Some hotels charge for everything – from using the Internet to using the parking lot. Those fees add up quickly. Here's how to avoid them.
The average price of a hotel stay is expected to jump 4 percent this summer, according to the consulting firm STR. Soon, you might spend an average of $106.64 to spend a night in a hotel.
But there are ways to beat that price. In 8 Tips to Save on Any Hotel – Even the Nation’s Trendiest, we give you tips for getting a cheaper rate – like booking early or simply asking for a better deal. But even with a better rate, hotels have found another way to get your money: fees.
Some hotels are tacking on mandatory fees for everything from an in-room safe to daily paper delivery to an “energy fee.” In the video below, Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson describes a long list of hotel fees – and how to beat them. Check it out and then read on for more tips…
Stacy gave you an idea of just how ridiculous these fees get. Let’s review his solutions and add some others..
1. Stay in a mom-and-pop hotel
The simplest way to avoid the extra fees is to stay in a smaller, privately owned hotel that doesn’t charge them. Many small hotels and resorts compete with the big chains by not charging for local calls, umbrellas, towels, or anything else. So consider mom-and-pop places when you travel.
Unfortunately, there’s no meta-website that lets you search all small hotels around the country. Your best bet is to search the official visitor information site for your destination. So, for example, if you’re heading to DisneyWorld, check out Visit Central Florida, which lists hotels both big and small.
2. Ask for a list before you check in
Many hotels don’t list their fees as prominently as their rates. For example, the Hilton New Orleans Riverside lists its fees for self-parking and valet parking at the bottom of its Hotel Policies page, which begins:
Here you can find details of our Hotel Policies on items such as Check-In/Check-Out times, Cancellations, Payment, and much more. For additional details, please contact the hotel and speak to one of our helpful Team Members.
Expedia and Hotels.com list a few fees for their partner hotels – like a non-mandatory Internet charge and a rollaway bed fee – but suggest calling to learn about additional fees. It’s a pain to do that, but the alternative is that a great deal online might not be one when you arrive.
3. Request a waiver for mandatory services
During check-in, ask to see a list of fees. Then ask to speak to a manager. Ask the manager to waive any mandatory fees you won’t use. For example, if the hotel charges a fee for the hotel gym, but you know you won’t work out while you’re staying there, ask the manager to waive it. You shouldn’t have to pay for something you won’t use.
4. Find cheaper alternatives
If you usually use an optional service provided by the hotel, do some research ahead of time to find a cheaper nearby alternative before you check in. For example, hotels charge an average of $13.95 a day to use their WiFi, according to HotelChatter. Spend $2 on a cup of coffee and you can surf the Internet free at many coffee shops.
WiFi isn’t the only way to save. You can save by picking up your own morning newspaper, finding a late-night diner for after-hours meals, or washing your own clothes at a local laundromat. If you have a smartphone, use a free app like Yelp to help you find local businesses.
5. Check before you tip
“Gratuity included.” Those two little words cost me a ton of money on vacations simply because I forget to check before I tip and end up doing so twice. Before you tip anyone at a hotel, ask if the tip is already included. For example, I used to leave a tip for the housekeeper when I left the room – until I found out that many hotels include a housekeeping gratuity fee on the bill.
6. Bring your own
Some hotels will nickel-and-dime you for everything you use during your stay – way beyond the bag of mixed nuts in the minibar. For example, you might get charged for beach towels or gym towels. Save the cost and bring your own stuff from home. Pack a beach towel in your suitcase. Pick up some snacks and bottled drinks from a grocery store near your hotel. And if you’re going to use something in the hotel, ask what it will cost before you do.
7. Dispute before you pay
Give yourself plenty of time during check-out. Go through your entire bill and dispute anything you don’t agree with. Did the manager say he’d waive a charge? Make sure it didn’t show up on your bill anyway. Are you getting charged for the minibar when you didn’t use it? Some have a sensor that will automatically add a charge if you took something out but decided not to use it.
Ask the front desk to remove any extra charges you don’t think you deserve. If they won’t, get a manager.