Two months ago I wrote about the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort hitting customers with a 2% fee to pay by credit card. Marriott has rich credit card deals with Chase and American Express, but Bonvoy members were even being penalized at this hotel for paying with a Marriott credit card.
Marriott let me know this wasn’t acceptable and that the practice would end. The next month, however, the hotel had changed its practices.. and was billing guests 1% to pay with a credit card.
It took some time, but this hotel no longer imposes a credit card fee – and no Marriott hotel in the U.S. or Canada is supposed to, either. A Marriott spokesperson tells me,
Marriott recently instituted a brand standard for the US and Canada prohibiting properties from imposing surcharges when guests pay with a credit card. As a result, the Westin Ft Lauderdale is no longer engaging in this practice.
Hotel credit card surcharges are not about the cost of processing credit card transactions.
- They are a way to squeeze guests for a surprise extra charge that adds up across every guest room every night.
- 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, in an unfamiliar town, or rushing to get to the airport.
And hotels aren’t being hurt by credit card processors, either. When a guest pays by credit card the hotel doesn’t risk making incorrect change, doesn’t have to store cash at the front desk, doesn’t risk employee theft, and doesn’t have to deal with depositing large sums of cash at the bank. Credit cards save the hotel money, credit card guests spend more, and Marriott has a 10-figure credit card deal with its issuer banks.
The practice is common in some parts of the world, like Australia and Fiji. When businesses were allowed to pass along the cost of credit card processing to customers as a surcharge (but, oddly, not the cost of other kinds of payment) the government then had to follow up with additional rules cracking down on merchants because they were overcharging customers.
Marriott should exercise its influence over hotels beyond just the U.S. and Canada. At a minimum, payment with Marriott co-brand cards should be exempt from these junk fees worldwide. However you should know that if you ever encounter such a fee in the U.S. or Canada that it’s being imposed by a rogue property against Marriott’s rules.