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I thought paying for access to hotel wifi was a practice that died a decade ago, but alas, there are still places that charge you to connect your devices to the internet. Some hotels also tack on supplemental charges for other amenities, like pools, bicycles, and beachfront yoga, that you may or may not use and that, in the COVID era, may not even be available.

These so-called “resort fees” aren’t that common—only 7 percent of U.S. hotels have them—but they are often mandatory, costly, and charged on top of room rates. If they’re explicit, at least you know what you are supposedly paying for. But that doesn’t mean you have to resign yourself to these fees. Here are a few ways to avoid them.

First, know where resort fees exist

You probably won’t run into resort fees that frequently. However, when you do, they’re often in excess of a too-good-to-be-true room rate. They’re also not limited to what you’d consider a “resort,” as some hotels are charging extra under the guise of “destination fees,” according to The Points Guy.

ResortFeeChecker.com compiles resort fees in popular vacation destinations. Otherwise, pay close attention when you’re booking. If you’re doing so online, read the fine print at each step, as fees may not appear until right before you hit confirm, or they may seem like taxes you’d expect to pay. Some fees may even be listed as per person rather than per room.

If you book over the phone (does anyone do that anymore?), ask explicitly about fees, and get a written copy of your confirmation and total charges if you can.

Note that cleaning fees and service charges are also applied at widely varying rates through platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, so the per-night rental amount may be only a portion of your total bill. These are usually explicitly stated, but there’s probably not much you can do about them (unless they’re for basic amenities) other than pay up.

Book with points or miles if staying at chain hotels

If you like to stay at a specific hotel brand, join the loyalty program. Per The Points Guy, hotel stays paid for with loyalty points often have fees waived. Hyatt and Hilton generally do not apply resort fees to award bookings. Marriott does, however, charge its standard fees.

Co-branded credit cards and cards with general travel rewards are one way to earn points, as are eligible hotel stays and certain other types of spending. If you have elite status within a loyalty program, you also likely have some leverage to get your fees waived.

Choose a different hotel

This sounds obvious, but if you don’t want to pay a resort fee, look for a different hotel, especially one that is independent or unbranded, or book a vacation rental (though, again, there are fees here, too). It may be harder to find a fee-free place to stay in popular resort areas like Las Vegas and Hawaii, but it’s not impossible.

Negotiate with the hotel, especially during COVID

You may not be able to get resort fees waived, but it doesn’t hurt to try. This tactic may be more effective if any of the amenities your fee supposedly covers, like swimming pool access, guest happy hours, or fitness classes aren’t available during your stay. At the very least, make sure you get a complete list of everything your resort fee gets you, and if you have to pay it, take full advantage of every last amenity.

 



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