When you’re planning a trip, lodging can easily be one of the costliest aspects to budget for, especially if you’re opting for a luxury resort and/or you’re planning an extended stay. And when it comes to lodging, there are often other fees you’ll be required to pay, whether when you’re making your reservation or at checkout. These can be additional fees that you’ll be required to pay, for things you may not even or want or use, or they could be rolled into your nightly rate. As such, it’s important to remember that sorting your options by price and picking the lowest rate isn’t always the ideal way to find the best value—sometimes the costlier nightly rate at the nicer hotel could potentially save you money in the end. Because you have to account for the extras you might have to pay for, it’s important to check the fine print and find out if you’ll be charged any of the following hidden fees:
Another fee to be aware of—especially in larger cities—is the cost of parking. If you’ll definitely need to drive to your hotel or you’ll be renting a car, try to find a hotel that includes free parking. Depending on where you’re going, you might not be able to get around this cost. You could always try to find off-site parking that’s cheaper, or you could potentially opt to not have a car, which could be worth considering if it will save you a great deal of money on your trip.
It may not be very common in costlier cities or luxury hotels, but that budget hotel on that tropical island? Better look through the terms and conditions for additional charges for things you wouldn’t expect to be extra. In some countries, it’s not uncommon for guests to be charged for air conditioning use, which can be almost inevitable due to the unbearable heat. In cases where you’ll be charged for air conditioning use and you know you won’t be able to do without, opt for a cheaper room that doesn’t even have AC, but provides a fan. Better yet, you might want to spend the extra cash for a better hotel that won’t impose these additional fees.
You might assume that the small bar of soap and trial size shampoo and conditioner bottles are free, and a lot of the time, they are. But if you find another bag of goodies with extra toiletries, such as razors, toothpaste, etc. you might want to look around for a price list, too. If you aren’t sure, call the lobby and ask before you use any of it. Some hotels will provide these things for guests at no cost, but sometimes will also bill them for using any of it.
Most travelers today don’t have to worry about this extra charge, since the majority of people now have cell phones and don’t bother to use the in-room hotel phone. But whether your cell phone is dead or you’re just trying to conserve minutes, you might not think twice about picking up the phone in your room to make a quick call. Even for a local call, however, you could potentially be charged. While a very brief phone call might not be so bad, a longer phone call can mean a substantial fee upon checkout.
Guests who need to cancel their visit often expect to pay a cancelation fee of some sort. But some guests are surprised to learn how much they need to pay and how far in advance they’ll need to cancel without getting charged for the full stay. Even if you booked a room that’s completely refundable in case you need to cancel, there usually is some cut-off date for a refundable cancelation set in place, and you’ll want to find out what that is. By knowing the hotel’s cancelation terms and policies ahead of time, you won’t be caught off-guard if you won’t be able to make it or your travel plans change. And if you do think there’ll be a chance of needing to cancel your trip, you can opt to find a hotel with a more lenient cancelation policy.
Consumers expect to pay tax on pretty much everything they purchase—hotel room bookings included. But the percentage of tax that is charged for lodging is a much higher percentage than a lot of travelers ever expect to pay, and this is why the listed price you see is usually not the final price you pay. The amount of tax you’ll pay will vary by the city, but can be as much as 20 percent of the nightly rate. Depending on how long you stay, this could add hundreds more to your total hotel bill, and that’s without including any of the other extras mentioned above. As such, it’s important for travelers to always know how much their real total will be, especially if they are on a tight budget. If the room tax isn’t clearly outlined in the booking details, be sure to check the terms and conditions. If it’s still unclear, contact the hotel directly.
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Nothing above is meant to provide financial, tax, or legal advice. You should meet with appropriate professionals for such services.