How To Use A Debit Card For Hotel Stays

by SharonKurheg

Debit cards have been around since the mid-1960s. They are, of course, similar to a credit card, but unlike a credit card, the money for a person’s purchases must be in the cardholder’s bank account at the time of a purchase. The money is then immediately transferred directly from that account to the merchant’s account to pay for the purchase.

Although debit cards’ development varied from country to country over time, their ability to be interchangeable between countries began in the mid-2000s.

Some people prefer to not use their credit cards for all purchases, or, for a variety of reasons, may not even have a credit card. They may, however, have a debit card. Unfortunately, that might cause issues for certain purchases.

We’re already gone over how to use a debit card for car rentals. Is that process about the same as using one for a hotel? Not surprisingly, it depends.

The following are the specific policies for the major hotel brands.

Making A Reservation

In general, these first 4 brand accepts debit cards for making a reservation. Keep in mind that although a brand may say the accept debit cards, individual owners of some hotels may still not accept debit cards for deposit or payment; confirm with said hotel for specifics.

  • Best Western: Credit cards are required for online reservations. Exact rules vary by property, but you can usually make a phone reservation (800) 564-2515 without a credit card, as well as pay by an alternate (non-credit card, such as debit card) method in person at check-in.
  • Hilton: Debit cards are accepted as a guarantee when booking directly through Hilton’s website. Payment can be made via debit or credit card.
  • Marriott: Debit cards are accepted at check-in. Regardless of what type of card you use (credit or debit), your card-issuing bank will place a hold for the room and tax charges, any applicable resort fees, plus an amount for incidentals per day for the entire stay (the amount varies by location). Payment can be made via debit or credit.
  • Motel 6: Some (heads up: not all) Motel 6 properties require some sort of plastic upon check-in, but debit or bank card is accepted as well as credit. Payments are accepted by those methods as well as by cash or traveler’s check. However keep in mind that advance payment deposits via credit card guarantee, check or wire transfer are required for reservations with 10 or more rooms.

The following hotels generally do not allow debit cards to be used for reservations:

  • Hyatt: You must use a credit card for all reservations made through Hyatt’s website.
  • Radisson: Both Radisson Americas and Radisson Hotels only accept credit cards. Debit cards are not accepted.
  • Wyndham: Credit cards are required for reservations made online.

Note: Although Hyatt, Radisson and Wyndham properties generally DON’T accept debit cards for reservations, Orbitz, an OTA, does. So if you have your heart set on a particular hotel owned by one of those 3, Orbitz could be a workaround.

Checking In/Payment

Just because you’ve made a reservation with a debit card, it doesn’t mean that you’re home free. Many hotels require a credit card at check-in, not only for payment for your stay, but also for a deposit for incidentals.

Fortunately, many of those hotels are willing to work with their guests who don’t have a credit card – they may accept cash in the amount of the deposit. Or they could be willing to put a hold on your debit card.

Check with your hotel before your stay to confirm what alternate forms of payment they’ll accept. But also make sure how much your spending limit is (per day, month, etc.) on your debit card before going in this direction – that hotel security hold deposit could be several hundred over even upwards of $1,000 and could put you over your spending limit, make you incur overdraft fees, etc. So have a plan in your pocket (i.e. calling your bank, having cash , etc.) to avoid this from happening.

Also keep in mind that this hold on your debit card may not be released until several days, or even a week or two after you’ve checked out (heads up that if you’ve paid the hold with cash, you’ll get that back immediately).

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