Traveling soon? New junk fees are hitting hotel guests.


Who’s the most transparent? Travel experts offer their findings.

Bank customers aren't the only ones getting hit with junk fees. The weather is breaking across the U.S. and travel is picking up. So are new junk fees from hotels trying to wring one last dollar out of your stay.

And we might be stuck here for a while. The proposed Junk Fees Prevention Act is still trying to make it through Congress, and the only state where it’s illegal to advertise a price that does not include all mandatory fees or charges other than taxes and government-imposed fees is California.

Without a legal barrier to keep things transparent, some hoteliers and online booking sites aren’t likely to pass up the opportunity of making a few dollars here and there off of junk fees. And some have gotten so crafty that some of these fees aren’t easily detected by consumers.

And they like it that way. Hotels will argue that these fees are clearly outlined if consumers check the fine print of their booking, or that their competitors utilize similar fee structures, so remaining competitive requires comparable pricing.

Here are the ones that ConsumerAffairs has found that you should look for when you make your reservation or check in or out of your hotel.

'Curation Fee'

Curation can make an experience special, but the service has moved from unique to just a way to tag what amenities show up in your hotel room.

Travel industry watcher Skift reports that Made Hotel in New York City charges a $30 per night "curation fee" for things such as coffee, Wi-Fi, and a glass of house wine. This fee is disclosed during the booking process but unless a hotel specifically asks each guest what kind of coffee and wine they drink, you might want to watch for things like this and whether or not you consider it a "junk fee."

'Destination Fees'

“Destination Fees” are today’s version of “Resort Fees” – plain and simple. It’s just a catch-all for breakfasts, parking, etc., but isn’t driven by any local government statutes that require you to pay it like, say, a “hotel tax” or “state/local taxes” might. 

Many times, there are perks or services bundled within those “Destination Fees” that you would never use, so calling up and asking for a discount/reduction for not using those things might work in your favor.

Ancillary fees

You also need to be on the alert for any creative hoteliers who think they can turn anything on their property into a fee-based service. For example, you might run into a “security charge.”

If you get to the property early, ask if there's a charge for an early check-in. The day before you check-out, ask what check-out time is now and if there’s a fee for a late check-out. Ask about parking, even basic amenities like storing luggage. 

Be careful when booking a room online, too

Recently, Frommers analyzed online hotel booking sites in an attempt to find sites that are transparent when it comes to fees. Here’s what its researchers found: “Displays and sorts by total cost, not just pre-tax rates”

Trivago: “Ignores taxes and fees; not particularly transparent”

Skyscanner: “acknowledges when taxes and fees aren’t included”

Momondo: “We love that Momondo lets you include taxes and fees in your results (even though you must select that function in the filters) and, admirably, it also includes cleaning fees and such even when it serves rates from third-party sites that hide those numbers in the fine print on its own pages,” Frommers said.

Agoda: “Omits taxes and fees until the last moment”

Kayak: “Offers option to include taxes and fees” “doesn’t calculate taxes and fees for North American properties until the final booking page”

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