Do you really have to check out of a hotel?

Aug 22, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve checked out of a hotel. I usually leave as discreetly and quickly as possible. I’m doubly unlikely to check out if there’s a queue at the front desk. And having never experienced backlash of any kind for skipping the process, it just seems wholly unnecessary, no matter how simple.

New to The Points Guy? Want to learn more about credit card points and miles? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Do you have to check out of a hotel? The quick answer is no — but ruminating on the subject, there are two reasons I can pinpoint for doing it anyway. They’re both legitimate and may actually persuade you to do it more often.

Why should you check out of a hotel?

To check the bill for incorrect charges

I’ve rarely ever found an incorrect charge on my final bill — but I do check it every time. One thing I find moderately concerning is when hotels allow you to charge your meal directly to your room. Anyone can jot the wrong room number on the check (unintentionally or otherwise), and that meal could instantly be added to your room tab.

One of my friends ran into a related issue during a stay at The Gwen in Chicago. When reviewing his bill, he discovered a meal expense that didn’t belong to him. He queried the front desk, and they discovered the charge was from the previous guest that was staying in his room. The hotel had charged the room after my friend checked in, so it was added to his bill.

Other unexpected charges can come from inside the room. During a stay at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner in Washington, DC, I fell victim to minibar sensors.

(Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

Some hotel minibars have weight sensors that are tripped when you lift an item, and your room is automatically charged. It’s a you-touch-it-you-buy-it policy. Not until this hotel stay have I been bamboozled by minibar sensors, but this time they got me. I had rifled through the alcohol, picking up bottles to read the labels, and inadvertently spent ~$80 in the process.

I made sure to check out and receive my final bill so I could explain that I hadn’t actually purchased minibar items. I found that I wasn’t actually charged. The front desk explained that guests have a few seconds to replace an item after picking it up before the sensor charges the room. Next time I know to bring a bag of sand and Indiana Jones the minibar if I want something.

Another “hidden” hotel charge that may not occur to you are those seductive bottles of water in the room. Some are free. Some cost a lot of money. Some are complimentary with hotel elite status. And they all look nearly identical. If you’re not diligent, you’ll break the seal on the wrong bottle of water, and you’ll pay dearly.

If an item in the room is sitting on a platform that has a wire coming out the back, you can bet it’s a sensor. (Photo by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy)

Related: Best hotel elite status of 2021

As a frequent traveler, you should also keep an eye on your card statement after the trip for any surprise charges after you leave. You could be charged for damages, room service, drinks or other surprising expenses that aren’t incurred during your stay.

Checking out is courteous

If you don’t check out, housekeeping won’t know your room is all clear to prepare for the next guest.

I almost never stay in my room until checkout. And I almost always want to check-in early. If the guests before me check out when they leave, I probably have a better shot at an early check-in. This angle persuades me to actually check out. It’s just considerate to the hotel and fellow travelers.

Given the pandemic and new deep cleaning procedures, it’s considerate to properly check out when you leave. Cleaning staff can get a head start on disinfecting surfaces, laundry and other hotel-specific operations.

Related: Hotel amenities amid the pandemic

How to check out of a hotel

Checking out is pretty simple. Most times you can just stop by the front desk to let the receptionist know you’re leaving. They’ll review your charges and ask if you’d like a receipt of the final of the bill.

If you don’t have time for an in-person checkout, some hotels have a mobile app that notifies the hotel with a single tap. You’ll find an easily-reviewable log of your room charges in that same corner of the app. Alternately, you can call the front desk from your hotel room on your way out or from the car after you’ve left and request for the bill to be emailed to you for review.

Bottom line

You do not have to check out of a hotel.

But while it may seem a bit inconvenient — especially if you’re in a rush — it can help you resolve any discrepancies on your bill (face to face is always better) and it can help the hotel prepare your room in a timely manner for the next traveler.

Featured image by Joseph Hostetler/The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.