The hidden costs of staying in a hotel in the United States

It's worth doing your research and reading the fine print before booking.


It’s worth doing your research and reading the fine print before booking.

“Your card has been declined, sir. We need $750 to secure the room.

Getting hot and sweaty at the thought of spending my first night in a foreign city curled up on a park bench, I apprehensively transferred another NZ$700 from my mortgage account and swiped my debit card through the terminal. of payment.

It was the wee hours of the morning, after 20 hours of air travel, and I was too distracted to make sure I had all the right paperwork to clear immigration to even consider bringing a credit card for the trip. Even less calculate the figure from one currency to another.

Thanks to the falling New Zealand dollar, the US$750 temporary deposit rose to over NZ$1,300 just to hold the place and cover incidental purchases. This time, I could count myself very lucky to have funds available in my bank account for contingencies like this. I just needed to get the money back to pay the bills back home.

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This isn’t the first time I’ve had to part with hundreds of dollars for pre-authorization when staying at a hotel, but that particular number seems excessive. Temporary deposits vary between accommodation providers and can range from $50 to $300 on top of room rates – which you’ve probably already paid. Didn’t realize the charges could go up each night you’re at the hotel.

Hotels add the fee to deter guests from leaving without paying incidentals. It also helps them detect illegitimate credit cards. But even if I had raided the minibar, signed up for a spa treatment, spent every night at the hotel bar, and left with property-fresh cotton sheets in my luggage, it surely still wouldn’t ring a bell. not altogether.

The lesson is that if you plan to use a debit card on vacation, it’s wise to make sure you have enough money to cover not only room rates and taxes, but also any hidden costs like resort fees and incidental purchases such as room and laundry services, minibar use and damages that may occur during your stay. You can also prepare and ask the hotel for additional charges before your arrival.

The receptionist assured me that once I left the room, the funds would reappear in my account after four working days. But it could take up to ten years to be released from limbo. The duration of release is in the hands of the card issuer.

If your trip is extended, hotel-hopping, it could pile up like an expensive vacation, dipping into travel expenses you might otherwise need at the time for meals, souvenirs and travel activities.

To prevent money from changing hands with a temporary deposit, remember that debit card transactions are immediately taken from your account, while credit card transactions are temporarily put on hold and removed from your account. once you have paid. Another easy solution is to use cash to cover the full amount. A receipt will be given to you and refunded in full minus any costs at the end of your stay.

Hotels in the United States also have a habit of adding sales tax, which varies from state to state, to the base rate, so you should be prepared to pay more than the advertised price. And then there are destination fees for properties in popular tourist locations and daily resort fees to cover amenities like pools, wi-fi and lounge chairs.

Be sure to do your research and read the fine print before booking.

Have you tripped while vacationing in the United States? Share your stories in the comments.

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