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Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel? I Mean, Is It REALLY Necessary?

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Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel? I Mean, Is It REALLY Necessary?

Joseph HostetlerDo You Have to Check Out of a Hotel? I Mean, Is It REALLY Necessary?Million Mile Secrets Team

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I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve properly checked out of a hotel.  I usually leave as discreetly and quickly as possible.  And I’m doubly unlikely to check out if there’s a queue at the front desk.

Some hotels allow you to check out by simply pressing a button inside their mobile app.  It couldn’t be easier.  But having never experiencing backlash of any kind for skipping the process, it just seems wholly unnecessary, no matter how simple.

So, do you have to check out of a hotel?  My recent hotel experience prods me to think it’s a great idea.

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Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel?
A big reason for checking out of a hotel is to discuss the bill with the front desk

Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel?

Ruminating on the subject, there are only two reasons I can pinpoint for checking out of a hotel.  They’re actually both legitimate, and may persuade me to do it more often.

  1.   Check the Bill for Incorrect Charges

The biggest reason to check out of your hotel is to view your bill and contest anything that may be incorrect.  LOTS of possible errors can occur.

Of course, checking out still isn’t entirely necessary.  You can dispute a charge over the phone later, but it’s just easier face-to-face.

I’ve never found an incorrect charge on my final bill, but I do check it every time.  One thing I find moderately concerning is when hotels allow you to charge your meal directly to your room number.  Anyone can jot the wrong room number on the check (unintentionally or otherwise), and that meal could instantly be added to your room tab.

I charged my meal to my room at the Grand Hyatt in Dallas. I could have written ANY room number and seemingly just slipped away scot-free

Jason ran into a related issue during a stay at The Gwen in Chicago.  When reviewing his bill, he discovered a meal expense that didn’t belong to him.  When he queried the front desk, they discovered the charge was from the previous guest that was staying in his room.  The hotel had charged the room after Jason checked in, so it was added to HIS bill.

Other unexpected charges can come from inside the room.  During a recent stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, I fell victim to minibar sensors.

Some hotel minibars have weight sensors that are tripped when you lift an item, and your room is automatically charged.  It’s a you-touch-it-you-buy-it policy.  Not until this hotel stay have I been bamboozled by minibar sensors, but this time they got me.  I had rifled through the alcohol, picking up bottles to read the labels, and inadvertently spending ~$80 in the process.

I made sure to check out and receive my final bill so I could explain that I hadn’t actually purchased minibar items, but fortunately I wasn’t charged.  The front desk said you have a few seconds to replace an item after you pick it up before the sensor charges the room.  Next time I know to bring a bag of sand and Indiana Jones the minibar if I want something.

Meghan’s main gripe about “hidden” hotel charges are those seductive bottles of water in the room.  Some are free.  Some cost a lot of money.  Some are complimentary with hotel elite status.  And they’re all nearly IDENTICAL.  If you’re not diligent, you’ll break the seal on the wrong bottle of water, and you’ll pay dearly.

If an item in the room is sitting on a platform that has a wire coming out the back, you can bet it’s a sensor

2.   Checking Out Is Courteous

I believe this to be true simply because it makes sense.  If you don’t check out, housekeeping won’t know your room is all clear to prepare for the next guest.

I almost never stay in my room until checkout.  And I almost always want to check-in early.  If the guest before me checks out when he leaves, I probably have a better shot at an early check-in.

This angle persuades me to actually check out.  It’s just considerate to the hotel and fellow travelers.

Any reasons to check out that I’m overlooking?  Let me know in the comments, and tell me if you take the time to check out.  It just seems largely unnecessary.

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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 it’s an airport hotel, think twice before checking out. I was recently in Lima at the Wyndham in the airport parking lot. Didn’t check out. Printed boarding pass at airport for a flight to US said 1 hr delay. Next thing I know, mechanical problems and the whole flight was re-booked. Even after waiting in long lines at the airport, I *still* had time to return to my hotel room for a completely unexpected 2 hour nap. That nap was heavenly… and wouldn’t have been possible if I had checked out assuming my flight was more or less ok.

Whoa, this is actually a great point I’ve never thought of, thank you for sharing!

The perks of an airport hotel indeed 🙂

In 20+ years of travel I have found checking out and reviewing the hotel bill to be the most efficient way of preventing and resolving disputes in the moment. At a hotel in Anaheim several years ago my restaurant tab had a $100 tip added by a creative waiter. I went to check out and found a long line at the front desk. Seemed that everyone who ate in the restaurant that night and charged it to their room had $100 added to their bill. Would have taken great effort and time to resolve with the hotel via email or through my CC company.

Oof, wow. Thanks for sharing that story.

You’re right, it’s definitely easier dealing with it in person. I feel like over email, they’d have the option to just ignore it or accidentally delete it. Much harder to ignore you if you’re there in person.

This was published 18 days ago…. Are we really recycling content that fast?

We always check out of a hotel to allow housekeeping to clean the room for the next guest. It just seems to be the right thing to do.

I tend to have some OCD tendencies sometimes, so checking out of a hotel often helps me mentally move on to the next stage of my trip.

Maybe I’m weird like that?

I was at the same hotel Wyndham Hotel in Lima as the previous reader pointed out and forgot to check out so when I was ready to board the plane I called the front desk and told them about it and they did it right away and proceeded to send me an email with the final with no surprises. They did thank me for calling them to check out.

Oh gosh, this is something I could totally see myself doing.

I have OCD tendencies sometimes and if I don’t check out of a hotel, I could see myself needing to call the hotel to officially checkout before hopping on the plane.

Several times I have checked out in person and the hotel has taken care of some charges I rightfully owed. I do have status and a frequent guest which I am sure helps. A big smile and nice attitude goes get you some special treatment

Excellent point! I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s a person on the other end too, and that they have a job to do (just like everyone else) and it has its challenges (just like with every other job). It’s great when a customer shows their appreciation and I don’t think it happens often enough.

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