How to avoid hidden hotel fees

January 20, 2012 5:31:21 PM PST
Are you fed up with fees? First the airlines made headlines by charging for things that used to be free. Then it was the banks. And now get ready: we've found hotels are cashing in on this fee frenzy.

Frequent traveler Karon Gibson says she is fed up with hotel fees.

"I don't think it's fair sometimes because you're already paying pretty high fees for hotel rooms," she said.

She's been hit with fees to use the safe in her hotel room, resort fees -- even if she didn't use the gym or pool, fees to receive a fax, and most outrageously, she says, a daily parking fee when she didn't have a car.

Gibson said, "I was pretty upset about that."

A new study estimates hotels are expected to collect a record high $1.8 billion from extra fees and surcharges this year. That's up $100 million in a year.

Ian Ford, Undercover Tourist, said, "I find people are extremely mad about the situation."

Travel expert Ian Ford says there are fees for everything. A bellman may charge $8 even if you carry your own luggage. There's a $3.90 energy charge for using the air conditioning and a $3.50 fee per 'coffee capsule' you drink in your room. If you want to use luxurious sheets, at some hotels, there are fees that range from $25 to $100.

Joe McInerney with the American Hotel and Lodging Association explained, "They're passing on a cost whatever it is, sometimes it's a little more expensive than the actual cost, but they have to cover some of their other overhead."

Experts say if you want to avoid fees, call the hotel when you make your reservation and ask what they charge extra for or check the hotel's website. Some hotel loyalty programs give members breaks on the fees. And if you don't like a fee, before you check in try negotiating and tell the hotel you're going to stay elsewhere if it won't budge.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association says fees are increasing because the hotel industry now has more properties and more rooms available than ever before. Also, hotels sometimes have to pay a third party to run the gym, operate the pool, provide Internet access or other services.