Sometimes we make plans, and they fall through. Such is the way of life. So what happens when you have planned a hotel stay but have to leave a day(s) earlier? Do you incur any fines?
Unfortunately, leaving early attracts what is known as an early departure fee. Here’s a brief explanation of what this means and why it’s charged.
What Is an Early Departure Fee?
The interpretation and amount of early departure fees differ among hotels. But for the most part, it’s a sum of money that guests pay if they fail to stay for the entire length of their reservation. This fee typically starts from $50.
Other hotels interpret this as the amount of money you have to forego if you end up leaving before your scheduled departure date.
Put simply; some hotels opt not to charge you for the nights you had booked but didn’t use. So if you had paid the full accommodation fee at the beginning, they may give you a complete or partial refund.
Question is, why do some hotels penalize you for cutting your stay short? The main reason is that they are trying to protect their revenue.
Let’s say that you had booked to stay for 7 nights and received a discount for this long-term stay. But for some reason, you end up staying for 4 nights. If you had booked a 4-night reservation from the get-go, you’d have paid a higher rate for each night.
Thus, an early departure fee is a way of protecting the hotel’s financial interest. It ensures that guests don’t evade the limitations that come with short-term bookings.
An example of a hotel that charges an early departure fee is The Venetian Resort Las Vegas. According to their website:
“If your booking is prepaid, nonrefundable – the full stay will still be charged. All other reservations will be charged the full amount including taxes and fees. Certain exceptions may apply.”
That said, it’s crucial to note that not every hotel penalizes you for checking out early, especially if you have a valid reason. Similarly, most hotels don’t impose this charge if they’re the reason for your early departure (poor living conditions or inadequate amenities).
For instance, the MGM Grand, can waive the early departure penalty if you inform the front desk of any changes during check-in. Their early departure policy on their website states:
“Guests will be asked to confirm their departure date upon check-in. Guests may be able to change their departure date without penalty at the time of check-in, depending on the terms of the rate which they have reserved. Please contact the hotel for further information.”
Related Article: Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel?
How Do I Avoid Early Departure Fees?
The best way to avoid this fee is by reading a hotel’s policy on cancellations and early departures. This way, you know how to plan your stay to the exact number of days you will spend at the hotel.
Also, inform the front desk during check-in that you plan to check out of the hotel earlier than originally stated. As seen from the MGM Grand hotel example above, you will likely get a fee waiver.
The other alternative is to avoid hotels that charge early departure fees. You may spend a lot of time researching to find one, but sometimes it is worth the effort. This is because some penalties can be more expensive than the daily costs of staying at the hotel.
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Do You Have to Check Out of a Hotel When Leaving?
In most hotels nowadays, you have to provide a mode of payment during check-in, which eliminates the need to physically checkout at the front desk. You can just leave, and the hotel will email you your bill once your stay has expired.
It’s even more beneficial to forego the checkout process when you have to leave a day early. The reason is that some early departure fees are higher than the cost of one night at the hotel. It’s easier and cheaper to leave quietly, and the hotel will check you out the next day in absentia.
Some circumstances may force you to cut your stay short at a hotel. If you anticipate this happening, be sure to check the hotel’s policies relating to early departures. This is because some hotels impose an early departure fee to compensate for the inconvenience caused.