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Real Cost of Free Vacations

Every so often, you see them being offered for taking a small step, such as visiting a furniture showroom (no purchase necessary). The two-night, three-day hotel stay seems too good to be true. So, what’s the catch?
WalletVacation_blogAs you probably know, hotels are not 100% full all of the time and they’re happy to give away the open rooms for just the cost of room tax, hoping that once you’re there, you’ll stay an extra night, eat in the restaurant, or pay for use of the spa, casino or other amenities. Of course, you’re not obligated to do any of these things, but they know that a certain percentage of their guests likely will, and others will enjoy their stay so much they’ll be back as paying guests at some point in the future. It’s not as convenient as simply calling a hotel and booking your stay because you’ll need 30 days advance notice, and you need to give the agency three choices of locations/dates. Eighty percent of the time, you’ll get your first choice, but not always.
Then there’s the real cost. We’ve broken it down for you as follows:
A redemption fee (once you get the free certificate, you’ll need to redeem it) of anywhere from $15-30. This pays the company that negotiates with the hotels for setting up your reservation.

Room tax - anywhere from $12-33 per night, paid at time of reservation, usually at $33 per room per night, and the difference is refunded to you after your hotel stay.
A fully refundable $50 deposit, to guarantee your room. This is sent back to you after your vacation, however, if you don’t show up, the hotel has the right to keep the deposit since they held the room for you.
If you’re taking children with you (the certificate covers 2 adults only) it’s an additional $5 per night per child.

So, here’s what a hotel stay will cost (you can get this voucher just for signing up for emails at if you redeem a 5-day, 4-night hotel stay:

$15.95 redemption fee

Up to $33 per night for room tax, at four nights: $132.00 

$50.00 (refunded) registration 

$40 if you’re taking 2 children ($0.00 if you’re not)

$237.95 for a five-day getaway for a family of four. After the $50 back, your total cost is $187.95. Not a bad price for some family time and summer fun!

Is it free? Of course not. But if you can find a hotel that will give you four nights for four people for just $187.95, we want to know about it!

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