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Posted: 2:02 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015

Beware of These Hotel Fees

By Clark Howard

Hotels are coming up with more and more gotcha fees for unsuspecting travelers. I want to outline some of the most common ones I've avoided in recent weeks on the road.

The hotel industry is desperate with how soft revenue has been so they're looking for any way to spring a gotcha on you. (Of course, it was the airlines that taught everybody else in the travel business how to fee customers to death!)

Watch out for these hotel fees

I have seen an unusual array of junk fees in my time. Here are some of the more memorable ones:

  • A $2/daily mandatory fee for receiving the morning newspaper unless you elect otherwise upon check-in.
  • A $1.50/night safe fee that you were automatically charged upon check-in. Upon checkout, you had to say that you didn't use the room safe to get your money back.
  • A $5.50/night mini-bar charge.
  • A resort fee for local telephone calls!

These charges are all about nickel and diming you in the hope that you won't notice.

When it comes to the mini-bar charge, I stay in hotels typically 100 nights a year. How many times have I ever consumed any item from any mini-bar ever? Zero times. So I called the hotel to try to get a credit. I was transferred to the accounting department and didn't get a call back, so I called my credit card company and put the $5.50 in chargeback dispute.

But my all time favorite that I've seen is an early checkout penalty of $100 or $150 if you book for three nights and only stay for two, or whatever it is.

Beware of all kinds of games and gimmicks. I know the temptation is to "zombie out" after a long day of travel when you finally get to the hotel lobby. But I want you to pay attention to that form you're signing that contains the hidden fees. Be prepared and protect your wallet!

Meanwhile, when it comes to saving money on hotel booking, there's a service called that will book a hotel room for you and then continually re-shop your rate. If a better deal pops up on your same room, they'll automatically re-book you at the new lower rate.