Updated: Sep 28
Many hotels charge for amenities and fees that quickly add up making the cost of a room quickly go from affordable to down-right highway robbery.
There can be ridiculous fees added to your hotel room such as a $25 charge for using in-room wifi, or $15 for storing your own beer in the mini-fridge and of course the dreaded "resort fee" that it seems every hotel under the sun is adding once you check out and later see your bill.
Even hotels in the middle of Nebraska without a pool or even a gym are adding resort fees because you used a towel or glanced at the water fountain in the lobby.
In this travel article we will address the most common added hotel fees and show you how to avoid them and how to dispute hotel fees if you do get charged. We'll also touch on the current legal issues surrounding these fees and what your Country and State lawmakers are doing about them.
The 10 most common hotel fees that you can avoid:
1. Early Check-In Fees
2. Late Check-Out Fees
3. Cancellation Fees
4. Room Safe Hotel Fees
5. Fees to Hold Your Baggage at the Front Desk
6. Automatic Gratuities and Tips for ALL employees
7. Resort Fees
8. Gym Membership Fees
9. Coffee Machine & Iron Use Fee
10. Breakfast Hotel Fees
Want to Avoid Hotel & Resort Fees? Follow These Tips:
Tip #1 Read Everything
Many hotel guests book a room on their credit card and think nothing of it and are surprised to find a list of additional fees added to their statement after ward. When booking a hotel read everything on the web site, the hotel web site and on ads and promotions. Depending on state and federal laws they may be required to list them at the time of booking.
With that said, many hotels don't follow the law when it comes to adding fees and this is why many State Law Officials are now suing large hotel chains. Even with these law suits against them, they are ignoring the law.
Many web sites don't follow laws because they are not located in the country where the laws are made and enforced, causing more concern.
Your best bet against ridiculous hotel fees is to do a lot of research. To help you out please check out our bog post here:
Tip #2 Pay Using a Credit Card
Credit card companies like Visa, Mastercard and American Express follow the law and this is a helpful when dealing with a hotel that just charged you $140 to use a swimming pool.
In many countries and in many US States, there is a law called Failure to Disclose. This is basically contract law where if a hotel fails to inform you of a fee upfront when making a purchase they have failed to disclose it and therefore you are not subject to paying that fee.
If you find a fee added to your hotel room bill that was not previously on any documents or advertisements at the time of purchase, contact your credit card company and explain the situation that the hotel failed to disclose this fee. The credit card company will require time and information to investigate, but if they have indeed failed to disclose a hidden hotel room fee, the credit card company will not pay the hotel and credit you back for any ridiculous fees.
Tip #3 Ask to See Your Bill Before You Check Out
Many of us rush out of hotels to catch a cab and make it to the airport on time but it is important to see your bill before you find fees on your credit card statement two months later. If you do find a fee that was not disclosed on your bill, dispute it right then and there at the front desk and document everything. Immediately call your credit card company and let them know. This will expedite the process and you will not have any problems getting these fees removed from your credit card statement.
Tip #4 Negotiate and Sign a Waiver
Many hotels charge for amenities and extras and they make a lot of money charging for items that people rarely, if every use. Before you book, or even at check in, ask for a fee waiver, for those that will not use. Hotels do not advertise this option, for obvious reasons, and so you may have to ask and explain to the front desk staff exactly what you want.
Tip #5 Use Hotel Booking Sites
Some hotel booking sites such as Hotels.com and Booking.com have excellent customer service that can help you out when you find ridiculous fees added to your bill. When booking you will have full documentation online and sent to you via email. Y
You will note that both of these hotel booking sites list fees, warn you of fees and display resort fees. They may be buried within copy or not displayed on the page in a proper manner, so make sure you see exactly what you are paying for. If the hotel did not disclose of any fees on their web presence on these sites, they will not be entitled to charge you more.
And once again, while using these sites you are using a credit card, which as we stated above, is on your side.
At one particular hotel in Palm Springs I was charged $40 a night to use a swimming pool. It was not disclosed that this was an added fee. And to top it off, the swimming pool was not operational as it was under construction. The hotel in response, after complaining at the hotel desk lobby dropped the fee and gave us "free wifi" as compensation.
It was 110F in Palm Springs and they did not mention their pool was shut down, so I took my concern to the booking site which credited me $100 toward another room stay. Remember, these booking sites are fair and on your side - the consumer.
Tip #6 Avoid Hotel Fees Altogether
One way of avoiding ridiculous hotel fees is to avoid hotels altogether and book on sites like Vrbo who rent out houses, condos, beach resorts, cabins and much more. They offer a an easy to use booking site and once you place your desired accommodation, number of guests and dates you prefer all you need to do is click "details" to see the total amount with everything listed. If you don't like any of the additional fees, click off and find another place that is not adding ridiculous fees. Many houses, cabins and condos do not have any further fees.
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Marriott and Hilton Sued Over Resort Fees
The attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and Nebraska filed separate but similar lawsuits this summer against two big hotel chains, accusing them of deceiving travellers by failing to include the resort fees in their published room rates, making it hard for consumers to compare rates when booking online. The suits allege that the hotels’ “deceptive and misleading” pricing practices violate consumer protection laws.
The suits, brought against the Marriott and Hilton chains, follow an investigation of hotel industry pricing practices by the attorneys general in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to the attorneys general in Washington, D.C., and Nebraska.
Travelers searching for lodging, whether on hotel websites or on separate travel websites, typically are not made aware of the resort fees until after they have clicked past the initial search results page and have started booking, according to a complaint filed in July against Marriott International by the attorney general in Washington.
The practice — known as drip pricing, because the full price is revealed piecemeal — makes it difficult for consumers to quickly determine the true cost of a room and compare it with other options, the suit says.
Consumer advocates, who have been fighting the fees for years, applauded the legal action and said they hoped it would help spur industry wide changes. The hotel industry collected nearly $3 billion in resort and other fees and surcharges in 2018, according to Consumer Reports.
In 2012 and 2013, the Federal Trade Commission warned more than two dozen hotels and travel booking websites that their pricing practices around resort fees may violate consumer protection laws by misrepresenting the true price of hotel rooms.
And even though these lawsuits are going ahead, remember you best bet is to protect yourself and use the tips described above.