What is a Hotel Incidental Fee and How to Avoid It?

If you’re a frequent traveler, you may have encountered an incidental fee at a hotel before.

This fee is often a surprise charge that can add up quickly and catch you off guard.

In this article, we’ll explain what a hotel incidental fee is, why hotels charge it, and how you can avoid it.

You’ll also learn some tips for negotiating with hotels and understanding your rights as a guest.

What is a Hotel Incidental Fee?

If you have ever stayed in a hotel, you may have noticed a line item on your bill called “incidental fee.” This fee is a common practice in the hospitality industry and can catch many travelers by surprise.

Definition of hotel incidental fee

An incidental fee, also known as a “hold,” is a temporary charge that a hotel places on a guest’s credit or debit card to cover any additional charges that may occur during their stay. These charges may include room service, phone calls, mini-bar purchases, or damage to the room.

The hotel will typically hold a certain amount of money on your card each day of your stay, and if you do not incur any additional charges, the hold will be released at checkout. However, if you do use any of the hotel’s services or cause damage to the room, the hold will be used to cover those charges.

Examples of incidental charges

Incidental charges can vary from hotel to hotel, but some common examples include:

  • Room service
  • Mini-bar purchases
  • Phone calls
  • Parking fees
  • Internet access
  • Spa treatments
  • Damage to the room or hotel property

Difference between incidental fee and resort fee

It’s important to note that an incidental fee is different from a resort fee, which is a mandatory charge that some hotels add to your bill for access to amenities such as the pool, gym, or beach. Resort fees are typically disclosed at the time of booking, whereas incidental fees may not be mentioned until checkout.

If you want to avoid incidental fees, you can try to minimize your use of the hotel’s services and amenities during your stay. You can also ask the hotel to waive the fee, but this is not always possible. It’s always a good idea to read the fine print before booking a hotel room to avoid any surprises on your bill.

Why Do Hotels Charge Incidental Fees?

If you have ever stayed in a hotel, you may have noticed that a certain amount of money is held from your credit card at check-in. This amount is known as a hotel incidental fee, and it is charged to cover any additional expenses that you might incur during your stay.

Covering potential expenses

The primary reason that hotels charge incidental fees is to protect themselves from any potential losses. For example, if you accidentally damage hotel property or consume items from the minibar, the hotel will use the incidental fee to cover the cost of those expenses. This fee also covers any additional amenities or services that you may use during your stay, such as room service, Wi-Fi, or parking.

Protecting hotel property

Hotels are in the business of providing a comfortable and safe environment for their guests. They invest a lot of money into maintaining their properties, and incidental fees help to protect their investment. If a guest causes damage to the room or any other hotel property, the incidental fee can be used to offset the cost of repairs or replacement.

Ensuring guests are accountable

Another reason why hotels charge incidental fees is to ensure that guests are accountable for their actions. By requiring a deposit upfront, the hotel is sending a message that they expect their guests to behave responsibly during their stay. This also gives the hotel some leverage if a guest causes damage or refuses to pay for additional charges at check-out.

If you want to avoid paying incidental fees, make sure to read the hotel’s policies before booking your stay. Some hotels may waive the fee if you are a member of their loyalty program or if you agree to certain terms and conditions. You can also avoid incidental fees by being mindful of your actions during your stay and avoiding any unnecessary expenses.

How to Avoid Hotel Incidental Fees

If you have ever stayed in a hotel, you may have encountered incidental fees, which are daily charges that cover the cost of additional services or amenities beyond the room charge. These fees can add up quickly and surprise you at checkout, but they can be avoided with a few simple strategies.

Read the fine print

Before you book your hotel reservation, it is crucial to read the fine print and understand the hotel’s incidental fees policy. Most hotels disclose this information on their website or during the booking process, but it is often overlooked. Knowing the hotel’s policy will help you avoid any surprises and plan accordingly.

Use a credit card instead of a debit card

Using a credit card instead of a debit card can help you avoid incidental fees. When you use a debit card, the hotel may place a hold on your account for incidentals, which can tie up your funds and result in overdraft fees. With a credit card, the hotel will place a hold, but it won’t affect your available credit limit. Additionally, some credit cards offer travel rewards or cashback for hotel stays, which can save you money in the long run.

Ask to have the fee waived

If you don’t plan on using any of the hotel’s additional services or amenities, you can ask to have the incidental fee waived. Some hotels may be willing to waive the fee if you explain your situation or if you are a loyal customer. It never hurts to ask, and the worst they can say is no.

Negotiate during check-in

If you didn’t have a chance to ask for the fee to be waived before arrival, you can try negotiating during the check-in process. You can explain that you won’t be using any of the additional services or amenities and ask if the hotel can waive the fee or reduce it. Again, it never hurts to ask, and you may be surprised by the result.

Opt out of certain services

Lastly, you can avoid incidental fees by opting out of certain services or amenities. For example, if the hotel offers a minibar in the room, you can ask to have it emptied or removed to avoid any charges. You can also decline daily housekeeping services, which can result in a credit or discount to your bill.

What are Your Rights as a Hotel Guest?

As a hotel guest, you have certain rights and protections that are designed to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable stay. However, it is important to understand that hotels also have policies and procedures that you must adhere to during your stay. In this article, we will discuss your rights as a hotel guest and how to avoid incidental fees.

Understanding hotel policies

Before you book a hotel room, it is important to read the hotel’s policies and procedures. This includes their cancellation policy, check-in and check-out times, and any additional fees that may be charged during your stay. One common fee that hotels often charge is the incidental fee, which is a fee that is charged to cover any additional expenses that may be incurred during your stay.

If you are unsure about any of the hotel’s policies or procedures, be sure to ask the front desk or the hotel manager for clarification. It is better to be informed upfront than to be surprised with unexpected fees or charges.

Speaking to the hotel manager

If you are unhappy with your stay or have any concerns about the hotel’s policies or procedures, it is best to speak with the hotel manager. They are typically the highest-ranking employee on duty and are responsible for ensuring that guests are satisfied with their stay.

Be sure to explain your concerns clearly and calmly, and give the hotel manager an opportunity to address your concerns. They may be able to offer you a solution or a compromise that will make your stay more comfortable.

Contacting customer service

If you are unable to resolve your issues with the hotel manager, you can contact the hotel’s customer service department. Most hotels have a toll-free number or email address that you can use to contact their customer service team.

Be sure to explain your concerns clearly and provide any relevant details, such as the date of your stay and your room number. The customer service team will investigate your concerns and work with you to find a resolution.

Disputing the charge with your credit card company

If you were charged an incidental fee that you believe was unjustified or incorrect, you may be able to dispute the charge with your credit card company. Most credit card companies have a dispute resolution process that allows you to challenge charges that you believe were unauthorized or incorrect.

Be sure to provide any relevant documentation, such as your hotel receipt and any correspondence with the hotel’s customer service team. Your credit card company will investigate your dispute and may be able to reverse the charge if they find in your favor.


In conclusion, a hotel incidental fee is an extra charge that hotels may add to your bill for potential expenses during your stay.

By understanding why hotels charge these fees and how to avoid them, you can save yourself some money and have a more enjoyable stay.

Remember to always read the fine print, ask questions, and negotiate with the hotel if necessary.

And if you do end up with an incidental fee, don’t be afraid to assert your rights and dispute the charge if necessary.

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