Why You Shouldn’t Use A Debit Card When Paying For A Hotel Or Rental Car

Why You Shouldn’t Use A Debit Card When Paying For A Hotel Or Rental Car
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When you’re asked for your credit card before renting a car or checking in at the hotel, they’re often not just taking an imprint. Travel expert Peter Greenberg points out that, more often than not, a hold is being placed on your available balance for the entire estimated bill. While this can be fine for credit cards, it’s a bigger problem with debit.

The hold occurs because the hotel or rental car agency wants to protect itself by ensuring you can’t overspendn. Basically, if the money isn’t available for use there’s no chance you’ll use it. If you provide a debit card, this effectively reduces the money in your bank account before you owe it.

While this sort of hold is easily reduced on a credit card with a quick phone call, it can take much longer with debit. If your bill turns out to be less than expected, you could end up without access to your own money.

This is most easily remedied by using a credit card when asked, but if you don’t have one or don’t want to use either just ask for alternatives. You may be able to get the amount of the hold reduced or even eliminated if you offer to pay partially up front (e.g. for the first night). If you end up using a separate card for the hold, be sure to ask the hotel to have it removed once you pay or it could persist long after your travels have ended.

Travel Tip: Blocking Charges For Hotels & Car Rentals [Peter Greenberg Worldwide]


    • I have been to hotels where cash was frowned upon, where it meant paying a room deposit or just getting the runaround when booking.

      Some even refused to take a booking without a credit card, ostensibly so they could take a fee if we cancelled our booking.

  • I got caught out with this just last week which was even more frustrating because I had already paid for my stay on wotif. To make matters worse because I had a tight budget I did’nt notice the hold until the day after I had left that hotel and was staying elsewhere and I couldn’t pay for my room because they were still holding the funds. Luckily for me I work for the bank that my funds were held on so I was able to get the hotel to fax the paperwork direct to somebody who could remove the hold quickly for me.

  • I used to work in a hotel, as stated hotels are just looking to protect themselves. Hotels generally don’t like cash because there is no insurance and usually the bond doesnt even cover if anything goes wrong. The countless times people say they haven’t had anything in the minibar and it’s been demolished or someone has substituted the vodka with water, or half open a can of coke so it makes the gas releasing sound but isn’t visibly open. They are minor things, but the times where people have thrown feaces all over the room or smoked in a room that needs extensive cleaning. Only someone who has work in a hotel would understand the amount of the staff go through.

    • amen to that! The hotel i work at used to take cash admissions, but we stopped after people trashed rooms, smoked and stole electronics, and we had no way of tracing them down or billing them. We have the holds for a reason, and we can never be sure who is going to wreck our rooms, so don’t take it too personally 🙂

  • When travelling through Europe I was carrying only debit cards and when I went to pick up a hire car I had booked from Dublin airport, I was made to take out the extra insurance on the car purely because I was using a debit card and not a credit card. Beware of this sort of thing happening

  • top if off, if you are not able to withdraw money from your debit card using the CHQ/SAV options at ATM (ie..forced to use CREDIT), you cannot withdraw money at pubs and casinos…credit cards cannot do cash withdrawals…so the option is not there!

  • We gets asks at least 10-20 times a week about debit card reservations for car rental – Adam, you’ve hit the nail on the head here. WE cannot stress the benefits to car rental customers enough – still customers WANT to use their debit cards.

    In Australia, we find the main reason behind this is that; A great deal of travellers are not Australian residents, and therefore they aren’t able to get credit.

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