Hotel Knowhow: How to Leave Without Checking Out

A hotel is a great place to relax with spas, great food, and luxurious rooms, but the morning of your departure can often be stressful. With so many things on your mind (such as packing up your suitcase and hurrying to catch your flight), it’s easy to forget to check out. So, can you leave a hotel without checking out?

You can leave your hotel without checking out. This is because most hotels already have your credit card information and will still be able to charge you for your stay. Many hotels have a box where you can deposit your key card without having to go to reception. 

In this article, I’ll explain what happens if you leave a hotel without checking out. I’ll reveal what to do with your key card if you’re in a hurry and how the hotel charges your stay. Let’s dive right in! 

Can I Leave a Hotel Without Checking Out?

You can leave a hotel without checking out because they don’t need you to be there in person to bill you. However, if you require a paper invoice from the hotel for your stay, or you want to check how much they’re billing you, it’s good to check out in person.  

As with flying, many hotels also require proof of identity, and if your credit card is declined, they will contact you to pay the balance.  

If you can, checking out of your hotel in person is a good practice and informs the hotel that your room can now be cleaned and prepared for the next guest. 

Many hotels (especially budget hotels) don’t have receptionists on duty very late at night and early in the morning. If you need to leave early to catch a flight, look in reception for a box where you can deposit your key card.

Some hotels have electronic check-out kiosks that guests can use 24/7, making the check-out process easy. 

If you’re unsure how to check out of your hotel, speak to the concierge or someone at reception. 

What Happens if I Forget To Check Out of a Hotel?

If you forget to check out of a hotel, the hotel will charge the card they have on file. If they don’t have your credit card information, they will send an invoice with the charges so that you can pay upon your return home.

If you forgot to check out of your hotel, try and do so as soon as you realize your mistake. If you can’t return to the hotel in person, call or email them to inform them. Checking out over the phone is also an option. 

Alternatively, check the hotel’s website to see if an online check-out is available. This typically only takes a few minutes, but you’ll need details of your stay on hand, such as your reservation number. 

Do Hotels Charge You for Not Returning Key Cards?

Most hotels won’t charge you for not returning the key card. This is because they can simply deactivate the card upon your departure. The key cards are usually coded for the length of your stay in the hotel and expire when you leave.

Hotels buy key cards in bulk, and the unit cost is very low. They will, therefore, not bother charging you for it if you don’t return it. However, some hotels still insist guests return the card because it can be used for visiting their spas, pools, or the gym.

The situation can be very different if your hotel is traditional and still uses physical keys. If you left the hotel without returning the traditional keys, it’s best to contact the hotel as soon as possible so that you can mail them the keys.

However, some hotels will tell you not to bother as they can simply make a copy of the master key.

Some hotels offer their keys as a souvenir of your stay as they can help market the hotel. If the hotel requires you to return your keys when leaving and charges for lost or taken keys, they will have it written on their website and in the reception desk area. 

Still, it is good to double-check with the staff at check-in and make sure there are no fees for taking the key with you.

Can You Leave Hotel Keys in a Room?

You can leave your hotel keys in your room. This is a smart and safe solution if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to go to the reception. If you decide on this option, it’s polite to inform the hotel staff ahead of time that you’ll be leaving the keys in the room.

Leave the keys in a visible place, such as the bed or the table, so the hotel staff can easily find them later.

Should You Book a Hotel for the Day You Leave?

You don’t have to book the room for the day you leave because hotels charge per night. The day after your last night with the hotel, you’ll usually need to check out between 10 AM and midday. This gives them enough time to prepare the room for the next guest. 

If you’re not out of the room at check-out time, the hotel will likely charge you for an extended stay. Even a half-hour delay counts as staying another night

If you need to stay at the hotel beyond check-out time, chat with them ahead of time to see if they’ll grant you a few extra hours at no extra charge. Alternatively, vacate your room and ask them if you can securely store your luggage at the hotel. You could always enjoy a coffee in the hotel restaurant or wait in the lobby until you need to leave.  


Although leaving a hotel without checking out is acceptable, it’s better not to. Checking out alerts the hotel that you’ve left and gives them time to prepare your room for the next guest. It also advises how much your stay was and allows you to discuss a discrepancy in your bill.