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COVID-19 surcharges are here, and may spread to travel

May 23, 2020
3 min read
COVID-19 surcharges are here, and may spread to travel
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The cost of doing business is going up in a COVID-19 world thanks to everything from additional PPE required to a meat shortage raising food prices.

The most notable example so far is a Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Lounge in southern Missouri that added a COVID-19 surcharge to a receipt, which was promptly shared on Twitter:

Dentist offices are adding $10 surcharges to visits and hair salons have started adding a $3 sanitation charge. While its reasonable to expect the cost of business to go up, the practice of nickel-and-diming American consumers has never been a popular method with the public to raise prices. Much like resort fees, consumers would much rather see the entire cost of a good or service up front so they can make an informed decision about whether they are willing to pay.

Earlier this week, Gary Leff reported a third-party moderator in the Hyatt internal 'influencers' community asked for feedback on Hyatt instituting a COVID-19 surcharge on hotel stays. Hyatt has since said the moderator was not instructed to ask about that and "does not need a forum to confirm now is not the right time to institute new fees like this." Notice the statement doesn't say Hyatt won't do it, but now is not the right time to do it.

The conversation about COVID-19 surcharges has likely already occurred at every major hotel and airline. My fear is we'd have another 9/11 fee: the $5.60 which is added to every one-way flight you book that is never going to go away and is simply passed on to consumers by the airlines.

While airlines are legally forced to show the entire price of a ticket up front, hotels are not and would likely not include any COVID-19 surcharges in advertised room rates.

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Give all-in pricing

Airlines and hotels that need to raise prices because of what is required to garner supplies, clean or keep customers safe should simply increase their upfront prices:

  • Consumers are used to dynamic pricing in the travel industry and won't recognize slight price increases to airfare or hotel rates.
  • Consumers deserve the prices advertised to be fair, transparent and all-inclusive so they can make accurate comparisons between providers.
  • Hotels and airlines need consumers to trust them and an additional fee won't increase that trust, nor will bad press about the worst COVID-19 surcharge offenders that will undoubtedly come.
  • Opaquely increasing prices when your biggest problem right now is demand won't stimulate more customers.
  • Requiring a COVID-19 surcharge suggests sanitation and keeping customers safe is only included in a product if I'm willing to pay an additional, not-advertised fee.
  • There are already multiple attorneys general investigating hotels for deceptive prices by charging resort fees and the momentum to pass legislation to outlaw these is ramping up year after year. Do hotels really want to fight additional legal challenges right now?

Bottom line

One hotel will be the first to think adding an additional fee and not including it in the advertised room rate is a good idea. Every hotel chain will watch to see how that is received, which is why consumers need to swiftly and loudly reject the idea and continue to demand fair and upfront pricing inclusive of an entire good or service. I'm empathetic to businesses with increased costs and am willing to pay a higher upfront, inclusive price.

Featured image by Getty Images/iStockphoto

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023