Marriott Hotel Tries To Charge Guests 2% For Paying With A Credit Card. Will It Fly?

In some parts of the world businesses charge customers extra who pay by credit card. This became common in Australia when merchants were allowed to recoup the cost of credit card processing from consumers, but then new rules were required because businesses were imposing surcharges that were even greater than their credit card fees.

This always seemed like a strange practice to me. The cost of accepting credit cards is often lower than the cost of accepting other forms of payment. People bounce checks. Cash disappears, change gets miscounted, and employees pocket some for themselves. Warehousing cash that needs to be taken to the bank can drive up insurance costs. In contrast, credit card processing is electronic, it’s easy to reconcile, and the funds are put straight into your account.

However Marriott’s Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort has been charging guests a 2% fee for paying their bills by credit card.

It’s unclear when this practice began. However if you look carefully enough it’s disclosed by Marriott when you book the hotel.

I suspect that, for a resort, this sort of surcharge is less about the cost of processing credit card transactions and more that everyone pays by credit card. Guests didn’t bring checks with them on their trip, and aren’t going to go through the hassle of finding an out of network ATM while on vacation.

Within 45 minutes of my flagging the issue for Marriott, I was told that the chain was in the process of ensuring that the franchisee that owns and manages the Westin Fort Lauderdale Resort ceases the practice.


Credit: Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort

I have to imagine that even if something Marriott might have been alright with otherwise, their partners American Express, Visa, and Chase wouldn’t have been. At this hotel customers were being charged extra for trying to pay with a Marriott Visa from Chase or with a Marriott American Express card.

As a next step I’ve asked whether guests who were taken advantage of by the property will have these fees refund. Have you experienced a fee to pay by credit card at a major U.S. chain hotel?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Isn’t this expressly against the terms merchants accept when they process AmEx or Visa cards? I know AmEx was cracking down on merchants that charged customers a processing fee for paying with an AmEx but not a Visa.

    What about the Old San Juan Sheraton that charges (or used to charge) separately for housekeeping? WTF is the the room rate for if not housekeeping.

    Not if only Marriott would enforce policies covering breakfast benefits, upgrades, resort fee replacement benefit in the case of internet, etc. on rogue hotels within 45 minutes of Gary Leff contacting them.

  2. Interesting that Marriott is clamping down on this while effectively promoting resort fees.

    More concerned about their partnerships than the folks that fundamentally drive their business, heads in beds.

    It’s their choice to make, but it doesn’t seem like a winning long-term strategy. Eventually even big corporate accounts get taken over by the folks that used to be those “heads in beds” and they start factoring in “decreased productivity” for staying at a Marriott due to the inconsistencies, which sends them to take their business to other chains.

  3. Stayed at a JW Marriott last week that had a $45 resort fee. That was effectively a 20% surcharge on my daily rate. Where’s Marriott corporate when you really need them…

  4. LOng time loyal SPG member and devastated by this latest BS. It’s the hospitality business and increasingly less and less hospitable. Business is bad enough pandemically speaking, and they should be focused on regaining that and leisure travelers. I bet if Arne were around he would put an end to this. ANd something about showing a Membership card…someone told me in a comment that new cards were never even part of the plan. They didn’t let us keep our old numbers which was bad enough, then no cards so we could even remember the new ones. Shameful all of it.

  5. I was charged a credit card fee at a Marriott in Fiji. At the very least I think Marriott should wave it if using a Marriott credit card.

  6. Can’t comment about overseas but in the US isn’t this almost certainly against their card processing agreement?

  7. @ Gary — A new reason to avoid Marriott. Can I borrow a piece of paper, my list is running over?

  8. I have had a Marriott Visa credit card. For over 30 years. It was the only credit card so I used it for everything. It Marriot stars to charge my any fee to use their card, I will cut it in tiny pieces. They are many other credit cards out there that will appreciate my business

  9. Federal law doesn’t prohibit surcharges. 10 states prohibit merchants from charging these surcharge fees. These states are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.

  10. “if a credit card is your preferred method of payment”

    Actually, my preferred method is to pay cash, but I don’t have the cash today, so I’ll have to use a credit card which is not my preferred method. No fee then, right?

  11. Marriott bonvoy loyalty program customers service has not been really providing any service. They are just lame and repeating their term without anybody willing to do anything. Their ambassador service is a disgrace, even worse the other lower elite member program

  12. Pretty sure Chase and American Express will have a problem with this when people start canceling their credit cards…

  13. Very few people pay with cash. This is just another way of sneaking excess charges thru to the customer. I will not stay at a property that does this and if done to me without my knowledge I will dispute the charge on my CC.

  14. i always believed this was illegal — or at the very least, against credit card policies.
    oh well, caveat emptor — and there are always alternative hotels!!

  15. It’s not against the card holder agreement. A few years ago, the credit card companies entered into a settlement which banned that practice. However, as stated earlier, a number of states (including Florida) ban this practice and the settlement specifically permitted those bans to remain in place in those states.

    So, I imagine that state law plus AMEX/Chase not liking it allowed for the swift reversal.

  16. In European Union countries credit card surcharges are no longer allowed since a couple of years. In some Asian countries the property owner may surreptiously charge you applying “dynamic currency conversion” by charging in your home country’s currency converting the local currency expense at a rate invariably less favorable than the rate your card issuer would otherwise apply.

  17. Ha, thought it was just me angry at Marriott, been a loyal member for 20 years. After Covid, it seems they are trying to catch up. How bout resort fee at an actual resort. Here’s one I can’t understand, paying exorbitant amount for parking at YOUR hotel. I agree, they are getting close to me going back to Hilton

  18. I would not knowingly book a hotel reservation at any property that charges such a fee,

  19. Marriott over the last decade has gone from my go to brand, to the brand I now have very negative feelings about.
    Fortunately, there are many other hotel companies to choose from. To do my part, my dislike for Marriott is clearly expressed to my business associates and they are starting to stay clear also.

  20. hmm I think I had this in Delaware but just expensed since it was a business trip…having been a small business owner, it all adds but I’ve often found consumers prefer a one price solution rather than nickel and dime….resort fees I’m torn on…I know it’s pain if you’re not there to use the pool, golf course, gym, shooting range..whatever the resort offers and you’re there just to work/sleep/rinse and repeat. It sucks when you picked it due to location and your bombarded by the tourists having fun and you’re just wanting a quiet moment at the end of the day or lunch break.

  21. Great way to turn away customers and anger those who have achieved elite status.
    I will start to look elsewhere for lodging.

  22. These charges are practically universal in Australia (I think) and New Zealand (I’m pretty sure), but are waived if payment is made by cash or by EftPos which I think is a direct bank transfer like a US debit card. Annoying, but …

  23. @Gary – You published this around 8:00 am Central time today and as of 5:00 pm Central time the surcharge language is still on their website. And to think Florida is one of the states that prohibits this!

  24. This is something Marriott needs governance over in their franchise agreements; it shouldn’t become a customer issue.

  25. As noted by other Marriott Chase card holders, this is ludicrous. On one hand they encourage use to get as much as 5 Bonvoy points per dollar spent and then turn around and assess a fee? I’m not a litigious person but expect any reasonable judge would side with the consumer. My guess is that this new plan will be short lived due to the push back. I’ll start using up my points reconsider my loyalty.

  26. If the state prohibits it then the customer needs to file a complaint with the Attorney General with that state’s Consumer Division. @Danny is correct in the states that prohibit it., BUT it limits the amount of the fee to the actual amount the company pays. Thus if the hotel is charged 1.5% then they can only charge 1.5% not 2%.

  27. Marriott needs to hire a Senior Vice President of Laying Down the Law.

    This executive’s mission would be to find properties that are violating a brand standard, schedule a meeting with the owner, and ask point blank, “What the phuck do you think you’re doing?”

  28. Two words. No way. We’re supposed to bring hundreds, or thousands of dollars to pay for our room? And how do we do a pre-paid room, mail in a check? This is ridiculous. If they want 2% more they should be transparent and add it too the room rate.

  29. Here is Calif it is illegal, as many have pointed out. One sneaky way businesses work around it is to charge customers a lower rate for cash purchases. So they aren’t adding a credit card surcharge, they’re extending a cash discount to the posted prices.

  30. We just stayed at Westin Fort Lauderdale Resort late February and there was no credit card fee on bill.

  31. Not unusual around the world. Was looking at an expedition with resort stay in Mexico, 4% for paying with CC which meant an additional $200 in charges.

    They want wire transfers. Of course, getting your money BACK if you’ve used a WT instead of CC is a real fun process, relying on the honesty and quickness of the company.

  32. Hotels are acting like the airlines nickeling and dimeing you to death. A charge here and a charge there.

  33. It used to be forbidden by the card issuers for businesses to add credit card surcharges for purchases, but there was a huge lawsuit a few years ago against Visa/Mastercard and part of the settlement said that Visa/Mastercard could no longer forbid businesses from charging those surcharges, so unfortunately this is allowed now. And even though it’s illegal in Florida as noted above, good luck filing a complaint with the Florida AG, they don’t care about consumers at all, especially when you’re likely from out-of-state. I’ve filed a few consumer complaints before (as a FL resident) and they do absolutely nothing with them and won’t investigate anything.

  34. I just earned Globalist status, but I will definitely switch back to Hilton over this. Absurd greed!

  35. Marriott is really pushing the envelope! I pay 1881 for my maintenance fee! It’s so discouraging. Then they won’t you to vote for one of there ceo, chairman, secretaries whatever? How do we know these people,,we don’t it’s just a false!
    What kills me is having to pay for the sun protection with the papaya! Outrages they advertise the beautiful beaches but you have to pay extra. They are out of control! Wish u could sell but I’ll lose money!!

  36. Not much different than gas stations charging one price for cash and another for card. Happens all around. In Florida, the highest price is ‘supposed’ to be advertised, but never is. It’s a bait and switch. Sad that a Westin is doing it. Marriott has sunk so low.

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