This Hawaii Hotel Surcharge May Catch You By Surprise

One of the places in Honolulu where editor Rob likes to stay is the Alohilani. The rates are reasonably fair, the City View room he stayed in was nice, but without much view, the location is great, and the pool deck was trendy with a bar. Plus, a topped-rank coffeehouse, Kai Coffee, sits streetside facing the beach.

There were a few issues with the hotel, but honestly, it was what we just saw with our own eyes that just felt wrong. Sometimes, it isn’t even about the money but rather that feeling of being nickel-and-dimed to death.

This also seems strange since we’ve recently experienced a number of hotels have gone completely cashless in order to avoid all of the problems with that. This seems both cumbersome for the hotel and completely annoying for guests. Not to mention who really carries an additional $3k in cash around with them on a Hawaii vacation?

Alohilani Resort leads with bold new Hawaii hotel fee.

The Alohilani Resort is a mid-range, large Waikiki hotel with more than 800 rooms. It was rebranded from the Pacific Beach Hotel and opened under its current name in 2018. During the rebranding and redesign, the legendary two-story Oceanarium was saved.

Regarding the new surcharge, we were alerted to this by a comment from Mary, who reported:

“Last time I reserved a room 3 weeks ago, I understood that it is customary to reserve a hotel with a credit card, no? Here’s a new one for you in the fees department.

Please no! One of my favorite hotels, the Alohilani, now requires this:

Please Note: Effective March 3, 2023, a credit card processing fee of two percent (2%) will be assessed on all credit and debit card transactions relating to hotel guest stays, and charges throughout the property.”

So we headed back to the Alohilani website since we couldn’t quite fathom it. We know that credit card surcharges have been somewhat normal in many industries but in a large Hawaii hotel? It was a first, at least for us.

When checking, we confirmed the exact language that Mary was referring to.

It wasn’t immediately obvious but rather was found on the terms and conditions page, which is available prior to paying and after selecting your room. There were some other interesting points on that page:

  1. A valid credit card is required to guarantee and secure your online reservations. BOH: Okay, so I guarantee payment with my credit card, but in order to avoid the credit card surcharge, I bring cash to the hotel.
  2. Cancellation/Modifications/Non-Arrival Policy: If you cancel within 72 hours prior to arrival, you’ll pay for one night on our credit card BOH: That, plus 2%, of course.
  3. A daily resort fee of $48 will be collected upon our arrival. BOH: Bring cash.
  4. Tree fee: Optional $5 per room. BOH: Commenter Patrick said this is automatic unless you opt-out.
  5. “A credit card processing fee of two percent (2%) will be assessed on all credit and debit card transactions relating to hotel guest stays, and charges throughout the property. This fee will apply to both physical and virtual credit cards.” BOH: How about just making the price the price and being done with it?

How much does it add up to?

To be honest, for a one-week stay, the credit card charge below only added up to just over fifty bucks. So it isn’t about the money, although when added to the other ancillary charges, it was, we’d say, over the top.

We just decided to play with the numbers based on a 7-night stay based in low season (early May) and based on the “Best price per night” of $284. If you stay for 7 nights, including resort, fee, and credit card surcharge, here’s where you end up. The non-room charges end up amounting to a whopping 39% of the total bill.

  • Room: 284.05 per night x 7 nights: $1,988.35
  • Resort Fee (mandatory): $48 per night x 7 nights: $336.00
  • Parking (optional): $48 per night x 7 nights: $336.00.
  • Total for 7 nights before taxes: $2,713.56.
  • Approx. taxes (17.92%): $486.27.
  • Credit card surcharge on above: $64.00.
  •  Grand total: $3,263.83

Photo by Editor Rob at Beat of Hawaii during his stay at Alohilani.

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68 thoughts on “This Hawaii Hotel Surcharge May Catch You By Surprise”

  1. Wow , that’s quite expensive for a week , have been staying in studio condo on the beach near the outrigger canoe club for a month every year and with taxes and cleaning fees it’s $4000 a month , actually right over the beach with great view of Waikiki beach across the water although just one mile away . What is the $5 a day tree fee? That $48 a day amenity fee is crazy , especially for people old enough to know why motel 6 is called motel 6. Yes , all rooms were $6 a night . When there are cruises this summer from California to hawaii and back (16 nights ) visiting 4 islands and for one person $2000 ( of course All the food you want and essentially a free hotel room on 4 islands ) these hawaii hotel rates are quite high

    1. Which condo/building by the Outrigger? I may consider that in future. I don’t eat in waikiki on my yearly solo trip. I travel by bus which works out well, especially for senior ($1.25). Still my hotel (one back from ocean) is over $550 per night with fees. 10 nights is all I can afford! I would stay 3 weeks for $4,000!

  2. Vote with your pocket book and don’t go to this and other places like it. They’re moving into scam territory now. In fact skip HI altogether and go to Mexico. Mexicans want you there and they are the kindest people I’ve met in any country.

  3. This is starting to happen all over not just in Hawaii. On a recent eight day road trip through Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado, we ate in more than one restaurant that added a CC surcharge. It’s somewhat understandable with all the crazy price increases over the last two years and no end in sight.

    If it were my business, I’d avoid the word “surcharge” and just call it a “discount for cash”. Still annoying and they aren’t fooling anyone, but then I don’t feel like I’m getting nickel and dimed as bad.

    1. But a “discount for cash” is essentially the best way. They (the establishment) have increased prices across the board to account for credit card processing fees, so if you are paying cash – you should get a discount.

      1. One would ordinarily expect this, however, we are speaking of the industry which values money, and political clout, above everything else. They might charge more for taking, the soon to not be reported, cash due to Safety and Security Concerns. In Hawaii there’s always the possibility of the unexpected at every Hotel and Resort. The Only places that I will pay in Cash are Food Venues, Vendors, and Roadside Smaller Businesses.

  4. All these companies starting to post signs saying 2% or 3% fee to use a credit card. It’s really starting to annoy me to the point on the last mini “steak of blazes” I just left. We pay 6 figures a year in credit card processing fees, it’s part of business.

      1. Right, a “convenience fee”, lol! Actually, it’s a convenient way for the business to pass through the credit card fees to the consumer on behalf of the business.

  5. Wow! Getting as bad as Vegas, some of the restaurants there like Beer Park charge a 4.8% concession fee. Valet parking used to be free, the buffets were cheap, lots of great deals and coupons, not anymore they nickle and dime you to death.

    Hawaii is getting too expensive and they will end up killing a lot of tourism because of it. For us, it costs about $1000 a day with airfare, hotel/condo, car, food and activities.

  6. You are both the best when it comes to travel communication-not to say you are not the best at other things; however for myself I rely on you to give me the most current and factual information. Many many mahalos!

  7. I wish the Alohilani best of luck in the future. I guess I won’t be staying there anytime soon. Do the decision makers at the Alohilani understand the term “transparency”. Sheesh!


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