Fees and surcharges collected by hotels are expected to reach a
record high of $1.95 billion this year, according to a study by the
New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies.
Yes, that's billion with a "B" -- and the number reflects an
increase in the amounts charged, as well as a 5% increase in the
number of rooms occupied in 2012.
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According to the study, hotel fees and surchages emerged as an
industry practice in 1997 and have increased every year except 2002
and 2009 (when lodging demand declined). Often, you might not even
be aware of the fees hotels charge until after you've booked a room
or received your bill at checkout, says Anne Banas, executive
. You often can avoid extra charges, though, if you know which
amenities hotels typically add a fee for using. Here are ten common
ones -- and advice from Banas on how to keep these fees off your
1. Resort fees.
Resorts often charge extra for the plethora of activities and
services they offer. Banas says that you need to ask when you book
your room what sort of fees are charged. Find out whether you'll
have to pay them if you don't use the services. If the answer is
no, make sure charges don't show up on your bill for services you
didn't use. If they do, ask to have the fees removed.
2. Early check-in fee.
Banas says that some hotels will charge you extra if you check in
before a certain time. If you arrive early, ask whether there is an
early check-in fee. If so, ask if the hotel will store your bags
for free (most will) until you check in later. That way you can
start seeing the sites without lugging around your bags.
3. Additional person fee.
Hotel room rates are based on double occupancy. You usually don't
have to pay extra for kids in the room. But hotels often charge $20
to $50 per additional adult per night, Banas says. To avoid this
fee, you need to be aware of it before you book so that you can
search for another hotel that doesn't charge it.
4. Wi-Fi fee.
A lot of hotels charge $10 to $20 per night for Wi-Fi. Banas says
that one way to get around the charge is to sign up for the hotel's
loyalty program, which should be free. Generally, you'll get
privileges, such as free Wi-Fi, immediately. You're also more
likely to find free Wi-Fi at budget hotels, Banas says.
5. Mini-bar and snack fee.
Most travelers know that the beverages in mini-bars are pricey --
and many avoid them for that reason. You don't have to consume them
to see a charge on your bill, though. Simply moving an item in the
mini-bar can result in a charge because everything in that
refrigerator is on a sensor. If you see a charge for something you
didn't consume, show the hotel clerk that it's still there and
contest the charge. Also watch out for those complimentary-looking
bottles of water or baskets of snacks -- they probably aren't free.
Even if you don't see a price attached to them, ask whether there
is a charge.
6. Parking fee.
Hotels in major cities charge $25 to $35 a day for parking, Banas
says. And some hotels have mandatory valet parking, so you'll have
to pay a tip, too. Before arriving at your hotel, use
to get a street view of the area where you'll be staying and look
for nearby parking garages. Then call to get a price. One way to
avoid parking costs altogether is to look for hotels with free
parking promotions. You often can find such offers listed on a
city's visitors bureau or tourism Web site. Also, you usually can
find free street parking Saturday evening until Monday morning in
most large cities.
7. Gym fee.
Some hotels tack on a gym fee, so make sure you ask for it to be
removed if you didn't use the gym.
8. Housekeeping gratuity.
If you usually leave a tip for the housekeeper, check your bill
first next time. Banas says that some hotels add a 10% housekeeping
gratuity. You don't want to pay twice by leaving a tip in your
9. Spa gratuity.
When you make a reservation at a spa, ask whether a gratuity for
massage services will be added to your bill, Banas says. Don't fall
victim to over-tipping by leaving a little cash for the therapist
if you're already being charged a gratuity.
10. Telephone surcharge.
Don't pick up the phone in your hotel room for any reason other
than to call the front desk, Banas says. Not only do hotels charge
for long-distance calls, but also they often make you pay for local
calls. So use your own phone for all calls.
Avoiding these fees means more work for the consumer, Banas
says, but it can be worth it. However, she says that you shouldn't
let a fee that you can't get removed from your bill worry you too
much if you've gotten a great rate at a good hotel -- especially
one that offers some nice freebies (see SmarterTravel.com's
10 Amazing Free Hotel Amenities
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