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Do you really have to check out of a hotel?

Sept. 09, 2022
6 min read
Man at hotel front desk
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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.

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.

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ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY


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 a 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 once 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 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.

TANNER SAUNDERS/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. Up until this hotel stay, I had never 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.

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I made sure to check out and receive my final bill so I could explain that I hadn’t actually purchased minibar items. Thankfully, I found that my card 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 from 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.

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.

TANNER SAUNDERS/ THE POINTS GUY


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 also considerate to properly check out when you leave. Cleaning staff can get a head start on disinfecting surfaces, laundry and other hotel-specific operations.

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 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. Others allow guests to review bills and check out on the in-room TV or iPad.

Alternatively, 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.

Related: Is it acceptable to keep your hotel key? The surprising controversy behind those little plastic cards

ERIC ROSEN/THE POINTS GUY


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 vacant room in a timely manner for the next traveler.

Featured image by GETTY IMAGES
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.

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  • 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
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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.
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  • 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

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  • 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
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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