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Hate Resort Fees? A New Bipartisan Bill Aims to Eliminate Them

The Biden administration is cracking down on “junk fees.”

Traveling in the United States is a minefield of hidden costs. Book a flight and you’ll also be asked to pay for seat selection, meals, checked bags, and priority boarding. Rent a car and you’ll be asked to pay for its current parking spot. Book a concert, and you’ll cough up a service fee. Reserve a hotel room and you’ll be charged for Wi-Fi, pool and gym access, and parking.

This is the world of “junk fees” and President Joe Biden is attempting to crack down on it. After his warning about family seating, airlines announced this year that they won’t charge extra to keep families together on the flight. 

Now a new Senate bill is being introduced to tackle “resort fees” or “destination fees.”

The Hotel Fees Transparency Act is a bipartisan bill that will establish federal guidelines for hotel pricing. For guests, it will make it easier to see upfront how much a hotel is charging, all fees included. Right now, when book a hotel room online, the price displayed shows a low nightly room rate, and it’s only when you checkout that you see all the additional charges. The bill will also put in place legislation for the Federal Trade Commission to track down violations, and allow state attorneys to take civil action.

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Senator Amy Klobuchar  (D-Minn.), who is introducing this bill with Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), said, “Too often, Americans making reservations online are being met with hidden fees that make it difficult to compare prices and understand the true cost of an overnight stay.”

Related: Thinking of Booking a Luxury Resort With Points? Read This First

The Fight Against Junk Fees

Resort fees aren’t a new concept. These additional line items in hotel invoices have ruffled feathers since 1997. It started as a fee for properties that genuinely had an array of amenities, but spread like wildfire to hotels that saw this as an opportunity to increase the bottom line. 

Irate customers shared stories of “outrageous charges” on Fodor’s forums way back in 2002, and recent accounts of ridiculous charges (for example for a coffee maker in the room) also exist. 

Guests end up paying $50 per night on average, according to the White House. It’s a profitable move for the hotel industry, which makes $2.9 billion in resort fees, per data from 2018. And these aren’t optional fee–you can’t opt due to unavailability (which occurred frequently during the pandemic) or if you’re simply not going to use the “resort” facilities. 

The Council of Economic Advisers studied New York hotels and found that nearly all charged a resort fee, but for different reasons. There was no pattern to it. People couldn’t opt out or easily compare prices due to the mandatory add-ons. The report said, “Many of the fees include services for amenities that consumers may already reasonably assume to be part of the cost of a hotel room, such as internet access, access to an existing on-site fitness center, use of an in-room safe, and access to filtered water.” 

President Joe Biden has been outspoken about cracking down on junk fees—not only resort fees, but also concert pricing, airline extras, apartment fees, credit card late fees, and early-termination charges for phone or internet services. 

In his State of Union address in February, he said that his administration was working on a Junk Fee Prevention Act that won’t let companies rip people off. “We’ll ban surprise ‘resort fees’ that hotels tack on to your bill. These fees can cost you up to $90 a night at hotels that aren’t even resorts,” Biden said at the time. 

There is no known timeline for the Hotel Transparency Fee Bill, so you’ll still be coughing up for extras or non-extras. But there has been a small win recently. Texas and Marriott have entered a voluntary agreement that the hotel chain will be transparent about its pricing in ads and bookings. The state is now suing Hyatt over hidden charges. In April, Pennsylvania also brought Marriott to task over resort fees. The company was ordered to pay $225,000 and display all fees at all booking steps.

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jacketwatch July 31, 2023

Amen. We were charged $50 per day for a "resort fee" at the Hyatt Regency resort and spa in Waikiki. That is of course crazy! And if you want to park it's another $50 per day. 

Ivor July 28, 2023

Judging by bad grammar I take it English is not your first language. Russian, I presume?....

ritahernandez4459 July 27, 2023

SO pleased that this administration has chosen to do something about these ridiculous and for the most part unnecessary charges.  In this day and time, it seems all business entities have decided to levy fees on just about everything.  I visited Las Vegas two weeks ago and stayed at Caesar's Palace.  There was a special discounted room rate but then my grandaughter was charged $50.00 per night for parking, we paid 6.99 for a cup of coffee.  No microwave, no fridge and although coffee machine available, no coffee supplied other than "gourmet" coffee for sale.  Airline fees are also out of hand, charge for baggage and yet there are those travelers who carry on several bags and pay nothing.  Water is doled out sparingly and the food offered for sale is high for things that are inedible.  Using wheelchair service is out of hand.  The handlers practically fight to see who is going to get to you first, so they can secure a tip.  A recent trip from LAX-SAN and back set me back 50+$. Everyone is now riding the Covid bandwagon and taking advantage of everything.  Hopefully, something will be accomplished with this bill, that will be of benefit to the public community.