Your Rich BFF Vivian Tu Says Watch Out for This Big Mistake When Checking Out of a Hotel

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  • Vivian Tu says that hotel guests should ask for a copy of their folio when checking out.
  • A folio has all the charges a guest makes during their stay.
  • Reviewing your charges is important to catch any billing errors.

Billing errors at hotels are more common than you might think.

Checking out from a hotel is usually a straightforward process. The traditional option is to go to the front desk or simply leave your keys in a key drop. Many hotels also now offer other ways to check out, such as doing so through an app or on the TV in your room.

However, you don't want to rush through the checkout process too quickly. If you don't review your bill, erroneous charges could slip by. That's why in a video on her channel, Your Rich BFF, Vivian Tu recommended that you always get a copy of your folio before leaving a hotel.

Why you need to review charges before checking out of a hotel

Reviewing your hotel bill doesn't take long, and it's a good way to make sure you're not getting charged for anything by mistake. Because of how hotels work, it's actually fairly easy for billing issues to occur.

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One reason for this is that most hotels let guests charge expenses to their rooms just by providing their room numbers and a signature. This is convenient, but if room numbers get mixed up, a meal, spa service, or anything else the hotel offers could get billed to the wrong room.

The minibar is another frequent cause of billing errors. Some hotel minibars have sensors that detect if an item is moved and automatically charge the room. If you move an item, you could be billed for it, even if you put it back. Hotels will normally fix this for you, but if there are billing errors you don't spot, you'll end up getting overcharged.

This isn't a rare occurrence, and it can happen at any category of hotel, from budget properties to luxury hotels. For a firsthand example, I've noticed billing mistakes twice in the last year when checking out at hotels. One was a meal that got mistakenly charged to my room, and the other was a drink at a hotel bar. If I had left without reviewing my bills, I may not have ever realized I was charged more than I should've been on my credit cards.

How to get a copy of your bill

Vivian Tu recommends that you ask for your own copy of your folio when you check out of a hotel. A folio is a hotel's record of all the charges made by a guest. You could also ask for your invoice or bill. Any of these terms will work for getting a document with a list of what you were billed for.

While you can do this at the front desk, many hotels now provide more convenient options as well. Some let you check out online, and then send you the folio by email. There may also be the option of accessing your bill on the hotel's website or app.

The benefit of checking out at the front desk is that you can go over charges there and let the front desk agent know if anything's wrong. But if there's an option to check out online, your folio should be available promptly. You could check out while still in your room and go over your folio there. This way, you only need to go to the front desk if you notice a charge that wasn't yours. Otherwise, you can skip the checkout line and save time.

Alternatively, some guests like to ask for their folios the night before checkout. That way, they can review it without needing to rush.

What if you notice a billing error after checking out and leaving the hotel? In this situation, call the hotel and explain that there was a mistake on your bill. Customer service should be able to get it fixed for you. If for some reason the hotel doesn't believe you, then the next step would be a credit card dispute, or a debit card dispute if you paid that way. Fortunately, it normally doesn't come to this, as hotels will usually recognize the error and take off the charge.

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