Hotel parking fees are out of control. Here's how to fight them.

Hotels have finally gone too far when it comes to parking fees.

More properties are charging their guests for parking, the fees are higher than they've ever been – and sometimes, hotels even charge guests who don't have a car.

I'm not kidding. When Sira Mas checked into a boutique hotel in Chicago recently, she found a $25 per night fee on her bill for parking. But she didn't have a car.

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"Although the hotel staff appeared empathetic, they clarified that the parking fee was a mandatory expense for every visitor," said Mas, who works for an e-commerce company in Spain. She said she appealed to a manager, who agreed to remove the parking fee.

Hers is not an isolated incident. I'll have a few more parking fee stories in a minute. But first, let's find out how bad they've gotten – and what's behind the rise in these fees.

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How much do hotels charge for parking?

The average hotel parking fee is $44 a night, according to research by The site has a database of more than 10,000 properties, of which about 1,100 disclose their parking fees.

The most expensive cities for hotel parking are New York, San Francisco and Chicago, said Randy Greencorn, publisher of "Each of these cities charges an average parking rate in excess of $60 per night," he said.

In New York, parking fees can exceed $100 a night. The Pierre and Hyatt Centric Times Square both charge $105 a night. There are five hotels in Manhattan that are part of what I like to call the Parking Fee Century Club. The Westin New York Grand Central, Embassy Suites by Hilton New York Manhattan Times Square and Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza round out the list.

It's harder to establish whether parking fees are on the rise. Although doesn't have any historical data, there's plenty of anecdotal evidence that more hotels than ever are charging parking fees.

Most expensive cities for overnight hotel parking from
Most expensive cities for overnight hotel parking from

Why are hotel parking fees increasing?

Parking insiders say the rise in hotel parking fees – and hotels' insistence on charging a fee even if you're not parking a car – is driven by a variety of factors. They include increased land costs, inflation, and higher costs of maintaining a parking facility.

The economics of parking are also shifting. Thanks to ridesharing and mass transit options, more guests are arriving without a car.

"Parking fees can account for up to 20% of a hotel's total revenue," explains Greg Bessoni, general manager of, a site that sells airport parking. "So having fewer guests with cars can affect their bottom line."

But how did optional parking fees become mandatory? For years, hotels have added parking charges to all of their guest folios only after verifying they came by car. But somewhere along the line, the parking fees became required – whether you drove there or not.

Hotels employed the same logic as they did with resort fees, the mandatory charges added to your hotel room after the hotel quotes a price. (In other words, a hotel will quote you a room rate of $150 but then add a mandatory $25 per night resort fee, regardless of whether you use the resort amenities.)

Hotels are charging a mandatory parking fee using the same reasoning. You could have used the parking spot, but you didn't.

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Are mandatory parking fees the new resort fees?

In 2024, don't expect your hotel to bother asking you if you are parking your car at the hotel. You may just see a charge on your bill.

Sam Girach did when he stayed at a hotel in Los Angeles.

"Although I didn't have a car, I was surprised to find a parking charge on my bill at the end of my stay," said Girach, a game designer from Skeffington, England. "When I enquired about it, the front desk explained that it was a mandatory fee for all guests – whether they had a vehicle or not."

But Girach felt that was unfair, so he decided to fight the charge.

"After some negotiation, they finally agreed and removed the charge from my bill," he said. "This experience made me wonder why hotels are increasingly charging for parking, even when guests don't use the service."

Maybe Girach has seen the future. While mandatory hotel resort fees may be on their way out, thanks to proposed new federal regulations, mandatory parking fees may turn into a rich new source of revenue for hotels. Maybe mandatory parking fees are the new resort fees.

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Guest can fight these parking fees – and win

As far as hotel fees go, most hotel guests feel mandatory parking fees are laughably absurd. They're right up there on a list of the worst hotel fees next to energy surcharges (now illegal) and resort fees (soon to be illegal).

But there's good news for any hotel guest hit by a mandatory parking fee. You can fight the charge and win.

If you start to think about the logic behind the latest parking fee, the absurdity comes into focus. Charging a mandatory parking fee makes about as much sense as adding a mandatory pet fee to your room, whether or not you brought your dog. (Maybe they'll try that next?)

Guests should not tolerate it. If mandatory parking fees feel unfair to you, then you should refuse to pay them. You should also not give your future business to any hotel that added a parking fee to your bill without your consent. Otherwise, parking fees could become the next hotel resort fees.

Elliott's tips for fighting a hotel parking fee

You don't have to pay a mandatory parking fee the next time you stay in a hotel – unless, of course, you want to use the hotel's parking lot.

  • Read the fine print very carefully: Some hotels will disclose parking fees before you check in. You'll also find them on the form you sign at check-in and on the electronic folio on your in-room TV. Make sure you ask the clerk about parking fees when you check in. Carefully review your bill at check-out time and say something if you see a parking fee.

  • Don't wait to resolve this: The sooner you say something, the better. Ask the hotel receptionist to remove the charge. If that doesn't work, politely ask to speak with a manager. If that fails, contact the hotel's owner or hotel chain in writing to request it to undo the unwanted parking charge.

  • Dispute the charge on your credit card: The Fair Credit Billing Act allows you to dispute a credit card charge for goods or services you didn't pay for. Contact your bank or credit card company and explain that your hotel charged you for parking when you didn't park a car at the hotel.

Christopher Elliott is an author, consumer advocate, and journalist. He founded Elliott Advocacy, a nonprofit organization that helps solve consumer problems. He publishes Elliott Confidential, a travel newsletter, and the Elliott Report, a news site about customer service. If you need help with a consumer problem, you can reach him here or email him at

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to fight hotel parking fees