Last Updated on November 4, 2021
A hotel isn’t a prison, you can always leave any time you want.
It’s important to understand that while you do need to formally check-in to a hotel, you often don’t need to formally check-out of a hotel by visiting the front desk.
Many business travelers walk out without saying a word to the front desk and are simply billed later using the card the hotel has on file.
There are a few ways to interpret this question. You might want do jump to the section most relevant for you.
- Do hotels charge for early check out? – You have booked a 5 night stay but decide you want to leave a day or two early. This is called an early departure. Will the hotel charge you the full price or refund the nights you did not stay?
- How early can you check out of a hotel? – You want to leave early in the morning before the front desk clerk starts work.
- What time can you check out of a hotel? – As in, do you need to leave near the scheduled checking out time, or can you check out at other times of day.
- Can you check out before check out time? – If check out time is 11 am, do you need to hang around until 11 am?
Checking Out Days Early
Do hotels charge for early check out?
If you have booked for a number of nights but need to leave before your scheduled departure day the hotel industry calls this is called an early departure.
You might be wondering, if you leave early will you still pay the full price.
Whether the hotel will charge you for the nights you didn’t use will depend on the policy of the hotel that you are staying at and the agreement that you entered into with them.
Many hotels charge an early departure fee for cutting your stay short, when they do this it means they won’t charge you for the remaining nights that you booked but didn’t use.
On the other hand, the hotel policy may state that they do not refund money for early departures, which means that you will be charged for the entire reservation period. This is more likely if you reserved some sort of a deal.
Even within the same hotel brand each hotel and specific deals might have different early departure policies.
There is no substitute for checking the policy of a specific hotel. You can usually find it on their website.
Here are a few examples:
|Example Early Departure Policies|
|“The policy may state that they do not refund money for early departures, which means that you will be charged for the entire reservation period.”|
|“Early departure fee of 50 percent of unused minimum nights will be applied.”|
|“Guests who check out of the hotel prior to their scheduled departure date are subject to an early departure fee of one night”|
|“All pre-payment reservations will be charged the full amount of their stay in the case of an early departure.”|
|“Early departure reservations are non-refundable.”|
|“The hotel will confirm your departure date upon check-in. In the case of an early departure the hotel will charge a 125 USD fee.”|
|“If you have a sudden change of schedule and need to leave early, please stop by the front desk. You will be responsible for any minimum night stay required at the time of booking, if applicable.”|
|“You may check out prior to your reserved departure date without incurring a fee if you meet the requirements of our Cancellation Policy.”|
|“The cancellation period and cancellation fee may vary depending on the room tariff. In case of an early departure, 24 hours’ notice of the revised departure date is required to avoid 1-night penalty.”|
As you can see the amount you’ll pay varies from a nothing (if you give them enough notice) to everything.
To find out what you signed up for it’s best to contact hotel management.
Sometimes you are getting a cheaper rate because you booked a longer stay. If you don’t complete the full stay you can’t still expect to get the special deal rate for few days that you did stay.
How the hotel will react if you want to check out early before your scheduled departure date will depend what agreement you made when you booked.
The hotel may be more sympathetic if you have a valid reason to cancel as short notice such as a family emergency.
Read up on your hotel’s Early Departure Policy and Cancellation policy. If they have a 2 day notice cancellation policy then I would not expect to pay more than the price of two nights stay to checkout early.
Checking Out Hours Early
How early can you check out of a hotel?
When you book or check-in to most hotels in the United States you provide a method of payment.
So you don’t need to follow any check-out procedure for the hotel to get their money.
That means that you don’t actually formally need to visit the front desk to check-out. You can simply get up and leave the hotel any time that you want.
If you’ve provided the hotel with a way to pay your bill you can just leave, you don’t need to stand in line, although it’s more polite if you can hand the key back to any hotel staff member and let them know you are leaving.
If you want to change your payment method, get a printed copy of your bill, or review the charges on your bill to check for mistakes you need to visit the desk to do that.
You can do that at any time. It’s common practice for guests to get the final bill sent up to the room the night before they leave.
That way in the morning it’s just a simple case of handing back the room key and saying bye. You don’t even need to do that if you don’t want but it helps the hotel to know when you have left so they can send in housekeeping to clean the room.
Can you check out before check out time?
The most common check-out time in the United States is 11 am. You certainly don’t need to hang around until 11 am.
Many guests will be up and awake for early flights and be gone before reception is open.
You can leave a hotel any time you want, you don’t need to check out at all. So if you simply have an early start you can go as early as you like.
If you need a paper copy of the bill and want to review any room charges you can do that the night before you leave.
If you wish to cut your stay short and avoid paying for the days you don’t stay you will need to negotiate with hotel staff.
It’s unlikely that you can just leave early and not pay any penalty. The hotel reserved the room for you and didn’t sell it to anyone else because you had indicated you wanted it.
You may be able to pay an early departure fee of 1 night or a similar fee, but if you signed up for a special deal you might end up needing to pay the full price