iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For most hotel guests, checking out is an afterthought. It’s the last thing you have to do before heading home. But knowing what not to do at checkout and properly preparing for it can turn a potentially heated situation into a quick “thank you and goodbye.” Below, we compiled a list of eight things you should avoid doing at hotel checkout.
1. Don’t be late to checkout.
The first rule of checking out? Don’t be late. Just like rental car companies that charge for an extra day when you return the car a few minutes after due time, hotels may tack on an outrageously high price for being just a half-hour late. If you’re rushing back to the hotel and know you won’t make the cutoff time, it never hurts to call ahead and try to negotiate away a potential charge.
2. Don’t forget to double check the room and safe.
In addition to leaving the room on time, make sure you don’t leave anything behind. You may want to check under the bed for that lost sock and the bathroom outlet for your phone charger. If you have an early flight or checkout time, pack up as much as you can the night before so that last-minute rush isn’t too harried. Also, be sure to take out anything you were keeping in the room safe. If you’re staying at a hotel where you need to leave your passport at the front desk, you may want to get it back before checking out, if possible.
3. Don’t forget to tip the housekeepers.
Though easy to forget, it’s always polite to leave some money for the people keeping your room clean. If it helps, write yourself a Post-it note reminder.
4. Don’t ignore the itemized bill.
You may be in a rush to get through checkout, but give the itemized bill a careful look so you understand why the hotel charge is different than the room rate you initially booked. Some hotel executives intentionally advertise low room rates, knowing the property will make up the difference with fees that only appear at checkout. Yes, it’s a smarmy practice, but you should be on the lookout or you might get grifted.
5. Don’t be surprised by hidden charges.
Anyone who has stayed in a hotel in the past 10 or so years has likely been presented with an itemized bill that has an unexpected fee. Many New York hotels located near Times Square are now charging an extra $25 destination fee. Some properties add on a resort fee for amenities — even when you’re not staying the resort. Then, there’s the obnoxious restocking fee for those macadamia nuts you ate when you couldn’t bring yourself to walk a block to find food. Research the fees your hotel charges before you book your stay. The property should clearly spell out the fees they add to the bill, and if it’s not, you can push back on any surprise charges.
6. Don’t freak out.
Spitting venom at the assistant manager standing behind the front desk probably won’t help when dealing with an unexpected line item on the bill. Anyone working at checkout likely knows what fees can and can’t be adjusted. Being empathetic about how difficult it can be to deal with annoyed customers will likely go much further than screaming about the unfair fees. If the Wi-Fi or resort fee wasn’t disclosed beforehand, it’s possible you may be able to get it waived. You can also try to dispute a charge later through your credit card company.
7. Don’t pay with cash or a debit card.
Many hotel guests don’t even realize they’ve been snookered with an unexpected charge until they’re about to throw their itemized receipt into the trash at home. Disputing your bill after paying with cash is a lot harder than working with a credit card company to get a chargeback. If you pay with a debit card, you may not have the protection to challenge a charge. Also, some identity thieves like to target hotel guests. Most credit card companies are set up to detect suspicious behavior, but some debit cards aren’t as well protected.
8. Don’t have the hotel call you a cab.
This advice is only for travelers on a budget. If you want to save a few dollars, plan ahead and check if a ride-sharing service is going to be cheaper than a cab to the airport. If so, call your own ride just before checking out of the hotel.
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