Marriott Now Bans Credit Card Surcharges In The U.S. And Canada

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.

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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  1. […] View from the Wing reports that Marriott has instituted a new brand standard banning credit card surcharges at all of its properties in the US and Canada. While I don’t think that the practice of adding surcharges to pay by credit card was a widespread issue, this is nonetheless a very positive change. […]

Comments

  1. “and aren’t going to go through the hassle of finding an out of network ATM while on vacation”

    Do you mean finding an “in network ATM”? Finding in out of network ATM usually isn’t the hassle.

  2. It would be nice if they would similarly define breakfast so properties can’t claim a sugary muffin with melon slices and no coffee or a $8 voucher that doesn’t cover the cost of anything on the menu is breakfast. What about the thousands of guests who paid this fee? Will they be refunded?

  3. Marriott headquarters let you know that the business practice of swindling guests at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort with bogus confiscatory credit card surcharges wasn’t acceptable. When will all their guests get an automatic refund to their credit card accounts for improperly collected surcharges along with a letter apologizing for their deceptive consumer overcharge? If you were “bonvoyed” you can add your complaint here. http://www.bonvoyed.com

  4. No fee on whatever credit cards, not only marriott co-brand ones.

    Not every countries have those (marriott co-brand credit cards).

  5. Excellent. A couple of months ago I showed them your article about this and they said it led to “much discussion” as well as a refund. This kind of thing shouldn’t go on. Now about airline bag fees….

  6. Onr major assumption is dangerous, that the hotel is not harmed by credit card surcharges. People need to think who they are hurting.

    For a hotel, credit cards make sense but for small businesses, credit cards are often extortion. Credit card processors charge an increasingly high variety of fees. The biggest one is where the entire cash reward or cost of points comes from the small business. They are forced to accept all of one brand, like Mastercard, including the most generous reward cards.

    Credit card processors charge all kind of fees, swipe fee, daily settlement fee, commission, higher commissions for reward cards, security fee, etc. I saw a credit card processor statement once and saw the the merchant was paying slightly more than 10% in total fees.

  7. So how long until that hotel leaves Marriott because that seems to be what every hotel does when Marriott attempts to exercise its power as franchisor

  8. Marriott has ABSOLUTELY lost their mind since the merger. I don’t care if this is an “owned” or “franchised” property.

    Surcharging customers paying by card? I can’t remember the last time I had a single dollar bill in my wallet. It’s all “plastic” now.

    These airlines, hotels, car rentals, and cruise lines will be “taking us to the cleaners” for the next few years because they
    had next to zero income for 2020.

    No thanks, Marriott. I don’t like what you’ve done to the former Starwood properties and especially (renaming) to the BonVoy program.

    I’m still cringing about the “BonVoy” name. How much did they pay someone to come up with that name? Millions of classier names to choose from and they come up with that???

    Glad they stopped the card surcharge.

  9. @derek I saw a credit card processor statement once and saw the the merchant was paying slightly more than 10% in total fees.

    In 30 years in public CPA practice I have NEVER had a client had such a fee. 1% to 2.5% is normal. The merchant has choices to pay the fee or NOT pay the fee buy accepting only cash. I had a Fast Food shop increase it’s revenue 40% it’s first year that it started to accept credit cards. I was at an antique show where merchants were asked if they accepted credit cards they said NO and the person walked off. LOST SALES!!!!!! I remember the store manager making a night deposit for a store and being shot with a gun, died because of having to deposit the cash each night. That procedure stopped after he was murdered for the resister receipts. With Covid 19 many places are saying Credit or Debit Cards NO CASH. Cash spreads germs.

  10. +1 to what FNT Delta Diamond said:

    “It would be nice if they would similarly define breakfast so properties can’t claim a sugary muffin with melon slices and no coffee or a $8 voucher that doesn’t cover the cost of anything on the menu is breakfast. What about the thousands of guests who paid this fee? Will they be refunded?”

  11. Nice work getting this fee stopped.

    Credit cards = increased sales, period.

    Only small-minded properties try to penalize customers financially for spending more money.

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