Using points to book free hotel stays is a terrific way to save money. So it’s extremely frustrating when you think you’re getting a great deal. Then, show up at check-in to find out you have to pay ridiculous fees to park your car.
I understand parking is limited in many big cities. But even hotels in Las Vegas where land is plentiful now charge for parking. And if you’re staying for a few nights, these costs can add up quickly!
Even more annoying, some hotels do NOT show parking costs during the booking process. You shouldn’t have to waste time digging through the hotel’s website to figure out the fees.
I’ll share tips so you can avoid overpaying for parking on your next hotel stay!
How Much Is Too Much for Hotel Parking?
From my experience, many hotels hire third-party companies to operate parking. And some parking companies actually pay the hotel a set amount each year to operate their parking. As a result, they’re incentivized to charge expensive parking fees to make their money back and turn a profit.
Regardless of who operates the parking and sets the fees, I think the amount you pay has a significant impact on your overall experience. And frugal folks like me or those traveling on a budget shouldn’t be blindsided by excessive charges.
And in many cities, hotels offer valet-only parking. While this can be an added convenience, it also allows hotels to charge a higher fee for this service without giving you alternative self-parking options.
These are a few of the excessive nightly parking fees I found:
- ~$74 at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis
- ~$70 at the Grand Hyatt New York
- ~$65 at The Peninsula Chicago
- ~$49 at The Westin Gaslamp San Diego
This list may not even be the biggest offenders of outrageous parking fees. I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you know of other hotels!
5 Tips to Avoid Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees
Here are ideas to save money on hotel parking.
1. Plan Ahead and Search for Parking Alternatives
In many cities, you can find public parking garages or lots. Although you’ll still have to pay, the fees are typically much cheaper than what you’ll pay at a hotel.
For example, Million Mile Secrets team member Harlan recently stayed at the Sheraton Denver Downtown where overnight self-parking is $40 per night and valet parking is $49 per night. Just around the block was a parking garage charging $12 per night.
If you’re searching for parking alternatives, I suggest using Google Maps to identify nearby options. After searching for your hotel, you can click “Nearby.” Then, search for “parking garages” or “parking lots.”
There are also websites and apps, which can help you find cheap parking, like:
Be sure to understand your parking privileges when using an alternative garage. For example, each time you exit the garage, you might have to pay. So alternative garages might not be good for folks driving back and forth to the hotel multiple times each day.
2. Compare Rideshare Costs
For example, on a recent trip to New York City, team member Keith paid ~$100 total for Uber rides between Newark airport and his hotel in Midtown Manhattan. Paying the parking fees for his 4-night stay would have cost ~$280!
3. Check for Hotel Packages With Discounted Parking Fees
When you book directly, some hotels offer deals on parking.
For example, I saw a promotion at the DoubleTree Suites by Hilton Santa Monica to save $20 per day on valet parking. So instead of paying $39, you’ll pay $19.
There might even be deals when you use points for an award stay.
Team member Scott booked a free stay for his parents at the InterContinental Times Square. And booking directly with points got his parents a discounted overnight parking rate. The small catch was you couldn’t drive in and out.
4. Negotiate With Your Elite Status
Hotels like to extend special courtesies to folks with elite status. Because they want these guests to keep coming back!
So if you’re staying at a hotel that charges for parking, kindly request the hotel waive the fee. I can’t guarantee this will work, but it’s worth a shot!
They suggest asking the front desk associate or “can you waive the parking fee or offer a discount because I have elite status?“
5. Use Miles or Points With Certain Credit Cards to Erase the Parking Expense
If you must pay for hotel parking, you might be able to ease the pain by using miles or points to offset the charge when you use certain credit cards.
For example, with the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, the miles you earn are worth 1 cent each toward travel. So you can use 5,000 miles to offset a $50 travel expense, including parking.
And it’s quick and easy to use miles to offset charges. Team member Joseph has the Capital One Venture card and normally gets reimbursed for travel purchases within a day or two of redeeming miles. Just remember, you have 90 days to sign-in to your online account, find the parking expense, and “erase” it with your miles!
You shouldn’t have to deal with shocking hotel parking fees when you show up to check-in. Paying ~$50 to ~$75 per night is outrageous. This expense can really add up if you’re staying for a few nights!
I recommend these tips to avoid overpaying for parking on your next stay:
- Plan ahead and search for parking alternatives using Google Maps “nearby” feature
- Use sites and apps like Best Parking, Smooth Parking, Park Whiz find cheaper parking close to your hotel
- Run the numbers to see if you can save money by using Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare services
- Check for hotel packages that include free parking or discounts
- Negotiate at the hotel using your elite status
- Use miles or points to offset parking charges with cards like the Capital One Venture
What’s the worst hotel parking fee you’ve encountered? And how do you think we should solve the excessive parking fee epidemic?