12 Ways to Avoid Obnoxious Hotel Fees

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Don't let extra hotel fees ruin your vacation. Find out how to avoid or mitigate them.

Hotels seem to be perfecting the practice of adding extra fees. In fact, fees in the hospitality industry are multiplying like rabbits in the spring. CNN says they include:

  • Early check-in fees
  • Early check-out fees
  • Cancellation fees
  • Fees for using the room safe
  • Fees to hold your baggage behind the front desk
  • Automatic gratuities (tips for staff)

Hotels have become adept at hiding fees, revealing them only in fine print on a website, in the final stages of a transaction or as you check out at the end of a stay. For example, you might find a $25 charge on your bill for using Wi-Fi, or a fee for storing your own yogurt in the minibar fridge.

Randy Greencorn, co-founder of ResortFeeChecker.com, says in an email:

Virtually all online travel agencies and most hotels hide or bury mandatory fees to some degree. In almost all cases, the fee is only disclosed after a consumer sees the basic room rates, decides on a hotel, and begins the booking process.

Sadly, hotel fees may be here to stay. It’s on consumers these days to be vigilant. Here are 12 ways to help you find and avoid or fight hotel fees:

1. Read the fine print

Shocked incredulity may not be an effective defense when you are checking out and discover surprise fees added to your bill. Instead:

  • Find and read the rules found on a hotel’s website, at check-in and in the room.
  • Ask for a list of fees when you check in.
  • When shopping for a hotel, keep a look out for “daily resort charges” and “resort charge” in ads and promotions.
  • “A reputable resort will reveal the fee on your final confirmation,” says USA Today. Cancel, if you don’t like it.

2. Call ahead

CNN says you often can avoid fees by calling ahead and inquiring about packages, many of which include fee waivers for things like Wi-Fi and parking.

3. Look up resort fees

Use ResortFeeChecker.com to find fees charged at the hotels or resorts you are considering.

4. Negotiate a waiver

Isar Meitis, president of Last Minute Travel, tells Kiplinger that some hotels will waive fees if you tell them at check-in that you won’t be using the items — such as Wi-Fi, the gym or the pool — covered by the fees.

5. Steer clear of hotels with fees

The surest way to deal with hotel fees is to avoid hotels that charge them. Choose establishments whose rates reflect all charges upfront:

  • Book a room in an independent hotel or motel — or a bed and breakfast — instead of a chain. Check local Chamber of Commerce or visitor sites for lodging options.
  • Find hotel booking sites that disclose booking fees upfront. Kiplinger likes these two: Stayful and Getaroom.com.

6. Use peer-to-peer home rentals

Skip hotels entirely and instead rent a private home through sites like Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. These typically charge a cleaning deposit and booking fee, but the companies’ websites should display such costs clearly. In addition, incremental fees for use of equipment or amenities are uncommon.

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