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Imagine your luck finding a hotel room in Vegas for just $35 a night – and a nice one at that. In many other US cities, a decent hotel room would cost at least twice as much. But then imagine you get to the hotel and you’re told at check-in that there’s a mysterious hidden fee of $50 a night – yes, more than the room rate itself. What would you do?

That seemingly hidden fee, ladies and gentlemen, is the resort fee – and it’s one of the most common complaints from guests at any given Las Vegas hotel. What exactly is a resort fee, and (most importantly) do you have to pay it? We’re going to share all the details here, including the best ways to get around this frightening little fee.

What Are Resort Fees?

You weren’t charged resort fees when you booked your hotel online, and you may feel completely certain you weren’t told about them at all. In reality, the information was most likely there, although in small print underneath your total. Nightly resort fees are never taken at the time of booking, but rather when you check into your hotel.

Almost all Las Vegas hotels charge a nightly resort fee on top of the nightly room rate. But let’s answer your question: what exactly are these resort fees?

Back in the day, if you wanted to use the hotel pool, gym, or other such amenities, you would be billed separately for the use of each amenity. The nightly resort fee bundles all of these amenities into one “handy” fee, making all of these luxurious amenities available for any guest’s use.

Does this sound like a rip-off to you? Well, let’s just say you’re not the only one.

What Does a Resort Fee Include?

Each Vegas hotel’s list of what their resort fee covers varies slightly. Let’s look at one of the most popular Las Vegas resorts, Caesars Palace as an example. The amenities covered in their resort fees are:

  • WiFi for two devices per room per day
  • Fitness Center access for two daily
  • All local calls

Some other common amenities included in hotel resort fees are a daily newspaper, boarding pass printing, and unlimited local phone calls.

But what if you’re not planning to use any of these amenities during your stay? Unfortunately, this reasoning won’t get rid of those darn resort fees from your final bill.

What’s The Real Reason for Las Vegas Resort Fees?

If all of this sounds fishy to you, you’re not alone. And you’re quite right: there are a couple of reasons why Las Vegas hotels charge a resort fee that they’re not telling you.

Firstly, resort fees allow hotels to make their base room rate look more appealing to guests booking online. Hotels can advertise a $45-a-night room and get your attention, then disclose a $50 resort fee in small print somewhere later on in the booking process. By this point, you’ve likely got your heart set on staying at this hotel, so you resign yourself to eat the cost.

Secondly, it allows hotels to pay a smaller percentage of your booking cost to the online travel agency you’ve booked through. Online travel agencies (or OTAs) receive a commission for every booking they bring to the hotel, and resort fees are not included in their commission.

Are Hotel Resort Fees Legal?

In short, yes they are. In saying that, even the US government has questioned the fairness of resort fees. In 2017, the FTC released a statement that said, “…consumers are likely being harmed by the hotel industry practice of disclosing mandatory resort fees separate from posted room rates, without first disclosing the total price.”

In October 2023, the Biden Administration proposed “a crackdown on junk fees”, explaining that “Junk fees are hidden, surprise fees that companies sneak onto customer bills.” The statement from The Whitehouse specified:

“This would mean no more surprise resort fees at check out… The rule would apply to industries across the economy, including… hotels and lodging… Under the proposed rule, companies that fail to comply could face monetary penalties and have to provide refunds to consumers.”

For now, there are no laws in place that prohibit hotels from charging resort fees – so you might just have to bite your lip and pay them. But this leads to the burning question:

Do I Have To Pay Resort Fees?

There are a few websites dedicated entirely to this question. Some of them swear up and down that you don’t actually have to agree to paying resort fees when checking in to your hotel. As a hotel manager turned blogger, I’m sorry to tell you: these websites are misguiding.

Unfortunately, resort fees are mandatory and you can’t refuse to pay them (unless you want to lose your reservation and be shown to the door).

“What if I kick up a real fuss?” I hear you asking. Even the front desk manager will not remove your nightly resort fee simply because you don’t want to pay it. “Well, what if I ask really nicely?” Again, that won’t do anything to help your situation.

There are just a few ways you can actually avoid paying resort fees, and here they are.

How To Avoid Paying Resort Fees in Las Vegas

Option 1: Book a Hotel Without a Resort Fee

There are very few hotels in Las Vegas that don’t charge a resort fee, but they do exist. We wrote an article that lists the top 10 Vegas hotels without a resort fee, which will save you a whole lot of calling around.

Option 2: Speak To Your Casino Host

“My casino what-now?” If you’re not sure what a casino host is, this option likely doesn’t apply to you. High rollers and VIPs who play big in a resort’s casino get assigned a host who sometimes gives them freebies like comped suites, meals, and removal of resort fees.

Option 3: Sign Up for a Player’s Card and Look for Special Deals

In our article on how to do Vegas for free, we strongly suggest signing up for a player’s card at the casino hotel you’re staying at. Once you’re a member, keep a lookout for special promotions that may or may not include the perk of “no resort fee”.

Here’s where you can sign up for a player’s card online:

For MGM properties: MGM Rewards

For Stations Casinos properties: My Rewards Boarding Pass

For Caesars properties: Caesars Rewards

Option 4: Become an Elite Rewards Member

At some resort chains such as MGM and Marriott, having an elite status in their rewards program will sometimes mean you don’t get charged a resort fee. For the remainder of us, being a lower-level member might get you other useful perks like free parking. 

Don’t Get a Nasty Fright from Resort Fees

Before you go ahead and book that hotel room in Vegas, be sure to take a look at the breakdown of the fees and taxes. It’s in there somewhere, sadly in small print. If you still can’t find it, take a look at our handy resort fees guide. Staying informed will ensure you have a fabulous stay in Las Vegas – without any frights.