Not long ago, hotel prices were largely all-inclusive. Aside from obvious extra expenses, like pay-per-view movies, raiding the mini-bar, or ordering room service, travelers knew exactly how much their stay would cost. Now, you might be surprised by any number of hidden hotel fees during check-in or check-out.
What are Hidden Hotel Fees?
Hidden hotel fees can include any charge that is automatically added to the price of your stay. Although, not clearly displayed during booking. They are costs on top of the room rate and are often unavoidable.
By charging separate fees for each service and incidentals, hotels can advertise just the room rates. These rates entice travelers into booking. Then, once the person goes to pay for the room, either online, during check-in, or at check-out, they discover that the low rate is only part of the cost.
In some cases, hidden fees can increase the rate of the room significantly. If a traveler is unaware of the additional cost and doesn’t have to pay until check-in, they could be stunned. Further, the additional costs could make the room unaffordable, leaving them stuck without a place to stay.
Certain additional fees are notoriously expensive. Others may be small. When you add several of them together, they can significantly increase the total cost of the room. Here are a few hidden hotel fees that travelers could encounter.
Potentially the most notorious hidden hotel fee, resort fees are usually mandatory. In some cases, they may even double the price of the room — a fact that can leave travelers reeling.
Resorts fees are especially common in certain major vacation destinations, like Las Vegas and Hawaii. Often, the charge gives the guest access to onsite facilities, like the pool and fitness center. However, even if a traveler doesn’t intend to use those facilities, they still have to pay.
To many, the idea of having to pay an additional fee for housekeeping is absurd. After all, hotels have to clean their rooms, at least between guests, so the fact that the service may not be part of the base cost seems odd.
However, some hotels are introducing these costs as additional fees instead of including them in the room rate. At times, you may even see signs in your room stating that you, as the guest, are “expected” to tip your housekeeper. This is a method that allows the hotel to save money on employee wages, asserting that part of that cost is your responsibility.
Parking Lot Fees
While most travelers aren’t surprised if there is an additional charge for valet parking, encountering a hidden fee to use an unattended parking lot may come as a surprise. On occasion, this unexpected cost is exposed when you drive up to the lot, see a drop-down barrier, have to take a ticket to gain access, and then learn of the hourly or daily rate.
In other cases, you might discover this hidden hotel fee at check-in. Hotels often ask guests for details about their cars to track which vehicles belong to those staying at the hotel. However, once they learn you are parking in their unattended lot, they may slap on the usage fee. Unless there is somewhere else you can park nearby, you’re usually stuck forking over the cash.
Early Check-In Fees
An early check-in fee may or may not surprise you, depending on how your arrival plays out. For example, if you were aware that you would need to check in early and arranged for early check-in in advance, you might know that it will cost you extra.
However, if you merely happen to arrive before your official check-in time and optimistically approach the counter to see if your room happens to be ready, the hotel may tack on this fee even though no additional effort on their part was necessary.
Certain hotels, such as those in popular vacation destinations, even tack on the cost automatically. Then, if you check-in after the standard time, you have to request the removal of the fee. If you don’t notice this hidden hotel fee, then you end up paying it, even if you didn’t check in early.
Another surprising additional cost that may appear on your bill is a safe fee. This covers the cost of having access to the safe in your room, even though it is always there and you may not use it.
Usually, safe fees are incredibly small, so many travelers don’t notice the increase in your bill. However, if you do spot a safe fee, you can attempt to contest it. While it is hard to prove that you didn’t use the safe, it’s typically worth a try.
Safe fees are also smart to ask about in advance, especially if you are on a tight budget. In some cases, it will be as little as a dollar or two, but it can potentially be much higher.
In today’s digital world, the fact that many hotels still charge for Wi-Fi seems out of line. However, many locations still do, and this can be a surprise extra cost if you aren’t aware of the hotel’s policies.
In many cases, you can find out if Wi-Fi is included before your arrival. Many hotels openly advertise if they have free Wi-Fi. At times, the notorious resort fee covers the cost, though this isn’t a guarantee.
If the hotel does charge for Wi-Fi, it may run up to $20 a day. Additionally, you may be able to only connect a set number of devices, often ranging between two and five, without having to pay more.
Coffee fees usually catch travelers off guard. Some hotels attach a fee to providing a coffeemaker, even if it always remains in the room. Others will only assess an additional fee if you ask for a coffeemaker, storing them near the check-in desk to make sure you pay up.
Even if access to the coffee pot is complimentary, some hotels now charge for the coffee they provide. Sometimes, they use the mini-bar approach by putting the coffee in your room and then calculate how much you owe according to what you used.
Plus, depending on the kind of coffeemaker they provide, you might not be able to bring in your own coffee to avoid the fees. Usually, you aren’t going to find standard drip coffeemakers or Keurigs in these situations, as it’s pretty easy to buy that coffee on your own to use the coffeepot. Instead, they will use a non-standard pod design, making it harder to avoid paying.
Phone Call Fees
While encountering long distance calling fees at a hotel usually doesn’t catch travelers by surprise, some locations also charge for local calls. Typically, you have to pay by the minute, so you won’t even know how much it adds to your bill until you check out.
Credit Card Holds and Incidental Fees
While these charges aren’t always permanent, credit card holds and charges for incidentals added to your card can throw your vacation budget off. Hotels often add security deposits to protect the hotel if you cause damage, refunding the money only after check out, a process that can take days.
Some locations also charge a fee for incidentals upfront. This covers your possible use of the mini-bar and certain other services, lowering the chance that you’ll try to skip out without paying. If you don’t incur those costs, the incidentals upfront fee may also be refunded but, as mentioned above, it can take days to get your money back.
How to Avoid Hidden Hotel Fees
In many cases, hidden hotel fees aren’t entirely avoidable. However, each hotel or chain has their own policies regarding these costs. By shopping around, you may be able to find hotels with fewer fees, making your stay more affordable.
Have you ever encountered hidden hotel fees? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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