This Is a Waste of Money Every Time You Stay at a Hotel

When you stay at a hotel, there are plenty of ways you can go wrong. You might end up overpaying if you aren’t careful when you’re booking. And once you arrive at the hotel, you could end up with a lower-quality room if you made your reservation through a third-party site. You can get on the wrong side of the hotel concierge. Or you can end up going home with bedbugs. Equally unpleasant? Finding out that you wasted some of your hard-earned money on hotel amenities that just aren’t worth it.

Read on to check out the things that you’re probably wasting your money on every time you stay at a hotel.

1. Bottled water

Row of water bottles

Hotels overcharge for water bottles. | Tezzstock/iStock/Getty Images

It’s important to stay hydrated, whether you’re on vacation with your family or getting through a week of meetings with your colleagues. But as Smarter Travel notes, it often ends up costing you if you reach for the bottled water offered by the hotel. Some hotels charge as much as $5 for a single bottle of water. And you should probably be drinking a lot more than a single bottle of water in a day. If you’re driving to your destination, you can throw a pack of water bottles in your car. Or, just pack a reusable water bottle — with a built-in filter or without — and drink tap water instead.

Next: Don’t reach for these drinks or snacks, either. 

2. Minibar items

Minibar bottles in bucket with ice cubes

You’ll pay a premium for a tiny bottle. |

Similarly, it’s tempting to take a look at the minibar if you want a drink or a snack, but don’t feel like leaving your room. Stop! Minibar items are always a waste of money. You’ll pay a premium for a tiny bottle of liquor, and likely won’t have everything you need to make a decent cocktail, anyway. Plus, Skift reports that many hotels charge minibar restocking fees that further drive up your bill once you take an item. If you really want a soda or a candy bar, seek out a vending machine or a convenience store. Don’t pay the ridiculous markup to take one from the minibar!

Next: Use your smartphone instead. 

3. Telephone calls

Closeup of hand holding telephone receiver while dialing

Some hotels charge you just for dialing. | Gajus/iStock/Getty Images

Almost everybody has a smartphone or just a simple cellphone. So think twice before you make any calls with the phone in your hotel room. Smarter Travel reports that you should always find out what the hotel charges for phone calls before you pick up the receiver. Some hotels charge for local and toll-free calls. And in some cases, you may get charged just for dialing, even if your call never connects. When in doubt, use your smartphone instead.

Next: There may be a way around the valet parking fee.

4. Parking

valet holding shopping bags of a client

The service can be a huge addition to your bill. | Fred Dufour/AFP/Getty Images

There’s not much you can do about this one. But it’s a big waste of money anyway. Smarter Travel notes that many hotels in busy city centers now have mandatory valet parking. The service can easily add $25 a day onto your hotel bill — and that doesn’t include the tip you’ll owe the valet each tip they retrieve your car for you. If you’ll need your car often throughout your stay, there’s probably not much you can do. But if you plan on leaving it parked throughout your trip, you may want to park it elsewhere and just take a taxi or an Uber to your hotel.

Next: Enjoying that final morning exploring your destination can get expensive. 

5. Baggage holding fees

An employee from the Ritz luxury hotel loads luggage in a van in Paris

Baggage holding isn’t free anymore. | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

It’s not just airlines that charge you ridiculous fees to take your baggage. Skift notes that some travelers may remember the days when you could check out of your hotel and leave your bags with a bellhop in the hotel lobby, just tipping him when you came back to pick up your bags and head to the airport. But that service isn’t free anymore. Smarter Travel notes that you’ll pay at least a few dollars if you want the hotel to hold your baggage for a few hours before you depart. And that doesn’t include the tip.

Next: Maybe you should download a movie instead of streaming something on Netflix. 

6. Internet access

woman wrapped in a blanket sitting and working on a tablet

Many hotels charge for Wi-Fi. |

Smarter Travel notes that almost all hotels, especially those marketed to business travelers, offer high-speed internet and Wi-Fi. But the costs vary widely. Some hotels offer complimentary access. But others charge per minute or per day. Additionally, some charge for Wi-Fi by device, not by room. So if you and your partner both want to surf the internet, you may need to pay the fee twice. Especially if you’re just traveling domestically, compare the hotel’s Wi-Fi fees to the cost of using a mobile hotspot on your phone. You may be better off skipping the Wi-Fi altogether.

Next: Ask whether this service is still free. 

7. Airport shuttle

road outside LaGuardia Airport

Getting to the airport might not be complimentary. | robertcicchetti/iStock/Getty Images

Hotels used to offer a shuttle to and from the airport for free. But Smarter Travel reports that you should always ask before assuming that the ride will be complimentary. Some hotels are starting to charge for this once-free service. Before you tell them to charge your card, make sure that it wouldn’t be cheaper to just call a taxi or request an Uber instead.

Next: Hungry? Don’t waste your money on this. 

8. Subpar room service

Couple with tray of room service food

You might not be happy with the food. |

Both business and leisure travelers often have long days while they’re away from home. At the end of a tiring day, it’s tempting just to order room service instead of going to a restaurant to get dinner. But subpar room service is definitely a waste of money. There are plenty of things that you should never order from room service, no matter how swanky the hotel. Dishes that need to be served piping hot, seafood meals, and gourmet pizza are just a few of the orders that are typically a waste of money at a hotel.

Next: Look for souvenirs elsewhere. 

9. Generic souvenirs

Close up of a mug

You might just find a generic mug or T-shirt. |

Many hotels sell souvenirs. But they’re usually cheap and generic items that are really a waste of your money. A hat you’ll never wear or a trinket that will just sit on your desk might look fun at the gift shop. But if you want to put your cash to good use, choose a souvenir that’s unique to the place you’re vacationing. Or at least opt for something you’ll actually use, like a coffee mug.

Next: Ask whether these will cost you extra. 

10. Towels at the pool

Boy jumping into the pool

Many hotels charge for towels. | Nadezhda1906/iStock/Getty Images

If you make a habit of taking advantage of the hotel pool, make sure that you aren’t racking up extra charges on your bill. Smarter Travel reports that many hotels charge a dollar or two for you to use an extra towel at the pool, especially if you take that towel back to your room with you. It seems a little ridiculous, sure. But you can avoid the charges by bringing your own towel — or just leaving the hotel’s towels at the pool.

Next: You’ll likely pay for this, even if you don’t use it. 

11. Gym fee

Busy Gym With People Exercising On Machines

You might be charged for the gym, regardless of whether you use it. |

We know what you’re thinking: You don’t use the hotel gym, so you’re definitely not wasting money on admission to it. But you may be wrong. As AOL notes, a charge for use of the hotel’s fitness facilities may get added to your bill, even if your running shoes remain in your suitcase. Either use that as an impetus to put on those shoes and fit in a workout, or ask to have the fee removed from your bill when you check out.

Next: Do you need to stay for a full week?

12. Extra nights

Man sleeping in his bed

Don’t stretch out a trip if you don’t have to. | tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images

This one is a little controversial, since some people really do want their vacation to last as long as possible. But Dave Ramsey reports that sometimes, travelers waste money on a hotel stay that’s just too long. If you’ve ever felt ready to go home at the end of a week-long trip, it might be a better idea to stay four or five days instead of six or seven. You’ll leave just as you’re running out of interesting things to do, and you’ll go home with a smaller hotel bill, too.

Next: Think about rearranging your schedule. 

13. Early check-in or late check-out

Keep to the set schedule. |

Some hotels are actually quite accommodating if you need some extra time in your room. But most of the time, they’ll charge you extra to check in early or check out late. Similarly, Skift notes that many hotels charge early departure fees, even if you originally booked a refundable rate. Make sure that you know what the fees are before you call the front desk. And if there’s any way you can, you should rearrange your schedule so that you don’t have to waste money on these fees.

Next: You can’t get around paying these.

14. Fees

You really can’t avoid these fees. | Zurijeta/iStock/Getty Images

You can’t avoid this one, but we just have to put it out there. Every time you stay at a hotel, you’re wasting your money on an assortment of fees that, if you ask us, the hotel really shouldn’t be charging its customers. As Smarter Travel explains, hotels often charge you a service fee, which goes to the bellhops and the housekeeping staff. Hotels also add an energy surcharge to your bill. They may also charge you a groundskeeping fee. And of course, they also charge taxes and other local fees.

Next: Use it or lose it. 

15. A resort fee for amenities you don’t use

tables and swimming pool on the ocean

Make the most of this fee. | iStock/Getty Images

While you can’t do much to get your money’s worth out of the groundskeeping fee or the energy surcharge, here’s a hotel fee that you can make the most of. Smarter Travel notes that the ubiquitous resort fee runs anywhere from $10 to $60 per day. It can cover a wide array of services and amenities, including the business center, the pool, the gym, daily newspaper delivery, housekeeping, and local calls. You don’t have to use any of those services if you don’t need them. But if you have an idle afternoon, why not take a dip in the pool, or zone out on the treadmill? After all, you’re already paying for it.

Read more: These Are the Biggest Hotels You Can Stay in Across America

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