With so many hotel bookings being made online, check-out time should be a breeze. You negotiated the rate ahead of time, but hidden hotel fees and extra charges are surprises that no one enjoys. From boycotting the minibar to parking smart, here’s what you need to know to save more than $100 during your next hotel stay.
1. Location, Location, Location
Be mindful of the area surrounding your hotel during booking. If you’re saving $40 a night, but are on the outskirts of your central location, you might not be saving after all. Consider all the expenses associated with that location. Add transportation charges from cabs to trains to the price tag. Suddenly, that perfectly placed property might not seem so pricey after all.
2. Bargain like you mean it.
Give your hotel a call before checking in. Sometimes you can work a little magic over the phone, even if it’s just for free parking. Deals that you tend to see online, such as snagging a third night free or complimentary breakfast, are often negotiable over the phone. Make sure you ask about corporate discounts and always carry business cards or company letterhead. You might be eligible for a reduction through your workplace. Don’t forget to ask if they discount for AARP and AAA members, but make sure to ask for the lowest rate and THEN apply the discount.
Buying your own snacks or alcohol will save you immensely. The same soda that you can purchase for $1.50 at any gas station or grocery store will run you $4-5 in the minibar. For the money you spend on a small bag of M&Ms, you could almost buy a 5lb bag. The problem with the minibar is that it feeds the impulsive. Most victims give in at odd hours of the night, or running out the door. For this reason, don’t just buy your own snacks, but do it right away. Creating your own minibar on day one is a foolproof method.
4. Don’t Pick up the Phone
This one isn’t so much of an issue anymore, but unless it’s to call within the hotel, leave the in room phone on the hook. Call from your cell phone, and if you’re out of the country, take advantage of Skype or similar apps. It’s hard to know what exactly you’ll be charged for phone calls from their phone, and this way you’ll avoid surprise charges at check out.
Many hotels only offer accommodation at a price that includes breakfast, but be careful if it’s a choice. Adding a breakfast option can cost up to $25 a night, and you can almost always buy your on breakfast and coffee for less than that.
6. Plan ahead for Parking
Hotels charge on average between $25 and $75 a day for parking, and if you’re in a populated area you can likely do better. Do your homework before you leave, there might be an underground option, or street parking right around the corner.
7. Do Your Drinking Elsewhere
Grabbing a drink at the hotel bar at the end of the day, can be relaxing and costly. Just walking outside the hotel doors, opens up a world of savings and often more generous happy hour deals. Most often a cocktail will be a fraction of the cost of the hotel bar.
8. Take those Toiletries!
Everyday, hotels budget for you to take or use all of the toiletries left in the room. So, if you like them, bring out your inner klepto and you can save yourself from buying extras for future travels with less amenities.
8. Forgot it? Ask for it.
What isn’t offered in the room may still be available free of charge at the front desk. You’d be surprised at what your hotel will provide free of charge, but unadvertised. Asking can score you items you’d usually go out and buy like toothbrushes, international adapters and even beach bags,
9. Earn Some Points
A big-budget trip, like taking the whole family on spring break, may be a good time to sign up for a hotel credit card or loyalty program. The best choice is to enroll with a chain or umbrella brand that you know you’ll stay at often, or with many property options. Like other retail programs, signing up can earn you special treatment and a good rate. At the very least you’ll start earning towards your next stay.
For ways to avoid hidden hotel fees, check out these reports:
- Peter’s CBS This Morning report, FTC Cracks down on Hidden Hotel Fees
- Peter’s travel tip, increased 2012 hotel fees
- Our Holiday Travel How-To series video on 5 Steps to Affordable Accommodations
- Peter’s Travel Detective Blog with his Vote for Travel Change & Thoughts on Resort Fees
By Courtney Crockett for PeterGreenberg.com