7 tips to beat hotel fees

Some places charge for everything, including Internet access and parking.

By Stacy Johnson May 30, 2012 1:19PM
This post comes from Angela Colley at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyThe average price of a hotel stay is expected to jump 4% this summer, according to the consulting firm STR. Average rate? $106.64.

 

But there are ways to beat that price, 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 daily newspaper delivery to an "energy fee." In the video below, Stacy Johnson explains how to beat them. Check it out and read on for more tips.

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.


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 Disney World, check out Visit Central Florida, which lists hotels both big and small.


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.
 
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.


Request a waiver for mandatory services. During check-in, 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.


Image: Couple Entering a Hotel Room © Fuse/Getty ImagesFind cheaper alternatives. If you usually use a service provided by the hotel for a fee, do some research ahead of time to find a cheaper nearby alternative. For example, hotels charge an average of $13.95 a day to use their Wi-Fi, according to HotelChatter. Spend $2 on a cup of coffee and you can surf the Internet free at many coffee shops.


Wi-Fi isn't the only way to save. You can pick up your own morning newspaper, find a late-night diner for after-hours meals, or wash your own clothes at a local coin laundry. If you have a smartphone, use a free app like Yelp to help you find local businesses.


Check before you tip. "Gratuity included." That policy has 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 until I found out that many hotels include a housekeeping gratuity fee on the bill.
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. 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.


Dispute before you pay. Give yourself plenty of time during checkout. 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.

 

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:


 

VIDEO ON MSN MONEY

11Comments
May 30, 2012 9:32PM
avatar
When I traveled for business, my company would put me up in hotels. When I travel for pleasure, I stay in MOTELS!!!!  Motel 6, Days Inn, Super 8, Red Roof Inn, Ramada Inn, etc. Most of them have free internet, local phones, towels and the like. Sure you don't get 800 thread count sheets or 50" big screen televisions, but all I look for on a vacation is a clean place to sleep because I spend most of my time AWAY from the hotel/motel.
May 30, 2012 8:21PM
avatar
Watch OUT!! I checked on the Blue Seas Courtyard and Cristie Furth who claims they dont charge extra for anything? Look for yourself,it says "resort fee included in price of room". So yes even those on MSN  in the dont pay extra fees video are STILL charging xtra, just like everyone else. Can someone tell me what a "resort" fee is anyway?  Seems to me they realize almost everyone loves the beach, and if you want to spend the night near it, they are gonna get every dime they can from you.  :)
May 31, 2012 9:43AM
avatar
I work in a hotel and this article is the biggest piece of crap I've ever seen. For one, usually the only hotels that charge you fees are full service. This is your choice to stay at a full service hotel, and you are paying the extra money to get pampered and spoiled. Most select service hotels such as Fairfield Inn, Hampton, Holiday Inn etc.. have everything free from internet to breakfast. People have to understand there is a lot more that goes into operating a hotel than just just a couple employees and cleaning a room. The water, amenities, electricity, food, and linens you use all cost money. Everything is built into the price of a room, so your technically paying for it anyway. When you're paying $100 a night but don't use the pool, technically you're still paying for the water, pump, person to clean it etc. Alothough people also take the "I'm paying for anyway" thing to a whole new level. I had a guest come to me and actually ask for 25 bottles of shampoo. When I asked what for, he replied that "It's built into the price of my room and I can have as much as I want." WRONG. We are prepared to handle reasonable requests for guests, but we are not paying for you to take 25 bottles of shampoo and discard them just because you think it's funny. A guest drank a glass of wine, come to the desk the next morning and said he wanted it off his bill because it tasted old. When I asked why he didn't just ask for a new glass, or ask to have it refunded last night, he responded with "Just take it off my bill, I'm not paying for it." Yes you are... People do this crap all the time, they get an attitude and just complain just to see what kind of compensation they can get out of you and this joke of an article just feeds that fire. When I tell a guest something they don't want to hear after they try and pull a fast one on me, they react one of two ways. They keep getting madder, until I ask them to leave, ot they treat me like a human being and I usually am more willing to help them out. If you treat me like dirt, I am not going to give you the time of day. My number one focus is customer satisfaction, but that doesn't give anyone the right to treat me like I'm a slave just becasue they are paying $100.00 a night...
May 30, 2012 10:23PM
avatar
This is easily the most ridiculous piece I've ever read on this site.  I rarely, if ever, comment or feel obliged to on anything I've read on MSN, however I can't not comment on something written so poorly researched...Fitness room fees?  Ask for a list of fees at checkin (wait. how does that save money?  If it does, how much does a M5 cost cause I've got a fiddy...).  The essence and meat of this article is "get a manager" when upset.  The reality of the hotel is world is that up until recently there have been rates wars amongst all levels of hotels.  Essentially you've got Ritz, St. Regis, etc in urban areas (outside of high demand markets NYC, SF, etc) competing with mid-level brands and it's been driving prices and rates down.  Unfortunately for the consumer, the reality of opaque, third party rates, etc are being phased out as demand is starting to pick up.  This is a fluff piece.  You want to be pampered at the St. Regis, Ritz, Mandarin?  Be prepared for fees.  It's that simple.  You aren't a unique snowflake, the hotel will survive without your $149/night rate, and you need to read your reg card and details of the property when checking in.  If you can't afford it, don't do it.  Also here's a tip that isn't fluff, don't use you're debit card unless you're prepared for that money to be held by your banking institution for a few days.  An even better tip:  BE NICE.  Don't be a whiny baby when you see an internet fee (that you agreed to when you clicked I AGREE on the splash page).  Hotel people are people too and understand how frustrating things fees can get but we're doing a job, but listening to a blogger hack job that's giving you bogus tips will just result in folks digging in their heels.  The only way to "figure it out" or "beat the system" is being genuine and courteous to the folks that you've willingly entrusted to ensure you have a warm and positive night stay.       
May 31, 2012 4:28AM
avatar
The price of gas nowdays, you can't afford to take your camper. Use to be that's why we all bought them. The average price for a Motel now is $100. Mom & Pop Motels are always cheaper. You usually only sleep in the room,so don't need the ritz. Most you can drive up to the door and unload your stuff. The pricey ones,you have to lug your stuff thru the lobby,up stairs etc. The Best deal I've run into after years of traveling,is if you go to the Black Hills and are anywhere near Pine Ridge Res. (North side'). Go to Praire Wind Casino. It's the Best. At $39.95 a night (last time I was there'). You get a luxirious Room.(leather Furn,Marble counter tops,Beautiful art work,and comfy bed.) Their Buffet at $12 is beyond. I had prime Rib one time. The best buffet anywhere. The casino pays great for an Indian Casino. It's Alcohol free,so if you want a nightcap,take your own. Great people, great place to stay. ( I'm not a travel agent' Just a old Lady that's been around')
Jul 2, 2012 8:42PM
avatar
If you stay at a hotel in New Orleans you are prpbably going to get ripped of at the Hotels near the Casino. I was charged $19.00 a night for hotel amminities that we did not use. ie no computer, no swimming, in fact all we did was Sleep and pay the $27.5o for each night for parking in a lot atleast two blocks away. Never Again.....
May 30, 2012 10:23PM
avatar
This is easily the most ridiculous piece I've ever read on this site.  I rarely, if ever, comment or feel obliged to on anything I've read on MSN, however I can't not comment on something written so poorly researched...Fitness room fees?  Ask for a list of fees at checkin (wait. how does that save money?  If it does, how much does a M5 cost cause I've got a fiddy...).  The essence and meat of this article is "get a manager" when upset.  The reality of the hotel is world is that up until recently there have been rates wars amongst all levels of hotels.  Essentially you've got Ritz, St. Regis, etc in urban areas (outside of high demand markets NYC, SF, etc) competing with mid-level brands and it's been driving prices and rates down.  Unfortunately for the consumer, the reality of opaque, third party rates, etc are being phased out as demand is starting to pick up.  This is a fluff piece.  You want to be pampered at the St. Regis, Ritz, Mandarin?  Be prepared for fees.  It's that simple.  You aren't a unique snowflake, the hotel will survive without your $149/night rate, and you need to read your reg card and details of the property when checking in.  If you can't afford it, don't do it.  Also here's a tip that isn't fluff, don't use you're debit card unless you're prepared for that money to be held by your banking institution for a few days.  An even better tip:  BE NICE.  Don't be a whiny baby when you see an internet fee (that you agreed to when you clicked I AGREE on the splash page).  Hotel people are people too and understand how frustrating things fees can get but we're doing a job, but listening to a blogger hack job that's giving you bogus tips will just result in folks digging in their heels.  The only way to "figure it out" or "beat the system" is being genuine and courteous to the folks that you've willingly entrusted to ensure you have a warm and positive night stay.       
Report
Please help us to maintain a healthy and vibrant community by reporting any illegal or inappropriate behavior. If you believe a message violates theCode of Conductplease use this form to notify the moderators. They will investigate your report and take appropriate action. If necessary, they report all illegal activity to the proper authorities.
Categories
100 character limit
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?

DATA PROVIDERS

Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.

Fundamental company data and historical chart data provided by Morningstar Inc. Real-time index quotes and delayed quotes supplied by Morningstar Inc. Quotes delayed by up to 15 minutes, except where indicated otherwise. Fund summary, fund performance and dividend data provided by Morningstar Inc. Analyst recommendations provided by Zacks Investment Research. StockScouter data provided by Verus Analytics. IPO data provided by Hoover's Inc. Index membership data provided by Morningstar Inc.