Here's how business travelers can avoid hidden hotel fees

It's no secret that there are plenty of hidden fees in the travel industry. Whether you're booking a flight, renting a car, or booking accommodation, you can expect to pay a bit extra over the initial price you were given (though some sites now allow you to see the total price upfront). There may even be a hefty holding fee added onto your account that only gets reimbursed after you check out or return the vehicle, provided there aren't any damages.

Saving money while still having a positive experience with your accommodation is obviously a plus when traveling for business. But having to pay unnecessary fees can be frustrating, especially if you're being charged for services you didn't even use. While you may not be able to avoid every fee, here are some fees to watch out for as well as ways business travelers can avoid hotel fees.  

RELATED: Take a look at things you should never do in a hotel room: 

15 things you should never, ever do in a hotel room
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15 things you should never, ever do in a hotel room

Steal the bathrobes

"Guests sometimes take home essential amenities that the hotel provides during their stay, like shampoo, lotion, and other vanity products," says Ryazan Tristram, photographer and travel blogger for "However, people sometimes take home the bathrobes as well, which is a no-no." You could be charged extra or fined for taking pricier items, including linens, artwork, and electronics. Find out what you can take from hotel rooms without getting in trouble.


Break something and lie about it

Accidents happen, but damaging something in your room and keeping it a secret can actually harm staff or future guests. Matthew, founder of, says a guest once cut his foot on a shard of glass. "[Glass is] very hard to spot, even if you know it is there, so although the room was cleaned, there was one piece that the housekeeper missed," he says. "We ended up comping that man's night in the hotel all because the previous guest didn't make the team aware of broken glass in his room."


Cook anything without a proper kitchen area

"We always want to save money when we travel," says Tristram. "Some guests will bring their portable cooking appliances with them during their stay, and this can cause a few problems, primarily if the hotel room doesn't have any kitchenette area." These cooking appliances can set off a hotel's fire alarm system or cause an actual fire, so stick with no-cook meals if you want to save a few bucks on food. Find out 9 ways to travel cheap, according to travel agents.


Leave important jewelry in your suitcase or dresser

Hospitality businesses can't always stop thieves from putting their sticky fingers where they don't belong, so don't leave your precious jewels, wallets, or purses in your room, unless it's in a hotel-provided safe, says a Farmers Insurance Group representative. Your homeowners or renters policy may provide coverage for your belongings while you are traveling, so it's important to report any lost or stolen items as soon as possible. Don't miss these other tips for protecting your belongings in a hotel.


Keep your bathroom door ajar when taking a shower

There's nothing wrong with enjoying a steamy shower at a hotel, but beware what the vapor can do if released into your room. "A hotel's hot showers can cause a lot of steam, and as a result, can trigger the hotel's fire alarm system inside your bedroom if you leave the bathroom door open," says Tristram. Learn 22 tips for making your hotel stay as safe and healthy as possible.


Cover up smoke alarms

Certain hotels still allow smokers to smoke cigarettes inside their rooms. Despite this, some guests insist on smoking in non-smoking rooms. The biggest problem: Guests who do this cover the smoke alarm so they can smoke in bed, risking their safety and that of all other guests, says Bryony Summer, owner and editor of


Forget to inspect the bed

Even the finest hotels and housekeepers can't keep creepy critters from making their way into bedrooms. "I always advise travelers to put their luggage in the bathtub until they inspect the bed for bedbugs," says Mitch Krayton of Krayton Travel. Think hotel beds are dirty? Learn the 11 germiest spots in every hotel room.


Restock the minibar

There's no crime in enjoying a drink from the hotel fridge. After all, that's their purpose. "But if you plan on taking a bottle of whiskey out of there, just accept that you'll still be paying for it," says Sophia Borghese, a consultant for La Galerie Hotel in New Orleans. "Don't try to fake the hotel staff out by replacing the liquor with a half-sipped bottle of Diet Coke. This happens more often than you might think, and those who do it still get charged for taking that $30, two-ounce bottle of spirits."


Boil your undies in the kettle

Funny? Yes. Disturbing? Absolutely. Has it actually happened? You bet. After 12 years of managing, Summer says the worst thing she came across was having guests boil their underwear in kettles, pots, or steamers to "freshen them up." Check out the 13 craziest things people have seen in hotel rooms.


Use the throw pillows

"If you notice the throw pillows on the bed or the couch have no removable sleeves, you can be sure they are never thoroughly cleaned," says Kashlee Kucheran, seasoned traveler and co-owner of "After they get so stained or smelly that they become offensive, the hotel will just replace them. In the meantime, you can bet there have been many faces, bottoms, and other things lounging on those pillows, so steer clear!"


Use the fire sprinkler as a coat hanger

Closets are great for hanging clothes. Fire sprinklers are not. Bob Tupper, author of Drinking In the Culture: Tuppers' Guide to Exploring Great Beers in Europesays he saw people using the safety devices as coat hooks—a silly stunt that could not only set off a hotel's fire alarm but also burst the pipes causing water to flood into rooms. Watch out for these 13 hotel room hazards you didn't know were putting your kids in danger.


Send sensitive information over hotel Wi-Fi

"No one should ever, ever send any sensitive information or conduct any important business over hotel Wi-Fi—at least not without encryption," says Harold Li, vice president of ExpressVPN. "Given how easy it is to hack public Wi-Fi hotspots, you might as well be yelling your passwords and bank details down the hall." Travelers should use encryption to shield their Internet activity when sending important information.


Forget that you recently dyed your hair

As a courtesy to the hotel, you might want to wait until you get home before you change the hue of your 'do. "The ruined towels and bed linens are unrecoverable," says Leslie Mulcahy, co-owner of Rabbit Hill Inn in Vermont. If you have recently dyed your hair, avoid washing your hair—or bring your own towel or disposable sheets to wrap your hair until it dries. On that note, you might want to bring your own hairdryer after hearing the gross reason you should avoid hotel hair dryers.


Walk with heavy feet

Loud music and voices aren't the only things you should keep in check when you're in a hotel room. "In my experience, no matter how luxurious a hotel is, they are still built with materials that don't allow a lot of soundproofing, especially from upstairs guests," says Kucheran. Avoid walking around with weighty steps so you don't become "that annoying guest."


Sneak in your pets

It's tempting to bring your furry friends on trips with you, but don't do it without asking if the hotels you're staying in are pet-friendly. If the answer is "no," don't try to pull a fast one on the staff—animals leave trails of evidence, from hairs to prints to smells, and your cleaning fees will skyrocket if you've broken the rules. Check out these other 21 secrets hotel clerks won't tell you.



Shuttle service and parking fees

Depending on the city and location of the hotel, you may be charged to park in the designated lot. You may also be charged for the shuttle service to the hotel. Fortunately, you can usually find out about these fees ahead of time. 

Consider ride sharing apps like Lyft or Uber or even public transportation, especially if you'll be working during the day and won't be needing a car. If you do need a car for a few hours, services like Turo (think Airbnb but for cars) can help you get a car for a few hours while avoiding the parking fees. If you really need a car but don't want to pay parking fees, check for surrounding areas that may be cheaper or even free.

Checking-in early or checking-out late

Usually arriving early to a hotel means waiting for a room to be cleared and cleaned before you can check in. And checking-out late is not always available. Hotels may charge for both.

However, hotels that have loyalty programs usually allow members of the program to check-in early and check-out late. But these members usually have a higher-tier status. Consider a hotel credit card that comes with status, especially if you frequent one hotel brand often. 

Luggage storage

If you've ever gotten to your hotel early and couldn't check in or had a late flight and didn't want to bring your luggage with you until it was time to head to the airport, you've likely used this service that lets you leave your bags with reception until needed. Unfortunately, this convenient service now comes with a price. While it still may be cheaper than storing your luggage elsewhere, these fees are annoying as a guest.

Interestingly, some hotels have begun offering travelers the ability to leave their luggage for a few hours, regardless of whether or not they will be guests at the hotel. While I've so far only seen this convenient service in the U.K., I imagine other countries will start following suit. Consider asking in advance about any fees.

Cleaning services

Some hotels add extra fees for housekeeping services as well as grounds keeping and maintenance. They may also add a fee for extra towels or other extras requested. Even the coffee and tea usually found in the room may be added to their fees for restocking. 

Check the fine print to learn more about how these fees are broken down. You may also want to double check that gratuities aren't already included. 

Having a safe in your room and other extras

While you may never use this, there may be an extra charge for having an in-room safe. Other items that may come with fees attached include internet access, minibars, and telephone access. Some hotels are even measuring how much energy was used during your stay and charging for that.

What you can do

The best way to know what you'll be charged is to contact the hotel directly. Note that these fees vary according to the hotel. So, even if you are staying at a hotel chain that doesn't normally have many hidden fees, the individual hotel itself may differ. 

The best way to find out is to contact that specific hotel and ask them if any of the fees can be waived. Be sure to write down any information given. Once you are at the hotel, ask about any items you are unsure of. 

You can also use third party sites like Priceline or Google Hotels to get a better breakdown of these fees. You may get a better idea of what to expect. 

At the end of the day, a hotel resort fee can cover a variety of items. Fortunately, federal law requires all fees to be listed, usually in the fine print of your reservation. If you are being charged for something that isn't stated, you can ask for it to be removed. 

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