Travel Tips

Travel Tip: Using a Credit Card When You Check In to a Hotel

deskWhen you check in to a hotel, you’re probably already used to the routine.

You walk up to the front desk and announce yourself as having a reservation.

Generally, the front desk clerk will ask you to provide a valid form of identification as well as your credit card.

You may even see him swipe the card. That’s where trouble can start.

What you may not know is the hotel will then begin blocking charges on your card.

These charges can equal as much as the total price of your room, multiplied by the number of days you’ll be there. In some cases, it’s even more.

If you’re using a credit card with a pre-set spending limit, you might be in for a big and embarrassing surprise.

If you use your card at a store or restaurant, you might discover that it’s been maxed out by those hotel charges.

Even if you never spent that amount at the hotel, it may take up to seven businesses days to get those charges removed.

If you’re using a debit card to check in—and you should never do that, by the way—the pain is even more intense.

It can often take longer to get that money back into your checking account.

Let the hotel know that they can record your credit card account number, but insist on knowing what the blocked charges are—and whether they are negotiable.

In many cases, the clerk won’t even swipe the card if you complain up front.

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