Like many businesses, hotels are always looking to increase their revenue without appearing to increase their prices. That’s the only way to interpret the trend of spacious suburban hotels and remote resort properties imposing parking charges. This is especially egregious in places where parking is plentiful and there aren’t many public transportation options.
But I rarely pay for parking when I travel, as I’ve developed several strategies that are highly effective at avoiding this unnecessary fee.
Become a Hyatt Globalist
The primary way I avoid parking charges is by earning top-tier Globalist status with the World of Hyatt program.
Once you have Globalist status, you’ll receive free parking at nearly all Hyatt hotels and resorts. So long as the hotel has the ability to charge parking to your room, it should qualify. That said, there are a few urban hotels that don’t have their own parking lots and can’t offer you this benefit. So it’s best to verify this benefit before booking a hotel where you’ll need to park.
Normally, Globalist status requires 60 night-stay credits in a calendar year, although it’s been temporarily reduced to just 30 night-stays in 2021. But that doesn’t mean you need to stay 30 or 60 nights away from home each year – let alone pay for all those nights – as there are other ways to earn night-stay credits.
First, you earn a night-stay credit for every night you stay in a Hyatt property, even if you redeemed points or used free night certificates for your stay. And since I typically pay for hotel stays with my points, I’m able to earn this status with little out-of-pocket expense.
I also earn points and night-stay credits from having the World of Hyatt credit card from Chase.
The World of Hyatt card also offers double points at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, on local transit and commuting purchases as well as fitness club and gym memberships. The World of Hyatt credit card automatically includes a free night certificate for a Category 1-4 hotel each year (after your cardmember anniversary), plus a second one when you spend $15,000 on the card each year.
But what really makes this card great for earning Hyatt Globalist status is you receive five night-stay credits each year, plus another two for every $5,000 spent on the card. So if you spend $15,000 in order to earn the second free night stay certificate, you’ll receive a total of 11 night-stay credits before you ever check into a hotel. That’s five for having the card and six for spending $15,000.
In the vast majority of Hyatt hotels that I’ve stayed in, I’ve had parking charges waived that ranged from $10 a night to as much as $50. With this perk, there’s no reason you couldn’t rent a car when you stay at a Hyatt property in major cities like New York or London.
Even when you aren’t renting a car, you can still use this benefit for friends or family who drive to your hotel to visit you, as the car does not have to be yours. Just tell the hotel you’ll be parking a car, then meet your guests outside and give them an extra room key for their visit. I used this parking benefit recently in a city where I was visiting friends who drove to the hotel, but I didn’t actually have a car.
Other Strategies for Parking Free at Hotels
Many hotels offer packages that include free parking, but usually at a slight premium to the standard rate. This difference in price could be much less than paying the standard rate for parking.
After that, the next best trick is to negotiate parking into your room price. To do that, simply call the hotel directly and ask to speak to a manager (don’t call its corporate reservations line). Tell them you are considering making a new reservation, but are concerned about the parking charges.
Inform them that you’ll be happy to make the reservation right now if they’re willing include parking in the standard price. And if you have elite status with the hotel, feel free to mention that, as it could have an influence.
Another strategy is to simply find free parking in the neighborhood. A little research could reveal that there’s free street parking nearby. In Denver where I live, as with many other large cities, there’s no charge for street parking from Saturday night until Monday morning. While not free, there are also apps like Parking Panda that can help you find prepaid parking at greatly reduced prices. In fact, I once used Parking Panda to stay in my hotel’s parking lot for a fraction of what it normally charges guests.
Thinking Outside the Box
Some hotels have rental car services in the hotel. If you can take a ride share or public transportation to the hotel, then you can rent the car in the hotel on days that you need it. In fact you might even be able to rent a new car each morning, return it in the evening and not have to pay any parking charges.
The most important thing you can do to avoid parking charges is to simply ask to have these charges waived. A sympathetic front desk clerk is usually empowered to waive parking charges in order to assure guest satisfaction.
If a staff member asks you about your stay, say it’s going great, but you do have one problem that you wish the hotel could solve. Mention the parking charge, and offer a good reason for it to be removed. For example, you could say that parking is plentiful, or that there’s no public transportation options or that the price is unreasonable.
Conversely, you could bring up any service problems that you’ve experienced, and ask if they might be willing to waive the parking charge as compensation.
When you’re getting an award night stay for free, or even when you’ve just got a great paid rate, having to pay for parking can ruin the entire equation. But once you achieve Hyatt Globalist status or successfully utilize another strategy to minimize or eliminate parking fees, you can enjoy your hotel stay without paying too much for your car to stay there as well.