Add-on and surprise fees are a common practice by businesses to raise revenue. In addition to the hotel industry, you commonly see it in the airline industry (baggage fees) and banking industry (overdraft protection), for example.

Since most customers typically compare hotel options using the initial price quote, it comes as a surprise when a large daily mandatory resort fee shows up later.

You can take some actions to minimize a nasty surprise and more accurately compare costs between hotels. Let’s look at some options that will allow you to determine the total cost of your stay so that you can accurately determine which hotel is the better overall deal.

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This online tool can be a great help in uncovering these surprise fees quickly!

You will save a lot of time and effort by identifying these fees up front rather than wasting your time getting all the way to the end of the online booking process only to find out the additional resort fees in the fine print are too much to swallow.

The way it works is that you look up the hotel in the website and it gives you the typical daily resort or amenity fees, if applicable.  It’s possible it may not catch every fee, but it gives you great insight. It will also clearly tell you if the hotel you are considering does not charge these fees at all!

You can also search a destination city on the site to quickly see which hotels charge fees and which ones do not. That makes it a quick way to compare options.

A best practice is to use ResortFeeChecker as a tool, but always validate with the hotel to be sure. Ultimately, it’s not the mandatory fees that matter, but rather the total cost of your stay versus other options. The key is to not be surprised. If you know up front what the total price of one hotel is vs another you can make an informed decision.

Typical Surprise Fees

The pricing game that many hotels play is that you get your hotel room for the room rate, and then pay extra charges for things such as internet access, fitness center, swimming pool and the daily newspaper. Others might charge a room cleaning fee per stay.

These are typically mandatory charges that you pay, regardless of whether you actually use those services or not. These fees are often bundled so that it is likely you may have used one of them. These extra fees are really a way for the hotel to advertise a lower room rate.  What matters, of course, is the total cost of your stay per day.

When booking directly with the hotel on the phone they are required to disclose such fees in advance. The hotel websites are  required to disclose them as well. Online booking sites such as Priceline or Expedia are also required to disclose these fees. However, they are often buried in the mice type at the bottom of the page. These can sometimes be combined in a category called “taxes and fees.”

Areas Known for High Resort Fees

Las Vegas has always been known as an area with low advertised room rates but with high add on hotel resort fees. This has also become more common in other resort areas such as Florida and Arizona. In recent years this has also become more prevalent throughout the United States as well.

These fees can range from a few dollars per day to the higher resort fees that can exceed $50 per day.

Play the Points Game

One way to avoid a resort charge is to pay for your room stay in full using rewards points from hotel loyalty programs or bonus points from your credit card company.

Quite often your award stays do not include resort fees. You should verify in each instance. In fact, if your room is free but you get an amenity charge, you should question that and see if the fee can be removed. In most cases a free room stay using hotel points will be free of the daily resort fee too.

Be Your Own Advocate

The reason hotels are so successful in charging the additional fees is because most people quietly accept and pay them.

As the saying goes, “if you don’t ask you don’t get.”

Be your own advocate! If the pool was closed you shouldn’t have to pay a pool amenity fee. If you don’t have a car you shouldn’t pay a car parking fee. Make your case to the hotel manager. Be polite but persistent. They have waived fees for others and can for you too if you make your case. The worst they can say is “no.” 

Even better, get some examples of competing hotels in the area that don’t charge these fees. Often the hotel chain will give the manager some latitude to make adjustments to a hotel bill as needed to accommodate the customer.

​Legal actions

Due to the number of hotel companies that charge extra resort fees, and the number of customer complaints, the FTC and some state attorneys have gotten involved. 

The Federal Trade Commission requires that hotels disclose all fees to their hotel guests when making hotel reservations. In other words, they are not allowed to have hidden fees.

Unfortunately, they don’t need to make them obvious. They can disclose the fees in small type with other disclosures that you may miss if you are not looking for them.

It is unlikely there will be a change in the law as long as the hotels are abiding with these disclosure requirements.

​Summary: Avoid Hidden Resort Fees with

  • Resort or Amenity Fees are used by Hotels to increase revenue and to advertise lower basic room rates vs the competition
  • Your challenge is to figure out what these fees are so you can compare the total cost of different hotels
  • Use ResortFeeChecker as a tool to help find out which hotels charge these guest amenity fees
  • The fees are often mandatory per day regardless of whether you use the services or not
  • It’s common for the fees to include amenities such as internet access, fitness center, and the swimming pool 
  • Las Vegas, Florida and Arizona have been known to have these fees. Lots of hotels throughout the country have added these fees since then
  • Play the points game to often get the amenity fees waived
  • Be your own advocate and request that the deceptive resort fees be removed if you didn’t use the services. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
  • The FTC requires that the fees be disclosed in advance. Be on the lookout. Contact the hotel if necessary to confirm fees.

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