I’m Annoyed With Sneaky & Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees!

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I’m Annoyed With Sneaky & Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees!

Million Mile SecretsI’m Annoyed With Sneaky & Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees!Million Mile Secrets Team

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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!

Avoid Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees
Hotels Shouldn’t Take Advantage of Guests by Charging Excessive Parking Fees!

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.

Avoid Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees
Valet Parking at Hotels Can Add Convenience, but It Comes at a Cost

These are a few of the excessive nightly parking fees I found:

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.”

Avoid Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees
Use the Nearby Feature in Google Maps to Find Cheaper Parking Garages Close to Your Hotel

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

Instead of driving to a hotel, you can potentially save money by using Uber, Lyft, or other rideshare services.

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.

Avoid Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees
When Booking Your Stay, Check If the Hotel Offers a Discounted Parking Package

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!

Avoid Outrageous Hotel Parking Fees
Folks With Elite Status Should Ask the Hotel If They’ll Waive the Parking Fee! It Never Hurts to Ask!

Team member Harlan had his parking fee waived at a Hyatt hotel in Dallas.  And having Starwood Platinum elite status saved team member Keith from paying for parking at a hotel in Los Angeles. 

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!

Or if parking is $100+, you could use Barclaycard Arrival miles earned from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite Mastercard® to offset the charge within 120 days. 

Bottom Line

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 ParkingSmooth ParkingPark 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?

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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If you are looking for free parking and free shuttle service http://buyreservations.com is the way to go. All of their hotels include free long-term parking and free round-trip shuttle service.

Rebecca McCrone

I paid $225 plus tips for 4 nights at Marriott’s Le Merigo in Santa Monica and I’m Platinum Elite. I’ve never understood why they don’t allow you to pay for parking with points or at least offer a discount for loyalty status.

90% of the time if there is a high parking fee we don’t rent a car. So if you figure the two costs together you can do a lot of uber or Lyft. Plus with Amex plat you save even more. Doing this in San Diego this weekend.

On a low side of 125 a day for parking and car in SF. That’s a lot of rides. You’re probably making money

I use Parking Panda and save usually more than half the cost of parking at the hotel. And usually get more than 24 hours of parking for one price.

Two apps that I’ve used to find discounted parking in Chicago are ParqEx and SpotHero.

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