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Reservations and Early/Late Checkout

What is the difference between "confirmed" and "guaranteed" reservations?

There are two types of reservations you can make when reserving a hotel room: confirmed or guaranteed. A guaranteed reservation means you put money down usually using a major credit card when you first reserve the room. The hotel then holds your room for the entire day of expected arrival. You are 100 percent guaranteed the room no matter what time of day you arrive.

A confirmed reservation is similar except there is no upfront charge. Like with a guaranteed reservation, you make a reservation that is confirmed by the hotel. In this case the hotel can deny you the room if you fail to arrive according to the initial arrangement. For example, if you are scheduled to arrive at 3:00 p.m. and you show up at 5:00 p.m., your room could be given up.

Both are legitimate types of reservations, but guaranteed reservations are more secure-especially if you might encounter delays. Whatever your choice, make sure you receive a confirmation number to avoid confusion.

How do I go about canceling hotel reservations to avoid fees?

Many hotels expect you to cancel by 6:00 p.m. on the date of arrival, although some require 24 to 48 hours and sometimes even 72 hours in advance. If you fail to do so, there may be a cancellation fee, which is often the cost of the first night's room rate. This fee can vary from hotel to hotel. If you cancel within the deadline, there will not be a penalty, and you should be credited any money, if any, that you may have put down.

What happens if I try to make reservations online and my credit card is not accepted?

There are a few possible answers. One is that your card is not accepted at that particular hotel. (Make sure you ask before booking.) Another is that your credit card expiration date is past the reservation date. A Third is that you may have reached your credit limit on your card. And lastly, there may just be a computer error with the hotel or with your bank.

Can I be charged a fee if I decide to check out of the hotel sooner than expected?

When you make reservations for several nights at a hotel but decide to depart earlier than expected, you may be assessed an early departure fee. This fee can range from $50 to $100. Approximately 15 percent of U.S. hotels, especially hotel chain properties in large cities, currently charge early departure fees.

Can a hotel charge me a late fee if I do not checkout by the posted checkout time?

If you checkout after the checkout time (usually noon to 3:00 p.m.), some chains charge up to 50 percent of the daily room rate as a late checkout fee.

TIP: When you make a reservation, ask for:

  • the hotel's refund policy if you must cancel;
  • the policy on early checkout if you leave before your final reservation date;
  • applicable discounts honored such as AAA membership, corporate or off-season discounts;
  • parking rates, local taxes and telephone charges;
  • a free shuttle to the airport and how to access it;
  • check-in and checkout times;
  • policy on whether you must arrive by a certain time to be guaranteed the room;
  • the early check-in or late checkout policy;
  • services such as complimentary breakfast; and
  • information on amenities, such as pool and exercise facilities, programs for children, childcare and associated costs.