How to Avoid Hotel Fees

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It can be frustrating to get a good deal on a paid hotel stay, only to end up paying much more than you anticipated because of hotel fees.

Some fees are expected, like parking or consuming items from the mini-bar.  But sometimes hotels will add charges to your bill that are surprising.

And there are hotels that add a “resort fee” to the regular room rate, to cover “extras” like coffee, newspaper, fitness club admission, or local calls.

How To Avoid Hotel Fees

Some Hotels Charge Resort Fees for Amenities You’d Think Would Already Be Included in the Room Price!

So what can you do to minimize or avoid paying extra at hotels?  I’ll explain!

Where You’ll Be Charged Extra

Hotels add extra fees for the same reason airlines add fuel surcharges to tickets.  While hotels are supposed to disclose any additional charges in their advertising, fees are often hidden in the fine print.

Perks and extras that used to be included in the room rate will now often result in an fee on your bill.  And sometimes you’ll be charged (especially in the case of resort fees) whether you use these amenities or not!

Some examples of unexpected fees include:

  • Local telephone calls
  • Restocking the mini-bar (or even using the mini-bar to store personal items!)
  • In-room safe
  • Gratuities
  • Use of pool, sauna, hot tub
  • Use of lounge chairs, umbrellas, pool towels
  • In-room coffee, tea, bottled water
  • Newspaper
  • Internet
  • Storing luggage
  • Deliveries (mail, packages)
  • Shuttle service
How To Avoid Hotel Fees

Need to Store Your Bags? You Might Pay Extra at Some Hotels

It’s easy enough to avoid certain charges (bring your own snacks and drinks instead of raiding the mini-bar, use free Wi-Fi in the lobby), but what about fees for services you won’t be using?

How to Avoid Hotel Fees

1.   Know What’s Included With Your Elite Status or Award Program Membership

Resort fees usually include “bundled” amenities, like in-room Wi-Fi or bottled water.  But if you have elite status (or are just a member of the hotel award program), some of these perks should already be free.

How To Avoid Hotel Fees

Amenities Like In-Room Wi-Fi Should Already Be Included for Many Folks

Don’t hesitate to (politely!) ask hotel employees or the manager to discount or remove these fees from your bill.

For certain folks, it makes sense to consider the price of internet when booking a paid hotel stay.  Remember that many hotel chains now include free Wi-Fi when you join their free loyalty programs.

Some hotels with free Wi-Fi include:

Other popular hotel chains give you free internet when you have a certain level of status.  But you can get that status automatically when you have the right credit card!  For instance, you get free internet at Hilton hotels when you have the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card.

The Hilton Gold status you get with the Hilton HHonors Reserve card also removes the fee for using their fitness centers.  But to be safe, always ask beforehand to avoid surprises!  Because sometimes policies vary at individual hotels.

2.   Book Award Stays

Some chains, like Hyatt, will not charge a resort fee for rooms booked exclusively with points.  For example, the Grand Hyatt Kauai charges a resort fee of $25 plus tax, but Emily and I didn’t pay it for the nights we used points to stay there.   Cash and points bookings do have a resort fee added, though.

How To Avoid Hotel Fees

The Grand Hyatt Kauai Adds $25 per Night for Internet, Bottled Water, and Fitness Center Access

3.   Don’t Use Amenities, Ask for Reduction or Removal of Fees

If you know you won’t be using any of the services bundled with the resort fee, you could try asking the manager to remove the fee altogether.  You might have more success if you have elite status or stay frequently at that hotel.

How To Avoid Hotel Fees

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Hotel Managers to Discount or Remove Fees for Services You Won’t Use

This won’t always work, but it’s worth a try!  Even a small discount is better than nothing.

4.   Read the Fine Print!

Reading the fine print and asking questions before you book will help you avoid unpleasant surprises when it comes time to pay the hotel bill.

How To Avoid Hotel Fees

Don’t Pay Before Carefully Reviewing Your Hotel Bill

I always read the bill carefully before checking-out.  Sometimes hotels are sneaky and add charges for services you didn’t use (or that should have been free).  Don’t be afraid to ask the hotel to remove a charge!

Bottom Line

Extra fees charged by hotels can really add up and increase the cost of your stay.  And sometimes hotels charge for amenities you didn’t even use!

Always read the fine print and don’t be afraid to ask the hotel to remove charges from your bill.  And if you have elite status, you might be able to get resort fees refunded or discounted, because often the fee includes perks you’d already get from having status.

Do you have any tips for avoiding hotel fees?

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9 responses to “How to Avoid Hotel Fees

  1. Well, my tip for avoiding the “resort fee” (actually the “we lie about our prices to look better on searches” fee) is that I refuse to book a hotel that has one. These places are pernicious because their dishonesty forces businesses that would prefer to be honest to join in the scam or look more expensive by comparison. If I’m booking a place and find this ripoff, the process stops cold. It should be illegal to quote a price that does not include all required costs.

  2. Las Vegas hotels are notorious for this…that $59.00 rate is usually more like $90.00 with resort fees…dislike!

  3. Re Las Vegas, resort fees, you can ask that they be waived until you’re blue in the face, the chances of they being waived, close to 0. If you want to watch human misery, sit yourself down by the checkout area at checkout time, and watch the “surprise” when the bill is presented. And you think at checkin they’re goin’ waive em????

    Re Las Vegas, there ARE some hotels which do NOT charge resort fees and aren’t total dives. You might want to patronize them rather than reward this foolishness of not being totally upfront with what a hotel stay REALLY costs when you say all those quotes on your booking site. And for those booking sites that don’t disclose the resort fees, shame on them. Don’t patronize them!

    Yea, I feel really strongly about this ridiculous practice.

  4. This is a timely article. I have an upcoming 3 night stay in Vegas at the MGM grand that I booked as Hyatt award nights. They tacked on a $38.00 resort fee per night. Since this is a Hyatt property technically, can I ask them to waive the fee? Or because Hyatt is more of the umbrella organization above MGM, will they fight back against it? I’d really like to know because $114 of fees for award nights no longer makes it free! Is Hyatt’s “no resort fee” policy in writing somewhere that I can show them? FWIW, I’m a Hyatt Platnium/M Life Gold.

  5. My previous comment that I posted re LAS hotels was a general comment. Re bookings that involve reward stays, I have no experience as to what they do (I have never booked a hotel in Vegas for a reward stay–I live in Vegas).

  6. @Mark P. unfortunately no the only way to get the resort fees waived is to be a high roller.

  7. I plan events for a professional association and we actively negotiated down resort fees as part of the bidding process. At a minimum, if resort fees cannot be waived, we can freebies thrown in for our members – internet, late checkout, etc.

  8. The MGM Grand has a pretty high “resort fee”…but they do tell you about it when you reserve a room, either direct or through a 3rd party re-seller. And, when you check it they tell you again about it. No surprises I guess for this unpleasant added fee.

  9. One thing I noticed when booking with Hilton (specifically the Hilton Anatole in Dallas) that there is a $25 “Mandatory Fee” that includes self parking, but they also mention that self parking is an optional charge of $20. Asking questions beforehand really helped me avoid using Hilton in this instance.