Wow: Westin In Florida Charges Fee To Use Credit Card

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

This has to be one of the most baseless “junk” fees charged by any hotel in the US (and there’s a lot of competition for that title). Perhaps the most interesting part is that Marriott continues to let the hotel get away with it.

Westin in Florida charged 2% credit card fee

Several weeks ago View from the Wing flagged that the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort was charging a 2% fee to pay by credit card. This was disclosed during the booking process, and there was a sign at the front desk indicating this.

While this is common in some countries outside the US, this isn’t an acceptable practice in the US, and I can’t think of any other hotel with a policy like this.

There’s so much that makes this ridiculous:

  • A vast majority of people pay for hotel stays with credit cards, as it’s simply not realistic or practical to pay for most hotel stays with cash or checks; a hotel stay is not a pack of gum at a gas station
  • Most hotels require you to have a credit card or make a large cash deposit for incidentals, etc., making charging for credit card usage even more ridiculous
  • Marriott has a huge co-brand credit card agreement worth billions of dollars, and I’m sure American Express and Chase wouldn’t be happy to know that guests have to pay extra to use their credit card when staying at a Marriott hotel
  • In Florida, merchants have restrictions on incentivizing cash vs. credit card payments

It’s pretty obvious that this isn’t actually about the cost of processing credit cards, but rather it’s a pure money grab by the hotel. The hotel already has a $39 daily resort fee, so the hotel probably viewed this as an easy way to get an extra 2% revenue for nothing (which can really add up, admittedly).

Did Marriott force this hotel to become compliant?

View from the Wing flagged this issue for Marriott, and was quickly told that Marriott would make sure the hotel is compliant, which presumably meant eliminating this fee. So, how did that go?

Well, the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort is now charging a 1% fee to pay by credit card. So it was cut in half. Oh, and in the process this fee is no longer being disclosed online, but a reader who checked out a couple of days ago reported that this was still being charged.

Before we start to feel sorry for the position any hotels are in right now, keep in mind that Florida resorts are doing exceptionally well right now, better than in 2019. This is truly a mediocre looking Westin that’s charging $300+ per night during the regular season.

Bottom line

The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach has been charging a fee to use credit cards, which is the only major hotel in the US I know of with such a policy. The hotel was charging a 2% fee, though after Marriott was made award of this, that was reduced to 1%, and it seems like in the process the fee is also no longer disclosed.

I think this perfectly exemplifies how little control Marriott has over its individual hotels, and why the Marriott experience is so inconsistent.

Ridiculous, eh?

  1. Lather rinse & repeat…Marriott has no control over its properties (nor apparently any desire to do something about it), and DGAF about the end consumer / loyal user experience


  2. I could be wrong, but I believe there is something in the contract between the credit card processor and the retailer (the hotel in this case) that specifically prohibits charging a fee for using a credit card.

  3. It’s also a violation of their Merchant Agreement with the card issuers. A merchant may offer a discount for cash, but not charge a fee for card acceptance. Sadly, enforcement by card processors is rare

  4. This is so dumb! Why not just raise the nightly room rate by 1% to offset it. Why intentionally piss off your customers, when this can just be buried into the room rate and no one would know any different?!

  5. The Gwen (Luxury Collection) in Chicago also does this (except it’s 1%). There are other Marriott properties engaged in this BS money grab as well.

  6. In 2019, I ended a 27-year relationship. My dry cleaner started charging a service fee.

    Don’t mess with my miles! Bye bye

  7. Not sure why people don’t just bombard this resort on TA with bad reviews just on this charge. It’s a valid review complaint and it appears that the GM is responding to each review. After 10+, maybe they will reconsider.

  8. Given that this is actually illegal in Florida, a report to the relevant authorities might be in order.

  9. Maybe customers should all agree and declare that they will not tip anyone during a stay at any hotel that does this.

    Then let the hotel workers pressure management to change the policy or lose staff.

  10. “In Florida, merchants are prohibited from having these kinds of credit card surcharges”

    The legislation cited in the link is dead letter and not the law due to a court ruling. The 11th Circuit found (and I wish this were a joke) that banning credit card surcharges while allowing cash discounts is an impermissible infringement on businesses’ commercial speech rights protected under 1A in Dana’s Railroad Supply v. Attorney General, Florida, 807 F.3d 1235 (11th Cir. 2015).

  11. It is ridiculous, but complaining that Marriott has no control over their 6,900+ properties is also absurd. Hotels are going to go rogue, lots are operated by individual ownership groups just under the hotel brand umbrella. It happens.

  12. The fee is definitely illegal (as many have pointed out), but laws only matter when they’re enforced. Barring any class action (possible) or private lawsuit (unlikely), this would take the Florida Attorney General to bring justice. But one gets what one votes for, and if anyone thinks a Republican AG would do anything about this, you’re fooling yourself. (Because, jobs! Hahaha) Elections have consequences, and this is an example of that…

  13. Well the Hilton Burlington Lake Champlain (VT) was also doing this as of three weeks ago. It is not disclosed at booking, and just saw before checking out a 2% credit card surcharge for every item within the folio. The front desk agent manually reversed those charges upon check out but stated that it was just only being waived for Diamond customers who requested so.

  14. What next a return to single supplements! They were the days hotels made a killing on single travellers.

  15. I’m surprised the hotel doesn’t call it something else. Like pandemic surcharge, or reservation fee. Something more generic.

  16. Everyone just pay them in penny coming and see how convenient money is for the hotel. I’m sure after a few thousands in pennies they’ll drop this stupid charge

  17. I love credit perks and rewards, that is why I am here. But I have to say credit card model is outdated and it will eventually disappear in future. Especially US credit card, charge too much for too little benefit to the merchants. newer payment system will replace credit card eventually. However, I am surprised a high margin merchant like luxury hotel do this first. The smaller merchants should be the ones rebel the first.

  18. While I’m surprised a high end hotel would do this, this is actually common among small businesses – especially family owned. They lose so much money having to pay the fees. Here in Philly, many neighborhood restaurants and cafes don’t take debit or credit – cash only, which I support. Keeps money local. Large corporations and such I don’t care if they are charged but local places I always try to pay cash even if they accept cards just to make sure they keep all profits.

  19. The Sheraton Aukland has been charging a fee to use their branded credit card or any other type of credit card for years…

  20. You say “Most hotels require you to have a credit card or make a large cash deposit for incidentals, etc., making charging for credit card usage even more ridiculous.”

    The guest can always put down a credit card at checkin but pay cash at checkout, thereby avoiding both the deposit and the fee. (I routinely pay part of my bill with the remainder of my cash when I’m leaving a country I don’t expect to return to soon. I’ve never had a problem having a hotel accept cash at checkout.)

    I fully agree that this is a ridiculous and offensive policy. I’m just pointing out a way to avoid the deposit requirement. This may result in a hold on the credit card, but no actual charge.

  21. @Lu, “But I have to say credit card model is outdated and it will eventually disappear in future. ”

    I await your magical world where my payment method doesn’t take fees from anyone, and also extends me credit as required.

  22. I’ve stayed there; it was not enjoyable. They cancelled every amenity they could and you’re just paying to be sort of near a beach, with multiple broken elevators + meh room + understaffed and all services cut service.

    I moved to the St Regis Bal Harbour after a few days, which, while nicer, actually was a pretty bad stay as well.

    In short, Four Seasons next time…

  23. I would pay the fee and immediately call American Express and dispute the extra fee and let them drop the hammer on the Westin.

    Whether illegal or not, I’m sure it violates some contractual agreement with Amex as others have stated.

  24. Just use your debit card. Credit card companies charge businesses a lot of money, so it’s understandable businesses charge Pope for using credit cards. If I pay using cash or debit card I should get a lower price.

    You don’t need to use cash or checks, debit card is fine.

    Most gas stations have one price for credit, and a lower price for cash/debit.

    It makes sense.

  25. I work for a credit card processor, it’s actually no longer illegal for surcharges to be charged for credit card purchases in Florida. It’s really up to the merchant and their processor to set the rate, some companies go as low as 2%, others go as high as 4%. As a consumer it sucks to pay this way, for the sales representative who makes 4-5 times more on a merchant account that’s processing this way, it’s gravy. Take that how you will.

  26. It would be great if all customers would actually pay in cash.
    The fees the Hotel would have to pay to process and handle that cash would beat them at their own game, turning a money grab into a cost factor for the property…..

  27. I live in Ft. Lauderdale, stayed at this hotel once before this surcharge started and would not recommend this property anyway. It isn’t nearly as nice as most Westins and the rooms leave much to be desired. The bathrooms are very poorly designed and particularly awkward to use if staying with another person. In addition, if I’m forced to pay a ripoff resort fee, I want to stay somewhere much more luxurious than this place.

  28. “I would pay the fee and immediately call American Express and dispute the extra fee and let them drop the hammer on the Westin.”

    Amex wouldn’t bother, they’ll check to see if your account is in good standing then will credit you the amount requested, they won’t even call the Westin…

  29. While the surcharge is dickish, people claiming this is against merchant agreements are confusing surcharges with convenience fees; they are different and are treated differently by credit card networks!

    Surcharges are a fixed percentage fee that by its nature is tied to the transaction amount. Convenience fees are a fixed amount fee that are not tied to the transaction amount aside from perhaps a transaction minimum (which ARE federally legal as of 2008 so long as they’re $10 or less).

    Surcharges ARE permissible under merchant agreements so long as they are reported to the processor and network, broken out on the receipt, do not favor one network over another (e.g., surcharge for AmEx vs no surcharge for VISA), no greater than the percentage that they are charged by the processor, and customers are properly notified.

  30. Also , people who don’t want to pay the fee but also don’t want to carry cash or a checkbook do have an alternative: They could use a debit card.‬ This is highly ill-advised though.

  31. It’s actually legal in Florida to charge a fee to use a credit card in Florida but to word it differently. Merchants get around this but saying it’s not a fee but rather when you pay cash, you get a 1% discount.

  32. Last month I stayed in a Westin where a 3rd party was paying for my stay and they charged the stay to my credit card. When I called to get it fixed the front desk manager said he saw the instructions that were not followed and that he would issue a refund. The refund never happened, so I had to dispute the transaction with my bank. I’ll be staying away from the Westin in the future.

  33. The Gwen in Chicago charges a 1% fee for credit card use. I recommend any properties charging this fee that we pay in dollar bills. Imagine the costs incurred by the hotel to have to process tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of currency per day. Where do you store that much cash?

  34. A quick google search reveals (as of 2020, maybe things changed) a Hilton KCI and a “VT hotel” both charging CC fees…I’ll bet there’s dozens of chain hotels doing this in the US…

  35. I am finding these extra charges everywhere and businesses r writing them off as COVID related…they need to make up for loss business. What about being lucky a customer is giving them business. Greed! I encourage everyone to boycott any merchants that r doing this as i know i will

  36. Sucks if if you were staying there and live in another country. If you pay by cc you pay a fee. If you pay by cash you pay all kinds of conversion and service fees to the bank on top of crappy exchange rates.

    Expecting the right way to fix stuff like this takes forever. Publicly calling them out is really the best solution. Need to start keeping all these hotels honest. Something tells me this hotel is either in the process of being sold so get all the cash you can now or leaving Marriott and rebranding so who cares kind of situation.

  37. Thanks for the heads up. Considering the number of hotel in FL, it shouldn’t be that hard for me to find one that isn’t being sneaky about overcharging me with “convenience fees” (convenient for whom?) or “resort fees” or ” city surcharge” or any of the other money grabs.

    Whenever I come across this sort of thing I call them out on TA. It might not get the hotel to stop, but at least it warns other travelers.

  38. Whilst I agree it’s wrong to charge the surcharge, I think it’s really naive to say Florida hotels are doing well “now”.
    The hospitality industry has been through hell and back and 1-2% of extra revenue is certainly not going to make any difference.

  39. @Mike wow even St Regis Bal Harbor which one of my favorite hotel in the US was a bad stay for you at this time? Interested to know how perhaps Ben may let you write a review to publish here as a guest!

  40. Add this credit card surcharge to the chance of running into miamiorbust makes a trip to Florida out of the question. I have never liked the place anyway. Just read some idiotic story in the paper and you have a good chance that it happened in Florida.

  41. Wow, so much vehement indignation! Just about every hospitality business in Australia recoups credit-card fees with a surcharge. We paid 1.36% extra when we went out for lunch today. It’s perfectly legal here, so they all do it, and why shouldn’t they?

    And for the record, such surcharges are NOT illegal in the United States, provided a small number of conditions are applied:

    A business must:

    Clearly disclose the fact that there is a surcharge before the transaction,

    Display the credit card surcharge on the receipt, and;

    Keep surcharges below 4% of the transaction, or the amount of the fees the merchant pays to the credit card companies, whichever is less.

    So go ahead and sue. The Supreme Court has already signed-off on surcharges, so you’re wasting your time. A better choice would be to boycott businesses that do it, and let them know why. It’ll be universal soon enough, though, just like it is here, so get used to it.

  42. Every Hilton in Australia does this. Frustrating – as most others don’t. Gouging at best (although at least we’ve not discovered non optional “Resort Fees” for the amenities that the hotels use to separate themselves from each other yet…!)

  43. It’s common in Australia and NZ, but I hope it’s not becoming more frequent. It’s a nightmare with the expense reimbursement from my employer, because they consider any surcharge to be something like a minibar consumption, i.e. voluntary and not reimbursable. It always takes several emails to convince them this surcharge is not voluntary and indeed is reimbursable.

  44. @Pete
    Surcharges are stupid, that’s why they shouldn’t. What’s next – an electricity surcharge? An employee surcharge? A toilet surcharge?

    You see where this is leading…responsible merchants in countries not AU or NZ roll these costs of business into the total price they display. Adding a 1.36% surcharge is asinine.

    Also, you are completely WRONG about the SCOTUS decision you cited. It is not a nationwide precedent, nor did it bless surcharges.

    It was a decision about a NYS law, and their decision was narrow in scope in striking down that law because they decided it regulated speech. Even then, they remanded it back to a lower court for further proceedings.

    Please don’t make blanket, false statements, when you have no idea what you’re talking about. In no way did SCOTUS bless any of the findings you claim.

  45. This is truly outrageous, but your point as to how this emphasizes the total lack of control that marriott has over properties with the name Marriott is key here. We would all enjoy much better stays is the old Starwood folks were in control…..

  46. These sneaky fees are terrible and I avoid businesses who charge them as much as possible…
    And the argument that businesses need to recoup the merchant fees is nonsense: The cost of processing cash or checks are much higher for a business due to the (manual) effort and risk (theft, fraud, loss) involved…. if we’d all go back to cash, costs would go through the roof for businesses…

  47. Ben,
    This 2% fee is known as a Surcharge and is legal in the U.S., except for a few states. It is designed to help offset the costs of credit card processing fees that the card brands control and charge. The following states have anti-surcharging laws, but they are unenforceable due to recent court decisions: CA, FL, ME, NY, OK, TX, UT. Beginning 2021, there are onlyv 4 states and 1 US territory the don’t allow credit card surcharges: PR, CO, CT, KS, MA. The caveat in any instance, is that a prepaid or debit card CANNOT be assessed the surcharge, even if they are ran as signature debit (running a card as a credit card) due to restrictions in the Durbin Amendment of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Some states (ME and NY) require disclosures to surcharge CC processing fees, by clearly posting both the cost if paying with cash and the cost with paying by credit card. This is in addition to the 4 card brands regulations to post signage at the POS and specify the surcharge amount. And there are limitations to the dollar amount of surcharge. This practice as well as cash discounting is starting to become very popular and sadly, its on the cardholder (customer) in the end. It was designed as a way to help merchants lower their processing fees because of the greedy card brands (MC, VISA, AMEX, DISC).

  48. With all kind of mafia visitors that love to be on South Florida, I’ll suggest to the hotel management to have a big and luminous sign at check in “Money laundry is welcome!!” Hello burglarys!!!!

  49. You know what would be the icing on the cake? Watch a customer book a 2-week stay at this Westin and bring $5000 in cash to pay for it. But the police meet/question them before they check out (and pay/close their bill) and seize the cash as part of asset forfeiture.

  50. Agree with ORD. This is just like the merchant charging resort fees or other extra fees. Just raise the price slightly and people will not notice, but if you start nickel and dime people, then they notice. I also think the details matter. Assuming they took the card for the authorization and did not tell me about it in advance, I would question them at check out and when they do nothing about it, then refuse to sign the bill. If I walk out, which I have done at some hotels before as the charges were incorrect and they refused to correct it, then this would be a bigger issue. In that case before, they still attempted to charge my credit card and I disputed the transaction. I asked them to show the signed credit card slip and explained that I did not agree the charges. The hotel couldn’t provide this. This said, as the internet is full of commenting about the credit card fee, this would be the last choice of hotel in that area of the country I would choose.

  51. Several things:
    1) It used to be against merchant agreements for companies to charge more to use a credit card, but a class action lawsuit 5 or so years ago forced the card issuers to stop that, so now it’s allowed. Still very rare, but allowed.

    2) Everyone talking about their local mom and pop places not taking credit card because the fees kill them don’t understand small business. a 1-3% fee for accepting credit cards isn’t killing them, they want cash to avoid paying the income tax on it. You can’t skim off the top and avoid some taxable income if all of your payments are on record, but if you deal all in cash then Uncle Sam never knows exactly how much money you are bringing in and making some of it disappear right off the top is infinitely easier and very hard to track.

  52. “For your safety” = extra charges

    get ready because this is only the beginning of these charges, hotels have to make up for the lost 2020 revenue.

    Convenience fee, credit card processing fee, safety fee, increased PPE fee, sanitation fee, pandemic fee, additional cleaning fee, employee health protection fee, social distance fee,

  53. Just say no. It’s really easy to stay somewhere else. Let them know and your social media know you chose an alternative and why.

  54. I’d recently heard to expect this in Florida and that it was up to the establishment if they would pass on the fee. I think some groups are “testing” the waters. If enough push back then they’ll likely stop charging it. If no one complains then they’ll continue to do and then others will jump in just like the “destination fee” and the “resort fee”. I also don’t understand a resort fee on a per day basis unless it’s including services or f/b credit. Use of the internet, 2 bottles of water, complimentary bicycles and use of the pool is not worth $39/day. Now, beach chair reservations, towel service, F/B credit, that makes more sense to me for per day charges. The idea is to get you to use the restaurants and lounges while staying on property as opposed to going next door to a bar and dropping $50/person.

  55. I had a ton of Marriott cat 5 certificates to use or lose by 8/2/21. I was going to use them at a Mt Fuji Marriott in Japan, but Japan has been a no go for a long time. So, I grabbed 4 rooms for 2 nights each at this place in June. Other cat 5 hotels north of Ft Lauderdale on the beach had just awful reviews. Got some grand kids that want the beach. This place at least had decent reviews expect people fight over the lack of beach chairs. So, we are all bringing our own chairs to make sure. What are you going to do. I’ll be damned if I am going to lose those certificates!

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