Consumer alert: hidden fees to watch out for when booking a hotel

PHOENIX -
How often do you reserve a room at multiple hotels expecting to cancel once you finally firm up your travel plans?
 
AAA Arizona is warning it could cost you more than it ever has. The standard for most hotels was a 24 to 48-hour window to cancel reservations with no penalty, but not anymore.
 
AAA travel says more hotels are implementing a ten-day notice to cancel reservations. Others are even sticking with a one day-minimum charge even if you do cancel early.
 
It can vary by the package at the same hotel too; you'll also notice more non-refundable rooms now as well.
 
“Typically with that non-refundable room it's going to be a lower price, and that's going to draw people in, but people might get so excited about that price they're not thinking about 'Do I really want to book a non-refundable room?'” said Michelle Donati with AAA Arizona.
 
Also, keep in mind when a hotel offers free WiFi, free shuttle service, free access to fitness centers, it often isn't actually free.
 
You're paying resort fees, and resortfeechecker.com says resort fees are going up, 8% since December.
 
Hotels do have to disclose the fees, but often it's in tiny print when you go to the final checkout page, changing that initial deal for the nightly rate.
 
If it's a hotel that takes half the payment upfront, you'll see that extra $30, $40, $50 a day tacked on to your secondary bill.
 
Donati says the easiest way to avoid confusion is to use a travel agent. Otherwise the key is reading everything and call the hotel directly to ask questions.
 
“It's not as easy as finding a room and reserving with a couple of clicks. You do need to do some reading and research to avoid a bill that's much greater than you anticipated and perhaps going over whatever you budgeted for that trip,” Donati said.
 
For a list of hotels by state and a breakdown of fees, click here
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