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My new 'trick' for avoiding pesky resort and destination fees on last-minute stays

June 30, 2021
3 min read
My new 'trick' for avoiding pesky resort and destination fees on last-minute stays
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Few things grind my gears as much as resort fees — and their relatively new in-town equivalent, the "destination fee."

While they're typically disclosed at checkout, these fees give hotels a revenue boost without bumping up the room rate — if you're doing some comparison shopping, you'll likely see the base rate, before taxes and fees.

Related: 5 pitfalls to avoid when booking hotels

As a result, travelers end up paying more than initially advertised for benefits they may not need, like long-distance calls or discounts on scooter rentals or, in the case of Wi-Fi and fitness center access, perks other hotels include for free.

I'll usually avoid staying at a hotel that charges a resort or destination fee, but in the case of my most recent booking, I really didn't want to miss out on a $155 last-minute rate at San Francisco's Hyatt Centric Fisherman's Wharf, so I figured I'd try a different approach.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

After confirming availability via Hyatt's app, I called up the hotel and politely explained that I was planning to make a same-day booking until I noticed the destination fee. I wouldn't be using any of the amenities, so if they were willing to waive the fee, I'd book a two-night stay.

(Screenshot courtesy of Hyatt)

The agent agreed to make a "one-time exception." She instructed me to book my stay and said she'd remove the fee from my account. Sure enough, at check-in, another agent confirmed that the roughly $35 daily "destination fee" wouldn't apply on this stay.

Related: How to avoid resort fees

Still, she was friendly as can be and handed me a card outlining the destination fee perks, saying I was free to take advantage even though I wouldn't be paying this time around. Score!

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(Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

There was one challenge left to overcome: avoiding the hotel's $62 parking fee. I ended up driving around for a few minutes and found a lot for $25 per night just up the street — combined with the resort fee, I saved more than $70 each night with just a bit of extra effort, enough to cover two fantastic dinners in San Francisco.

Bottom line

Is this "trick" guaranteed to help you avoid a resort or destination fee every time? No, I'm sure some properties won't be willing to budge, but in this case, it was a win-win, giving the hotel some extra revenue it would have otherwise missed out on while saving me a bundle on my stay.

If you're looking for a bit more of a sure thing, I'd book an award with Hilton or Hyatt (they don't charge resort fees on award stays), or simply avoid hotels and resorts that work in sneaky fees. I feel much better about giving my business to properties that don't try to trick consumers into paying extra fees.

Featured image by (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.