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What Are Incidentals Hotel? 3 Best Tips To Avoid Them

While hoteling, you may have come across a charge on your receipt named incidentals hotel. What is this? Most infrequent travelers or people who are not familiar with hotels are surprised when they see an additional fee taken from them.

If you are not aware of this charge, don’t worry! Read this informative guide to learn all about incidental in hotels in detail. Let’s get started!

What Are Incidentals Hotel?

Read also: Hotel Hold On a Credit Card: 6 Important Things to Know

What Are Incidentals At a Hotel?

The additional or supplementary costs in the hotel are referred to as “incidental charges.” Let’s discover the details:

  • The hotel will often place a hold of some funds on your credit card when you check-in. This is because the hotel takes these funds as security for any damages or extra expenses you may rack up.
  • The bulk of your hotel payment will be the room rate multiplied by the number of nights you stay, plus any applicable taxes. The rest of the payment will be the incidentals. They are often charged according to the room key that you were given.

However, there is a lot more that needs to be discussed regarding the extra charges. Continue reading to learn about all the types of incidental charges, how they are processed, and tips on avoiding them. Let’s head towards the details!

Why Do Hotels Impose Incidental Charges?

Hotel incidental charges are typically imposed to cover overhead costs and provide extra services to their guests. Most hotels across the world include incidental charges in their advertised rates.

Why Do Hotels Impose Incidental Charges

These costs are more or less common in different hotels based on the hotel’s location:

  • Things such as star ratings, and luxury hotels like Marriott, where the prices of amenities and security deposits will be larger.
  • On the other hand, hotels like your local bed & breakfast will understandably have a smaller charge. Other factors include hotels in different parts of the world with levels of facilities and services.

Types of Incidental Charges and How Are They Calculated?

Guests may be subject to a variety of incidental charges throughout their stay. Such things may include:

  • Room service: The cost of having food or drinks brought to your accommodation.
Room service
  • Room damage: All damage doneto hotel property.
  • Missing stuff from the room: This fine is for when guests take objects that belong to the hotel from their room when checking out.
  • Smoking fines: Smoking in the hotel is forbidden and may have a fee of $50 or more.
  • Minibar: Fees are assessed for using the minibar to get consumables like drinks and snacks.
  • Spa: Costs associated with visiting spas, making treatment appointments, or utilizing fitness centers.
  • Parking: The use of the hotel’s parking garage will incur a cost.
  • Wi-Fi: Costs associated with using the hotel’s in-room or public Wi-Fi connection.
  • Phone calls: Hotel room long-distance phone calls are charged and are included in the incidental price.
Phone calls

Guests can use this information to better prepare for their stay financially. To help you further, I’ll be taking a look at some real-life scenarios of how incidental charges rack up:




Business traveler

Room service, Wi-Fi, Parking fees


Single tourist

Minibar, room service, spa treatments

$100 - $200

Family Holiday

Spa treatment, kids club activities, minibar, Wi-Fi, laundry service, smoking fine

$250 - $300

Method of Processing Incidental Charges

The length of time it takes to process your payment will depend on the hotel, the method of payment you use, and even the location of the hotel.

Methods of Processing Incidental Charges

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  • Credit cards: It’s easiest to pay using a credit card because hotels can put a hold on your credit line on your card rather than actually charge it. It means they authorize a certain amount of money to cover potential charges you may incur during the stay.
  • Debit cards: Holds work differently on debit cards, therefore using them might be tricky. The amount of money is deducted from your account and is not usable by you. You can only use it when the money is refunded.
  • Cash: Cash payments are accepted as well for hotel stays. The hotel will keep your cash in an envelope and issue you a receipt if you pay with cash when you check-in.

Are Hotel Incidentals Refunded?

Yes, the incidental charges are refundable as long as the amount of the extra services you use at a hotel, such as room service, is less than the incidental fee you were charged.

Are Hotel Incidentals Refunded

How long it takes to refund depends on your payment method. For a better understanding, check out the section below:

  • Cash: Paying with cash means that the hotel will hold onto that amount until you check out. They will deduct whatever costs you racked up during your stay and return the remainder to you.
  • Debit card: It may take up to ten days while you wait for the reimbursement for the money to show in your bank account.
  • Credit Card: When you pay with credit cards at a hotel, they can put a temporary lock on the amount of needed funds instead of taking your money right away. If you don’t use any extra services or damage anything, they can easily remove the lock without charging and refunding your card.

3 Handy Tips for Anticipating Unexpected Fees

It can be a big shock if you suddenly see big additional fees on your hotel room receipt. To help you avoid that, here are some tips on how to better anticipate these charges.

1. Having Prior Knowledge

Here’s what you have to do so you can attain some prior knowledge regarding unexpected fees:

Anticipating Unexpected Fees
  • It is recommended that guests familiarise themselves with the hotel’s regulations regarding incidental charges prior to their arrival.
  • Many hotels list their various taxes and surcharges on their own websites. To avoid any surprises during your stay, please read this section carefully and make note of any fees that may be incurred.
  • If you want to know more about the hotel’s policies on incidental charges, you can always give them a call.
  • Consider the hotel’s incidental costs while budgeting for a vacation and making reservations.

2. Ask the Hotel Staff

Feel free to inquire about any extra fees while booking a reservation or checking in. Those at the front desk will be better equipped to address your unique questions and concerns.

Anticipating Unexpected Fees

Among the most crucial inquiries to make are:

  • Is there a fee to use the hotel’s facilities such as the gym, spa, and pool?
  • Do you have to pay to park here? What is the cost if so?
  • Do you charge for using your Wi-Fi network?
  • Do you charge extra for amenities like room service?

If you ask these questions, you’ll know exactly what to expect in terms of fees, and you’ll be able to budget more effectively. It’s preferable to know about any fees that may be applied before completing your purchase.

3. Plan Ahead

Once you know what kinds of extra fees can pop up during your trip, you can account for them in your spending plan.

Anticipating Unexpected Fees
  • You should also choose which hotel features and services are most essential to you before making a reservation, such as free Wi-Fi or complimentary breakfast.
  • Using a credit card with travel perks is another option for budgeting for the unexpected costs that may arise during your trip.
  • You can find a lot of great options from banks such as Chase, Citi, and American Express that will cover all of these expenses and more.

Tips on Avoiding An Incidentals Hotel Charge

Many guests are unprepared for the hotel incidental charges, which can add up to a hefty bill at the conclusion of their stay. These costs may, however, be controlled and kept to a minimum by following certain simple strategies.

Some proven methods include the following:

1. Bargaining

It might be helpful to bargain with the hotel for a lower rate or the elimination of extra fees when making a reservation.

Avoiding An Incidentals Hotel Charge

You may try haggling for perks like:

  • Free Wi-Fi;
  • Parking;
  • Breakfast, etc.

It is recommended to contact the hotel directly and discuss any unique requests or needs. A positive outcome is typically the result of a dialogue with the hotel employees.

2. Loyalty Rewards

Joining a hotel’s loyalty program has several perks, including helping you save money on incidentals if you stay there regularly. Members of loyalty programs, such as the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program or the World of Hyatt program by Hyatt hotels, frequently receive benefits.

Avoiding An Incidentals Hotel Charge

These can be:

  • Complimentary upgrades;
  • Free night stays;
  • Extended check-out times;
  • Charge waivers for some services.

3. Making Use of Money-Saving Platforms

We live in a modern era where you can book reservations online by using different websites or apps before checking into a hotel. The online platforms offer discounts and coupons to skip incidental charges.

Two such sites are Agoda and Trivago, which offer some of the lowest rates and biggest discounts available.


What do hotels hold for incidentals?

Hotels hold incidentals in the form of payment you paid in while checking in. If you paid with a card, they will deduct an extra fee from it. If you pay with cash, they will ask you to pay a fee that they will keep in an envelope.

Do you get hotel incidentals back?

Yes, you can get hotel incidentals back as long as the amount of the extra services you use at a hotel is less than the incidental fee you were charged.

What do incidentals cover?

Incidentals cover all other costs incurred by the guest beyond the basic hotel rate and applicable taxes. These include room service, phone calls, parking, movies, etc.

How do I not pay incidental fees?

You can not pay incidental fees by politely negotiating with the hotel crew and asking them to waive some of the cost of extra services. You can also take advantage of hotel loyalty rewards that can give you unique benefits.


The final say is that hotel Incidental charges are extra fees that visitors pay for extra amenities including parking fees, Wi-Fi access, and more. Moreover, the incidental charge safeguards the hotel against any potential room damage or additional charges.

To keep your travel costs in check, you should be aware of the extra fees that hotels often tack on. It is recommended to know about hotel policy before you check-in. Also, make use of loyalty reward points or helpful booking apps like Agoda or Trivago to save your hard-earned money.

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What Are Incidentals Hotel