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4 Helpful Tips to Avoid Paying Hotel Resort Fees

By Bennett Kleinman
Read time: 0 minutes

All too often, travelers encounter unexpected and unwanted costs. These range from airline baggage fees to Wi-Fi fees and — when it comes to staying in hotels — the dreaded resort fee. Many hotels offer a low nightly rate to catch the buyer’s eye, only to add those costly fees at checkout. Resort fees often range between $20 and $50 a night. They are charged to cover the cost of amenities that were once included in the price of a nightly stay, such as Wi-Fi, gym access, and pool usage. In many cases, these fees are mandatory even if you don’t plan to use those amenities, but it’s also possible to avoid paying these fees altogether if you prepare ahead. Here are a few helpful tips on how to avoid paying resort fees.

Shop Around Online

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Photo credit: MStudioImages/ iStock

When shopping for hotels on booking sites such as Expedia or Booking.com, resort fees are not usually reflected in the prices on the initial results page. If a hotel charges these fees, you typically won’t see them until you click through several pages to book. The price will also rise due to local taxes.

These mandatory extra fees, which are often hidden in initial price results, have not only drawn the ire of travelers but have also attracted attention from politicians in recent years. As of 2023, however, at least one major hotel chain is finally making some customer-friendly changes. Marriott is now showing travelers the all-in pricing when booking directly on the hotel chain’s website (thanks to a 2021 settlement).

At the end of the day, remember that not every hotel charges a resort fee — by some estimates, only 6% of hotels in the U.S. levy them. And certain properties may even waive the fee upfront in order to incentivize travelers to choose their location. But it can be difficult to find those more attractive listings, especially if you’re not particularly tech-savvy.  

Fortunately, websites like ResortFeeChecker.com compile a list of which hotels do and don’t charge resort fees. Just enter the name of the city that you’re planning to visit, and the site will compile a list of your options, allowing you to avoid the hotels that are charging these extra fees. Just take the time to do some online research before making your booking.

Book With Hotel Loyalty Points or Credit Card Points

Close-up image of customer paying with credit card
Photo credit: PeopleImages/ iStock

One easy way to save on resort fees is to use the points you’ve earned at your preferred hotel chain. If you’ve accrued enough points for a free night, certain loyalty programs such as Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt will waive the resort fees. That’s not the case for all programs, though, so be sure to comb the checkout page carefully. Earning points also requires signing up for a hotel’s loyalty program and staying at one of their properties enough times to rack up the rewards. Alternatively, you can open up a new credit card such as the Hilton Honors American Express Card and World of Hyatt Credit Card, both of which offer attractive welcome bonuses for new members. 

Other travel rewards credit cards — such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Capital One Venture X — offer travelers points or even statement credits that can be redeemed to help cover the cost of resort fees and their hotel stays in full. Though these cards require an annual fee, it can be a small price to pay for savings on hotel stays. Many credit cards are also transfer partners with major hotel chains, allowing you to instead transfer your credit card rewards points to book an award stay.

Unlike other major hotel resort chains, Hyatt will also waive resort fees for paid stays — as long as you’ve earned top elite status in their loyalty program, which is known as the Globalist tier. While lower tiers such as Discoverist and Explorist offer perks of their own, Globalist members won’t have to worry about resort fees, even on hotel nights that are in high demand. If you end up earning a total of 1 million points with Hyatt, then you’re granted Globalist status for life. This is no easy feat, but those who achieve lifetime Globalist membership will never have to worry about paying resort fees again.

Speak Directly With Hotel Employees

Hotel front desk associate speaking to customer
Photo credit: alvarez/ iStock

Politeness can go a long way in life, and that includes when you arrive for your hotel stay. During check-in, you may want to speak to an employee and request that the hotel fees be waived. There’s no guarantee that they’ll have the power to waive the fees, but you may get lucky in certain cases — especially if you tell them that you don’t plan on using any of the hotel’s amenities. Just be prepared to pay the resort fee if necessary, and hope that you encounter a generous employee along the way.

If All Else Fails, You Can Always Dispute the Charges

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Photo credit: PeopleImages/ iStock

In extreme circumstances, you can always dispute resort fees with the hotel or even your credit card company. In some cases, such as inoperable Wi-Fi or other amenities being unavailable during your stay, you can speak with the front desk at check out to ask if they can waive or reduce the resort fees. 

Sometimes, however, hotels fail to make their resort fees known during the booking process and surprise you at the last moment. If this is the case, compile documentation of your booking and screenshots of the deceptive advertising. Present the evidence to your credit card company, and they may reimburse you. While it’s a drastic measure, you can also file a case with the attorney general or take the hotel to small claims court if you feel you’ve been wronged.

Featured image credit: martin-dm/ iStock

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