exception I know of is Marriott in Prague, where they do sneak in extra taxes on paid stays. But then Prague is famous for overcharging ie $400 cab rides, and seemingly complimentary dishes that end up doubling your dinner bill. 🙁

    But resorts on the US mainland, Hawaii, and Mexico are shameless on the way they pile on taxes, resort fees, parking charges, etc so it’s important to find out the total price before you book.

  16. just stayed a week at the Crown

    Just stayed a week at the Crown Plaza Montreal on pointsbreaks and the bill was $0.

    Used a week free car from Hertz out of Burlington and the bill was $17 for airport fees.

  17. Just checked out of the Park Hyatt Milan this morning on a points stay. Only charged the €5 euro city tax per night and that was it.

  18. Don’t forget that Starwood charges tax on the cash portion of cash and points.

  19. @ the guy traveling to Thailand, Chiang Mai, Lemeridan is in fantastic location. it is at the best area of chiangmai. it is about 2 minutes walk, right outside the hotel where all the night market starts. there is burger king and macdonald. It is the best area. I was there in FEB for 7 nights, stayed 5 nights at the ROYAL PRINCESS hotel which is only 1 minute away from Lemeridan hotel. I used AA miles to book my 5 nights stay at RP hotel , each night was about 5200 miles a night with breakfast. I didn”t have status with starwood so I had to go to mcdonald for breakfast.
    Chiang Mai rocks, go to tiger kingdom

  20. I can’t pick just one reason. Free bags, companion pass, cheap flights.

  21. The British Colonial Hilton in The Bahamas (Nassau) does charge a resort fee on award stays. $40 per day if I recall…

  22. Daraius, do you know if hotels would allow you to redeem the hotel points for a room for another person just like the airlines could redeem the miles for another unrelated person?

  23. Just to add, stayed at the Grand Hyatt Kauai last month. Not only did they charge me the resort fee, they also charged for their “upgraded” high speed internet, despite them telling me it was free to Platinum members. They reversed everything except food charges, ha ha, once I reminded them it was an award stay. They apologized. So word to the wise, if you see the resort fee or internet fee, or even parking fee, make sure to call the front desk and ask if that is correct! Also stayed at the Tropicana Las Vegas, now part of Hilton Doubletree as of Jan. Stayed with points, no resort fee charged which is typically $25 I believe. Had to be asked 3x to move to a different room for various issues but their customer service was very good.

  24. Hilton Stucky Molino Venice charged 10 Euros per night for city tax on an award stay.