How you can Avoid Hidden Hotel Fees

So you got an awesome deal on your hotel stay, or so you thought. You might be forced to think again when you discover all of the hidden hotel fees added to your bill when you check out. According to a recent article in Business Insider, hotels are now bringing in $2.25 Billion in surcharges alone. This is over double what they were bringing in in 2000.

Hotel Mini Bar
At some hotels you can even get dinged a restocking fee for just rearranging something inside your hotel room mini bar cc licensed photo by Simon Clancy

Ever since the last recession we have seen a trend towards surcharges in the airline industry. You know the routine by now – first there were the fuel surcharges, then the extra suitcase fee, soon followed the fee for any suitcase, and now sometimes even a carry on bag fee, not to mention all the other extras once you are on board – headsets, food, beverages etc.

Well, just like the airlines, the hotel industry has also been looking at anything they can do to coax a few extra greenbacks out of your wallet when you are checking out. Keep in mind that not all hotels are doing this and that different hotels within the same chain or brand are not necessarily consistent in what they charge extra for making this whole business of extra charges all the more confusing.

Here is a list of some various services that may give you a surprise at checkout time and some steps you can take to avoid them.

  • Early Check in or Late Check out: Some hotels will charge you an extra fee for one or both of these. If you think you might need either, be sure to check and it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask the hotel to waive the fee up front, sometimes that’s all it takes.
  • Water and Snack Foods: Just because you find them sitting in your room tempting you, doesn’t mean they are a gift. Stock up at the local corner store or grocery store with your own snacks and beverages at a fraction of the price.
  • MiniBar: Many MiniBars now have sensors that detect if you even remove an item for a short time. Even if you put it back you may be charged at checkout. Also placing your own beverages in the Mini Bar to keep cool may result in a hefty surcharge. We suggest you just avoid the MiniBar all together.
  • Gratuities: Some hotels will add a gratuity AKA service fee or service charge to your bill to provide a tip for housekeeping staff and bellhops. If you’ve been tipping them directly you could be double tipping, so make sure you know the hotels policy on this.
  • Airport Shuttles: Many hotels provide free shuttle service to and from the airport, but in some cases this services is no longer being provided free of charge. Make sure you know if the service is free and if it isn’t you may want to compare the cost to alternative forms of transportation including public transit.
  • Parking: Valet Parking is mandatory at some hotels and can easily set you back $20 and up per day plus tips. Know before you go.
  • WiFi: Many hotels have free internet now, but there are also many that charge. In some cases they charge by device, so you could find yourself paying double or more when not travelling alone. Perhaps it would be worth looking for a free wi-fi spot at a nearby coffee shop if your hotel is charging excessively for WiFi.
  • Telephone: Always take a close look at the list of phone charges, before you pick up that in room phone. Charges can be quite high and may even be levied on local calls.
  • Room Safe: At some hotels you may have a safe in your room. At some properties it may incur and extra charge whether or not you actually use it.
  • Local Taxes and Fees: The hotel doesn’t get this money, but they still have to collect it. Make sure you know how much it will add to your total bill.
  • Other Fees: Some of these include gym fees, extra towels or linens, an energy surcharge, groundskeeping fees, room preference surcharge (ie: not near the elevator) and resort fees. The later is supposed to cover a gamut of hotel services and amenities and may be charged regardless of whether or not you actually used any of those services.

The above list is not necessarily comprehensive, but it gives you a pretty good idea of the types of fees you may get blind-sided by if you are not careful. All hotels are required to clearly disclose their fees in some form or another, but when’s the last time you read all the fine print on your hotel reservation. Don’t feel bad, I don’t read much fine print either, but in this case it could save you a lot of money and that is always a good thing.


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