Do you have to check out of a hotel? I mean, is it REALLY necessary?

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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. But having never experienced backlash of any kind for skipping the process, it just seems wholly unnecessary, no matter how simple.

The biggest reason to check out of your hotel is to view your bill and contest any errors. 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.

Do you have to check out of a hotel?

The quick answer is no, you don’t have to check out of a hotel. But given the pandemic and new deep cleaning procedures, it’s courteous to make a quick stop by the front desk to check out before you go. Cleaning staff can get a head start on disinfecting surfaces, laundry, and other hotel-specific procedures. 

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

Reasons you’d want to properly check out of a hotel

To check the bill for incorrect charges

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. 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 a meal to my room at the Grand Hyatt in Dallas. I could have written ANY room number and seemingly just slipped away scot-free. (Photo by the author)

MMS writer 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 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 spent ~$80 in the process.

(Photo by the author)

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.

MMS editor 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. (Photo by the author)

As a frequent traveler, you should also keep an eye on your card statement after the trip for any surprise charges after you leave. You could be charged for damages, room service, drinks or other surprising charges that aren’t charged during your stay. 

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.

How to check out of a hotel

Checking out is pretty simple. Most times you can just stop by the front desk to let the concierge know you’re leaving. They’ll review your charges and ask if you’d like a receipt of the final of the bill. 

Some hotels have a mobile app you can use, where it’s easy to review your room charges. You can also call the front desk from your hotel room on your way out or from the car after you’ve left. Just request for the bill to be emailed to you to review.

Bottom line

While it may seem a bit inconvenient (especially if you’re in a rush!), there really aren’t any disadvantages to properly checking out of a hotel. That’s especially true given that most large hotel chains offer the option to check out via their app — which is quick and convenient. You can also simply call the front desk to inform them that you’re checking out, and as that your itemized bill be emailed.

Either way, you’ll avoid lines, but you’ll be able to double-check your bill to make sure there aren’t any erroneous charges. Doing so before you leave could save you the hassle of dealing with it after you return home from your trip.

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. 

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Featured image by stockfour/Shutterstock.

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals.

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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