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.
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
- Use of pool, sauna, hot tub
- Use of lounge chairs, umbrellas, pool towels
- In-room coffee, tea, bottled water
- Storing luggage
- Deliveries (mail, packages)
- Shuttle service
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.
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:
- Choice hotels
- Club Carlson hotels
- Fairmont hotels
- Hilton hotels (only if you book directly with Hilton at some hotels)
- Hyatt hotels
- IHG Hotels
- Marriott hotels (when you book directly with Marriott)
- Starwood hotels (when you book directly with Starwood)
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?