Hotels, just like airlines, are become masters at charging extra fees that aren’t included in your initial room quote. This is not just annoying – it adds up.
While it’s great news for the industry – Consumer Reports estimates that in 2013, hotels made about $2.1 billion in fees and surcharges, almost double the amount they made in 2000 – it’s likely hurting your wallet.
Here are the four most irksome hotel fees, based on a recent survey by VacationHomeRentals.com:
Parking is by far the most unexpected hotel fee, according to the survey. The fee, ranging from $20 to $30 per day, is usually not advertised. “Hotels assume you won’t have a car,” said Tom Gilmore, CEO of VacationHomeRentals.com.
WiFi is another surprising fee. Most of the time, hotels charge you daily for Internet access in your room. It’s also common for hotels to charge for Wifi per computer, which can quickly add up if you’re traveling as a family and everyone brings their own device.
“It usually expires unless you renew it and the cost usually shows up on your bill at the end of your stay,” said Gilmore. The price for WiFi at luxury hotels such as the Waldorf Astoria in New York City is between $15 and $20 a day.
Resort or hotel fee is one of those vague fees you see on your bill at check out – without really knowing what it covers. While it varies by resort, it can cover anything from the hotel’s business center to the use of newspapers and fitness centers. Because of the wide spectrum of amenities it can cover, the resort fee can range from a few dollars to nearly $50 a night.
Pool or beach towel fees are low, usually only a couple of dollars per towel – but they can add up if you forget them in your room and use a fresh one every day.
Other surprising fees that came up in the survey include early check-in and late arrival, additional guests, minibar drinks and snacks, and room service delivery. Hotel taxes can also be a big surprise when you get your final bill since they differ so much depending on the city and the state you're in.
To minimize these fees, do your research. Ask the hotel whether any of these fees apply. If they do, budget extra funds to cover them or plan ahead and find cheaper options such as street parking, bringing your own beach towels, and finding free WiFi in the town you’re visiting.
Of course, you can always avoid hotels altogether and book a vacation rental, which is becoming more popular. A February survey by TripAdvisor found that 52 percent of 1,000-plus respondents surveyed were planning to rent a vacation property this year, up from 44 percent in 2013.
“Vacation rental is slowly getting more top of mind for Americans,” said Gilmore. “A lot of online sites are making it easier.”
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