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Traveling is something that nearly everyone has to do at some point. And if you travel far enough from home, you will most likely need to stay at a hotel somewhere. But what do you do if you want to book a hotel and you don’t want to use a credit card?
There are many reasons why you may not want to use a credit card. Some people don’t have credit cards, for example. They may not be able to obtain a credit card due to a bad credit history or something else.
Thankfully, it is possible to book a hotel room if you don’t have a credit card. You do have options. It’s always important to call any hotel you want to book a room with and ask them if they will accept alternate forms of payment. Don’t make any assumptions.
Let’s take a closer look at how to book a hotel without a credit card. There is no guarantee that any of these strategies will work, of course. Each hotel will have its own policy on booking rooms and what kinds of payment they will accept.
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Why Do Hotels Require You to Book with a Credit Card?
There are actually several reasons why hotels require you to book with a credit card.
First, many hotels place temporary holds on credit card accounts when rooms are booked to cover any incidental expenses that may occur during your stay – like damages. Hotels want to make sure they are covered in case something happens.
Many hotels also prefer to deal with credit card transactions because it reduces the temptation for employee theft. Hotel rooms are often expensive. It’s now common at many hotels for rooms to cost over $100 each per night. A hotel that only accepts cash would have thousands of dollars in its till every day if it booked just a few dozen rooms. That’s a lot of money!
Another reason why hotels prefer to deal with credit card transactions is to prevent people from robbing them. The less cash they have on hand, the less of a target they are to people who do bad things. Fewer cash transactions also means that employees don’t have to make as many trips to the bank to make deposits.
Ask for a Courtesy Hold
One of the simplest ways to book a hotel without a credit card is to ask for a courtesy hold. A courtesy hold is when a hotel books a reservation without your credit card. Courtesy holds are not as common as they used to be, although it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Consider Non-Chain Hotels
Another strategy to consider is to stay at a small hotel that is not owned by one of the big chains. Many small hotels are family-owned operations, and they may be more willing to book a reservation without a credit card than a large hotel.
Although many people overlook small hotels in favor of their larger competitors, it may be worth your time to consider them. Since the hotel is often the owner’s primary source of income, some owners may go out of their way to accommodate you so that your stay is memorable and enjoyable.
Many small family-owned hotels are also hidden gems. Their simplicity and quaintness is part of their charm. Many of these are older hotels have been remodeled to keep up with the times. You can check out pictures of rooms on hotel websites and read customer reviews on travel websites to help you decide whether you want to stay at a particular hotel.
Obtain a Secured Credit Card
Another simple strategy is to obtain a secured credit card. This is a strategy for those who may not be able to obtain a credit card due to bad credit.
What’s a secured credit card?
A secured credit card is obtained directly from a bank or credit union. To obtain the card, you deposit a certain amount of money with the lending institution. The amount of money you deposit is the maximum amount of credit that you will have on the card.
For example, let’s say you deposit $500 with the bank or credit union you obtain a card from. This amount, therefore, will be the maximum amount of credit your card will have. If you ever decide to cancel the card, the lending institution will then give your deposit back to you.
The purpose of making a deposit with the lending institution is to make sure that funds are always available to cover any purchases made on the card. Some people obtain secured credit cards to help them build credit until they can obtain regular credit cards. Secured credit cards have your name on them and are used the same way as regular credit cards.
Use a Debit Card
Another option to consider is to use a debit card. Most banks these days issue debit cards to their customers when new bank accounts are opened.
Debit cards are typically used the same way as credit cards. Be sure to let the hotel representative know you are using a debit card instead of a credit card when making a reservation.
Pay with Cash
Another option to consider for booking a hotel room is to call and ask a hotel if they will hold a room for you (a courtesy hold) and allow you to pay with cash when you arrive.
While most chain hotels will not allow you to do this, it may be possible to pay with cash at some small independent (non-chain) hotels. These are sometimes referred to as “mom and pop” hotels. You will have to call and ask to find out.
This option does have some negatives to consider.
First, traveling with a large amount of cash can be risky. If you are traveling and you experience a loss or theft of your cash, for example, it could put you in a very difficult situation.
Another negative to consider with paying with cash is a hotel’s refund policy. If something happens after you have paid and you request a refund, you may not be able to get your cash back right away. Be sure you find out and understand a hotel’s refund policy if you are paying with cash so you won’t experience any surprises.
Use PayPal with Booking Sites
Yet another option to consider for those looking for how to book a hotel without a credit card is to pay for your room with PayPal.
Many people use PayPal to send funds electronically every day. Although most hotels do not accept PayPal as a direct form of payment, some online booking sites do allow you to use this form of payment at checkout. You will have to create a PayPal account and link your bank account to it to use this payment service.
Can You Book a Hotel with a Visa Gift Card?
You’ve probably seen them for sale in big box stores – prepaid Visa or MasterCard gift cards. They look just like credit cards and you can use them to make purchases at many different retail stores, restaurants, and other places. Since they look like credit cards and they are often issued by major credit card companies, it seems reasonable to assume that they could be used to book hotel rooms.
Unfortunately, you will most likely not be able to book a hotel room with a prepaid gift card. The reason why hotels do not accept gift cards for booking rooms is because the cards aren’t registered in anyone’s name. Anyone can purchase them. A hotel, therefore, has no way of knowing if there is any money on the card. It could be $5, $500, or nothing at all.
There Are No Guarantees
While booking a room without a credit card at a hotel is possible, it isn’t guaranteed. Each hotel will have its own policy on acceptable forms of payment other than credit cards. You may have to call around to several hotels before you find one that will work with you.
The simplest method on this list is to use a debit card that was issued to you when you opened your bank account. If you do use a debit card, be sure you have enough money in your account to cover your travel expenses before you go on a trip.
Finally, when calling to ask about booking a room without a credit card, always be polite to the people you talk to. It’s important to keep in mind that if you get a “no” from someone, it is most likely a reflection of the hotel’s policy and not something personal. Asking to speak to a supervisor is unlikely to change the situation.