Hidden hotel and resort fees can bump up the total cost for your stay fast.

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If you’re planning to travel soon, you’re probably eager to get out of town, kick back and explore a new destination. But don’t be too quick to book the first flight or resort you find that offers a great price. The total cost may include hidden travel fees, also known as “drip pricing.”

Drip pricing is when hotels and other companies advertise a price that turns out to be only “part” of the full price. Then as you go through the booking process or after you check in, the business adds on more fees to bump up the total cost, sometimes substantially.

“Even when you carefully plan and budget for a vacation, additional travel expenses often crop up, thanks to a sneaky technique called drip pricing,” warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which offers these tips to avoid getting soaked by the hidden travel fees of drip pricing.

Find out: How to Vacation on a Budget as Costs Rise in 2022

1. Don’t get burned by resort fees

Many hotels and resorts don’t list “destination” or “urban” fees prominently on their website, according to the BBB. Instead, you must click through several pages to find the total price.

To avoid paying resort fees, the best option is to avoid booking hotels or resorts that charge such fees. Another way to avoid resort fees is to charge enough on a hotel-brand credit card to earn “elite” or another status that waives resort fees on hotel and resort stays.

Find out: 6 Tips for Saving Money on Summer Vacation Travel

2. Slam the door on hospitality tax

Hidden city taxes can ratchet up the total cost on a hotel or resort. “Some cities charge hotel or hospitality taxes, which aren’t included in the hotel’s nightly rate,” says the BBB. “Check the total amount you’ll be charged before paying to see if you are charged any extra taxes.

Find out: Tips That Can Help Save You Money on Your Next Vacation

3. Get on board with shuttle service fees

Just because a hotel or resort advertises “shuttle service to the airport” doesn’t mean you’re getting a free ride. Call the hotel and make sure the shuttle service is free before booking. If there’s a fee for the shuttle service, compare the price with what you’d pay for Uber or Lyft.

You may be better off booking a rideshare service to and from the airport.

Find out: The Cost of Driving vs Flying

4. Shift away from parking fees

It makes sense to assume that when a hotel or resort advertises parking on the premises, you can park your car for free. However, that’s not always the case.

“Not all hotels offer free parking, so ensure this is included before you book, especially in high-traffic areas with limited parking space,” advises the BBB.

5. Look closely at hotel amenities

When you see photos on a hotel’s website of guests lounging on cabana-covered beach chairs, you may assume that’s just one of many luxury amenities included in the rate. That assumption that all amenities are included can cost you more than you planned for your travel budget, however.

Some hotels charge fees that boost the total price of the stay for amenities like a continental breakfast, poolside towels, in-room snacks, and early check-in, according to the BBB.

Find out: Practical Ways to Save Money During Your Next Vacation

6. Read cancellation terms carefully

If you book a flight with an airline that advertises no cancellation fees, don’t simply assume that the airline will refund your ticket price if you cancel. For example, Southwest Airlines doesn’t charge cancellation fees. Instead, the airline credits the amount that you can use when you book future flights.

Find out the specifics — including whether the voucher or credit for canceling must be used within a certain time frame — of an airline’s cancellation policy before booking.

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About the Author

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp

Deb Hipp is a full-time freelance writer based in Kansas City, Mo. Deb went from being unable to get approved for a credit card or loan 20 years ago to having excellent credit today and becoming a homeowner. Deb learned her lessons about money the hard way. Now she wants to share them to help you pay down debt, fix your credit and quit being broke all the time. Deb's personal finance and credit articles have been published at Credit Karma and The Huffington Post.

Published by Debt.com, LLC