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You checked into your hotel, gave a credit card for incidentals, and were careful not to ring up any charges. But even after checkout, you see an unexpected pending charge. Understandably, you wonder – will that incidental fee ever get refunded?

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the quick answer: Hotels do refund unused incidental fee deposits, but it often takes 7-10 days after checkout for the hold to fully drop off your account. To maximize the chances of a refund, notify the front desk about any unneeded holds.

This comprehensive 2,000-word guide will explain everything about hotel incidental fees, including what they are, how much is held, and most importantly, when and how to get your money back. With the insider tips in this article, you’ll be an incidental fee expert in no time!

Defining Hotel Incidental Fees

When staying at a hotel, it is not uncommon to come across additional charges on your bill that are not directly related to the room rate.

These charges, known as incidental fees, are expenses incurred for extra services or amenities provided by the hotel. Understanding what these fees cover and how they are handled can help you better manage your expenses during your stay.

Covers Extras Like Room Service

One of the most common types of incidental fees is related to room service. If you order food or beverages to be brought to your room, you can expect to see a charge on your bill. This fee covers the cost of the food, as well as any additional service charges or gratuities.

It is important to note that the price of the items ordered may also be marked up compared to what you would pay at a restaurant outside of the hotel.

Other extras that may be covered by incidental fees include in-room movies, minibar items, spa services, and parking. These charges can quickly add up, so it is wise to review the hotel’s policies and prices before indulging in these services.

Room Service

Held as a Deposit

Incidental fees are often held as a deposit on your credit card or as a temporary hold on your bank account. This ensures that the hotel has a method of payment in case you incur any additional charges during your stay. The amount of the deposit can vary depending on the hotel and the length of your stay.

It is important to keep in mind that although the incidental fees are held as a deposit, they are not automatically refunded. The charges will remain on your account until the hotel has processed your final bill and any necessary adjustments have been made.

This process can take a few days, so it is a good idea to budget accordingly and be aware of the potential delay in seeing the refunded amount back in your account.

When checking out of the hotel, be sure to review your final bill and inquire about any charges that you do not recognize or believe to be in error. If there are legitimate charges that you wish to dispute, it is best to address them with the hotel staff before leaving the premises.

For more information on hotel incidental fees and how they are handled, you can visit websites such as TripSavvy or These resources provide valuable insights and tips for travelers to navigate the world of hotel fees and charges.

How Much is Held for Incidentals?

When staying at a hotel, it is common for hotels to place a hold on your credit card for incidentals. This is done to cover any additional charges that may occur during your stay, such as room service, minibar purchases, or damages to the room.

The amount held for incidentals can vary depending on the hotel’s policies and the length of your stay.

$50 – $100 Per Night

Many hotels typically hold a certain amount per night for incidentals, usually ranging from $50 to $100. This amount is often authorized but not charged to your credit card. It serves as a temporary hold to ensure that there are sufficient funds available to cover any additional expenses that may be incurred.

It’s important to note that the actual charges for incidentals are not deducted from this hold unless you actually make purchases or cause damages. If you don’t use any additional services or amenities, the hold will be released, and the funds will become available again on your credit card.

Depends on Hotel Policies

The exact amount held for incidentals can vary depending on the hotel’s policies. Some hotels may have a fixed amount per night, while others may base it on a percentage of the room rate. Additionally, luxury hotels or resorts may hold a higher amount to account for potential higher-priced services or amenities.

It’s always a good idea to check the hotel’s policies regarding incidentals before your stay. You can usually find this information on the hotel’s website or by contacting their customer service. Understanding these policies can help you plan your budget accordingly and avoid any surprises when it comes to your credit card statement.

Keep in mind that each hotel may have its own unique policies and procedures for handling incidentals, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with them before your stay. By doing so, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience during your time at the hotel.

Depends on Hotel Policies

When and How Are Deposits Refunded?

When it comes to hotel deposits and incidental fees, the refund process can vary depending on the hotel’s policies. Understanding these policies can help you plan your finances and avoid any surprises during your stay.

After checkout

Typically, hotels will refund your deposit and any unused incidental fees after you check out. The hotel staff will assess the room for any damages or missing items, and if everything is in order, they will initiate the refund process.

It’s important to note that the refund may not be instantaneous, as it may take a few days for the transaction to be processed by your bank or credit card company.

Some hotels may require you to sign a waiver or provide a credit card authorization form at check-in, allowing them to charge your card for any incidental expenses. In such cases, the hotel will only charge your card for the actual amount spent during your stay, and any remaining funds will be returned to you.

Refund Timeframe Varies

The timeframe for receiving your refund can vary from hotel to hotel. While some hotels may process the refund within a few days, others may take up to a week or longer. It’s always a good idea to inquire about the hotel’s refund policy when making your reservation or during check-in, so you have a clear understanding of when you can expect to receive your money back.

It’s worth noting that if you booked your hotel through a third-party website or travel agent, the refund process may be slightly different. In these cases, the refund will typically be processed by the third-party provider, and it may take longer for the funds to be returned to you.

It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the refund policies of the booking platform you used, as they may have their own specific guidelines and timeframes.

If you have any concerns or questions about your deposit refund, it’s best to reach out to the hotel directly. They will be able to provide you with the most accurate information and assist you with any refund-related inquiries.

Tips to Get Your Deposit Back

Notify Front Desk

One of the first steps you can take to ensure the return of your deposit is to promptly notify the front desk about any incidental fees that you believe were charged in error. This can be done during your stay or at the time of check-out.

Be polite and provide clear details about the charges you are disputing. Often, the front desk staff will be able to resolve the issue and remove the charges from your bill. If not, they should be able to provide you with further instructions on how to proceed.

Notify Front Desk

Call Your Bank

If the front desk is unable to resolve the issue, the next step is to contact your bank or credit card company. Explain the situation and provide any supporting documentation, such as receipts or proof of payment.

Your bank may be able to initiate a chargeback on your behalf, which can help you recover the funds. It’s important to act quickly, as there may be time limits for disputing charges.

Provide Receipts

When disputing incidental fees, it’s crucial to have proper documentation. Keep all receipts related to your stay, including those for any additional services or amenities you paid for.

These receipts can serve as evidence if you need to escalate your dispute with the hotel or your bank. Make copies of the receipts and ensure they are easily accessible, so you can provide them when needed.

It’s worth noting that the policies regarding the return of incidental fees can vary from hotel to hotel. Some hotels may have a more lenient approach and be willing to refund the charges without much hassle, while others may have stricter policies.

To avoid any surprises, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the hotel’s policies regarding incidental fees before your stay.

Resolving Erroneous Incidental Charges

Occasionally, hotel guests may encounter unexpected incidental charges on their bill. These charges can be frustrating and can put a damper on an otherwise enjoyable stay. Fortunately, there are steps that guests can take to resolve these erroneous charges and ensure a fair resolution.

File a Dispute

If you notice any incidental charges on your hotel bill that you believe to be incorrect, the first step is to contact the hotel directly. Explain the situation calmly and provide any evidence or documentation that supports your claim.

Many hotels have a dedicated guest relations department or a manager who can assist you with resolving the issue. They will investigate the charges and work towards a solution.

In some cases, the charges may be a result of a simple error, such as a mistake in room allocation or an incorrect entry in the billing system. By filing a dispute, you give the hotel an opportunity to rectify the issue and potentially refund any incorrect charges.

Report to BBB

If you are unable to resolve the issue directly with the hotel, another option is to report the incident to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB is a nonprofit organization that aims to promote marketplace trust.

They provide a platform for consumers to submit complaints against businesses, including hotels. By filing a complaint with the BBB, you can bring attention to the issue and potentially receive assistance in resolving it.

The BBB will contact the hotel on your behalf and facilitate communication between both parties to reach a satisfactory resolution. Keep in mind that the BBB does not have the authority to force a hotel to refund charges, but their involvement can often encourage a cooperative approach from the hotel’s management.

It’s important to note that hotels have different policies regarding incidental charges and refunds. Some hotels may have a specific timeframe within which you need to file a dispute, so it’s crucial to address the issue promptly.

Additionally, familiarize yourself with the hotel’s terms and conditions regarding incidental charges and refunds before your stay, as this can help you avoid any potential misunderstandings. Overall, by following these steps and maintaining open communication, you can increase your chances of resolving erroneous incidental charges and obtaining a fair resolution.


As you can see, hotels do refund unused incidental fee deposits – but it’s not always a quick or automated process.

With some diligence about contacting the hotel and bank, as well as disputing any false charges, you can ensure rightful refunds and avoid incidental fee headaches on future vacations.

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