Why I Hate Credit Cards: Hotel Incidental Policy

I hate credit cards with a passion. The more I walk through life trying not to use them, the more I hate them. My family and I drove to Florida late last week, which gave me the opportunity to find yet another reason to despise them. No matter how much I want to pay with cash, or at least with my debit card so the money comes immediately out of my checking account, businesses seem insistent in pushing me to use the demon plastic. As my wife and I planned our trip, we carefully budgeted our spending for each day. We ensured had saved enough funds to cover our projected spending for the trip. We withdrew cash for our day to day spending, and left money in our checking account for spending for which we planned to use our debit card. As we checked into our hotel at the end of our second day of travel I noted the following sign displayed prominently on the front desk: SleepInn The employee behind the counter explained that it usually takes about five business days for the hold to be removed. During that time period the held amount would be inaccessible. For a family that has laid out our trip in painstaking detail for budgeting purposes, having $100 removed from our checking account for a week throws a bit of a wrench into our spending plan. We’re trying to be financially responsible and avoid the temptation of overspending by not using credit cards. Yet this hotel is forcing me to break the emergency glass, and use one. The reason businesses do this is because customers are more likely to run their bank accounts close to zero than they are to have their credit cards close to the maximum credit limit. The hotel wants to be protected in the case some additional cost is incurred. Holding an additional amount on a debit card, or having a credit card number gives the business a better chance of getting money if there happens to be some sort of incident. There are several different incidental policies that are implemented by hotels:

  • Pay with however you’d like, but give a credit card number for incidentals.
  • Pay with debit/credit, incidentals charged if they incurred.
  • Pay with debit/credit, extra amount held for incidentals

When you’re traveling and will be staying in hotels, you may want to find out what the policy is before you decide to book your room. If you’re on a tight travel budget, it could make a huge difference. For me, I will favor businesses that use the second policy. Unless they have a reason, they can keep their hands off my money, and I can keep my credit card behind glass. Have you ever experienced an unexpected policy regarding a hold of funds on your debit card?ย  Did it cause you any problems?

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70 Responses to “Why I Hate Credit Cards: Hotel Incidental Policy”

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  1. Wow very sorry to hear this. I typically use my credit card for most purchases so this wouldn’t affect me, but I know others who do not use credit cards as a rule and this policy is really unfortunate.

    • Travis says:

      I think it would be better if they stated up front that they required a deposit to rent the room. At least this hotel posted a sign, most do not.

  2. Yeah we are a plastic society that’s for sure. I’m sorry the process wasn’t easier for you. ๐Ÿ™ What if for some reason someone wasn’t able to get a credit card?

    • Travis says:

      It’s certainly possible to rent the room without a credit card…but you end up having to have a “hold” on your debit account for 3-5 days. If they wanted to require a deposit, fine….but why it takes 3-5 days to get it back is beyond me. We have the ability to move money around instantly – they can take it out immediately, why can’t the put it back just as fast?

      • Jonathan says:

        That is the BANK’S policy, not the hotel’s.

        The bank want to be sure the merchant isn’t going to request payment on the authorization, before they release it.

        • Travis says:

          That may certainly be true, Jonathan, but it’s still not necessary. If a merchant can initiate a transaction that says “take money” and it occurs immediately, then the reverse (ie, release money) should be true…and it’s up to the merchant to initiate the release at the right time. There’s absolutely no reason why there should still be a hold on my money for days after my trip is over and I’m back at home sitting on my couch.

          • Hilary says:

            There isn’t a way for the merchant to “release at the right time.” Working at a hotel, it makes me so angry when guests cannot understand that the authorization is beyond our hands. Once we have checked you out that is our way to “initiate the release.” At that point it is up to the bank to release funds. The merchant DOES NOT have a button to release authorizations!

          • Travis says:

            That may be correct, Hillary….BUT, it IS the merchant’s choice to pre-charge for expenses that haven’t happened (and may not) happen yet. Also, yes, it is up to the banks to release funds…AND the technology exists for banks to release the funds immediately. They just choose not to do it. That’s why I will favor businesses that take my card, and only charge it if they need to.

          • Jennifer says:

            Calling the bank after you check out – or even before, in some cases – is your best bet to get that auth released sooner. I’ve seen them do it immediately when the guest calls them and asks them to do it. I called the bank myself and they told me they needed to talk to the guest also.

            The main problem I see with this authorization issue is that guests are often not aware of it. Some hotels put up a sign, but some, like mine, aren’t allowed to (although we just put one up today). Here’s the thing though: Often on that paper you sign when you check in, there is a brief note stating the authorization policy. Read what you sign or at least ask for a brief explanation of what you’re signing. Also, when you book the room and get the confirmation via e-mail, there is almost certainly an explanation of the authorization policy in that email. I’m looking at one for a hotel room I’ve booked in a few months and right here it states clearly what their hold policy is.

            I understand the frustration with it, but it’s only the hotel trying to make sure any and all expenses incurred by guests are covered.

        • TR says:

          … they also want to earn interest on YOUR money, by getting the overnight rate for it on each day they are holding it.

  3. Kim says:

    It is sad that we’ve come to that. I remember a few years ago, my Dad needed to rent a U-haul. My parents have no debt and had never had a credit card up to that point. They would not let him rent it without a credit card, even though he offered to pay cash. I see their point if he wrecked the truck, but it gets harder and harder to live without plastic, which makes it seem like not a big deal, and then people don’t pay attention like they should and end up in debt. We use our credit cards responsibly now, but I remember running into this a couple of times during debt payoff. Something to check for sure before you go.

    • Travis says:

      Wow, turning down business because he didn’t have a credit card….stupid. If they want to require a deposit, fine. But you should get it back immediately upon checkout.

      • Jennifer says:

        That is also something many hotels do. This is because guests will pay cash and then incur damages or something and the hotel has no way to get reimbursement. It costs something like $250 to have a room cleaned professionally if a guest smokes in a non-smoking room, for example. Hotels want to have some way to charge the guests responsible.

        • Travis says:

          I’d be all for giving them a deposit in any form they want, Jennifer, as long as it’s returned to me immediately upon checkout. Thanks for your comment!

        • TR says:

          Most guests behave well and can be trusted to pay whatever costs they incur. A few are reckless and irresponsible. Why should the majority of guests that behave properly be penalised and inconvenienced because of the minority that does not?

          In any case the “bad” customers will probably have their CCs at the limit, so the hotel won’t be able to charge them anyway.

          An occasional non-payment or un-recoverable cost of damage is part of the cost of doing business.

          There is an easy way around this. Just refuse to stay at places that have payment rules you dislike. Make sure to write to the management or owners telling them why you will not use their hotels. If all the trustworthy customers did this the hotels would soon change their rules.

  4. While I do not like that kind of policy, I can understand it from a business perspective. This policies are typically implemented after they have been “burned” too many times from people not having the funds. This is why I use credit cards, but you shouldn’t force people to use them.

    • Travis says:

      Either that, OR (as mentioned above) find a way to have it returned immediately upon checkout. One would think businesses would also find a way to make things as convenient for the customer as well!

  5. Travis, I wonder if hotels like this would accept a debit card for payment and also have on file a credit card for “additional costs.” They wouldn’t charge the credit card unless there are ‘incidentals’ that are realized after you vacate. Probably too complicated for most hotels to follow, but might be worth a try.

    • JMK says:

      For many years we’ve used our credit cards exclusively to earn flight mileage. But many years ago I can remember providing a credit card at check in and then at check out we actually paid the bill with a debit card. I didn’t check, but I’m sure it took several days for the hold to be removed from our credit card. We also used this process once when sharing a hotel room with relatives. One of us provided a credit card to check in, but when we all checked out we split the bill between different credit/debit cards.

      I recently learned that when I use my credit card at a gas pump, it automatically puts a hold on $100 (the maximum allowed for the fill up when paid at the pump) and then only charges you for the amount you need to fill the tank. The balance is released a few days later. I only discovered this process recently when I called the card company about another matter and she reviewed several recent charges with me and mentioned the $100 gas charge. My car can’t physically hold that much gas so I questioned her. She asked if I’d bought gas in the past 48hrs and I had ($40) and she said the reversal or release just hadn’t gone through yet.

      • Travis says:

        The interesting thing, JMK, is that the policies are all over the place. Some gas stations put a hold on funds at the pump, some do not. Some will let you give them one card # upon checkin, and pay with another, some will not. In this case (I checked) they charged my credit card immediately upon check in. For the exact amount of the room fee – no hold on additional funds. It’s something we as consumers have to be increasingly aware of and ask before we swipe, I guess.

  6. I remember trying to rent a car with boyfriend once and we couldn’t because he didn’t have a credit card. He had a debit card and made a six figure salary but no credit card, no car.

    • Travis says:

      That’s exactly when the system breaks down, Stefanie – You have people like your boyfriend and they wouldn’t rent a car. But then you have a guy that has $150 of credit left on a credit card (almost maxed out due to overspending) and he can!

  7. Hmm, to me this actually seems like a situation where credit cards can be very useful and good! The hotel gets to keep your credit card number on file so that they are protected, but you aren’t charged if you don’t incur any incidentals — everyone wins. Plus, if a hotel ever tries to charge you for something you didn’t do, you can get the credit card company to reverse the charge and get your money back. Much harder (if not impossible) to do that when you pay with debit.

    • JMK says:

      In addition to missing out on the credit card rewards, this is the main reason I never use my debit card any more. An incorrect charge to my credit card can be worked out after the vacation, but an accidental over charge to my debit card, or an accidental over charge on an auto bill pay and they charge you $500 not $50) can make a mess of your finances. I don’t want to be part of any transaction that impacts my bank account immediately and without my total control. Not ideal when you are standing at an ATM in a foreign country and the machine is telling you you’re over drawn when you know you shouldn’t be. I pay off my credit card on a weekly basis, but only after I’ve confirmed that the correct amount was charged. If there is any problem, my bank account is unaffected while I investigate and arrange a correction.

    • Travis says:

      The problem with his hotel, Quinn, is that I also had to PAY for my room with my credit card….and I didn’t want to. I wanted to pay with my debit card. I wouldn’t mind giving them a credit card account for incidentals that they wouldn’t charge unless needed (which wouldn’t happen), but i had to use the same form of payment for both in this case.

      • Andrew Jablonski says:

        Probably best to take your business elsewhere then. I agree with JMK.

        • Travis says:

          I likely will, Andrew….and I’ll call any any Hotels ahead of time from now on so I know what their policy is before I book! Thanks for stopping by!

      • Jennifer says:

        Almost all hotels will allow you to change MOP at checkout. Almost all of them. I don’t know why this particular one didn’t, and it’s always best to ask before you hand over any money, but as far as that goes, your experience was the exception.

        • Travis says:

          I honestly don’t care if I can change my method of payment…I want my funds – in whatever form given – to be returned immediately upon checkout.

  8. I work in the accounting office of a hotel, and I get so many calls about this. Don’t get me wrong, I totally get where you’re coming from. Having $100 held up would be a big deal to me too, but from the accounting perspective I love the incidental policy. Too many times guests will put down credit cards, knowing full well that nothing can be charged to them. That is why the policy – and authorizations – were started. To verify that the funds are there. However, this hotel treated you unfairly. Any decent hotel should allow you to put down between $20 and $50 in cash for incidentals, and if you do not charge anything to your room, be refunded that money upon check out. It is a nightmare when guests use debit cards too, because some banks hold onto those authorizations for longer. Typically, when the guest checks out, the $100 hold is removed, but depending on your bank, it could be held (by the bank, not the hotel) for 30 days! How crazy is that!

    • Travis says:

      That is crazy – 30 days! It’s interesting the finger pointing that goes on when someone digs into a situation like this….the bank points at the hotel, the hotel points at the bank. I would think it’s really the bank that’s not letting go of the hold. I think it’s stupid that we can charge an account immediately, but it takes 3-5 days to put it back. I agree with your assertion above….I’m 100% fine with needing a deposit, but the money should be back in my hands when I check out.

  9. We’ve had issues with Enterprise Rent-a-Car before. We will no longer do business with them because of their debit card policies. The biggest thing we’ve learned is to call in advance and get the details of the company’s policy before we book reservations.

    • Travis says:

      Rental car companies are all over the place with their policies too. My last car rental was with Hertz, and they allow rentals with a debit card, but would require a special deposit. I used my debit card, but they processed it like a credit card….so no deposit or hold was performed. LOL, I WIN!

  10. Luckily, we’ve never had an issue with this before, but I can totally see how it could be a huge pain in the tail. I’m’ not sure there’s a better way, though, because like Grayson said, the businesses need to cover their tails too. ๐Ÿ™

    • Travis says:

      Sure, businesses do need to cover their tails…..but here’s a question. Do we pay a deposit when we walk into Target just in case we drop something and break it? Do we have to show proof of ability to purchase something just in case an unforeseen incident occurs? Just something to ponder…

  11. That really is crappy! They’re allowed to put a hold on your real money that they’re not even entitled to? Nuts!

  12. I’ve never run into this before at a hotel or when book airfare, but we haven’t traveled recently. Crazy stuff.

    • Travis says:

      If you pay with a credit card, it could be that you would never notice because they didn’t put a hold on your account since they just had your number anyway – see policy 2 above. That would be my preference…except with my debit card.

  13. Since before we didn’t have a credit card and even now, but I think credit card is important too. My hubs usually travels and every time we do purchase a plane ticket and it’s a really big hassle for us. Like for an instance I saw a promo fare, but you need to have a credit card in order to pay directly the ticket otherwise you need to go to their office. But when I went to their office to purchase a ticket I was very disappointed because the agent told me that the ticket are already sold.

    • Travis says:

      Another example of being forced to use a particular method of payment. What happened to making things as convenient as possible for the customer??? Thanks for sharing, Marie!

  14. Sassy Mamaw says:

    I have had this exact thing happen to me when trying to use debit card for hotel stay in the past. They put a hold on my debit card, and I couldn’t use it for anything until it was taken off. I mean no shopping, no ATM withdrawals – nothing!

    Luckily, we were at a conference rather than vacation, because we had to borrow money from friends. Super embarrassing and annoying, too. Ever since then, I take my cash out ahead and pay my credit card in advance. Then use the credit card for the trip. This system has worked well, but you still have to own a credit card to do it.

    • Travis says:

      Great example of how business get their hands on our money without being upfront about their policies. If they’re going to ask for a deposit (and hold it), then that should be made abundantly clear. it would give me a chance to say, “No thanks, I’ll take my business elsewhere!” Thanks for sharing your story!

  15. Heywood says:

    Make use of rewards credit cards
    Charge on credit, pay it off when the bill comes, stick to a budget like
    you would if it was debit card, get a little reward back each month.

    We use some of our points for restaurant gift cards, date night dinners are free.

    • Travis says:

      That works for some people, Heywood….but given my past misuse of credit cards, I choose to not carry or use them anymore. Maybe one day…but right now I just don’t trust myself with them.

  16. Anita says:

    I hate incidental holds, they always blind side you, I have been charged $250 per night at some places and if you intend on staying a week it adds up pretty fast! It is the hotel’s way of forcing you to spend your money at their hotel by charging expenses to your room. I understand you get the money back if you do not incur incidentals but 3-5 business days may as well be a lifetime in terms of holiday timeframes.

    I do not understand the incessant need for credit cards over debit either? I emailed the hotel I am staying at in Beverly Hills and they said if I did not possess a credit card the hold on my debit card would be between $1000-3000 and cash would be a firm $3000. Lucky for me I do own a credit card so the hold will be $160 but could you imagine someone taking a $1000+ hold on your debit card for a 2 night stay?

    • Travis says:

      That’s nuts, Anita!!! I always thought it was only one amount they would hold…not a “per night” amount. YIKES! The odd thing I thought about the above is that they are asking the customers to tell them if they are using a debit card…what if I wouldn’t disclose that info, I don’t think they could tell the difference!

  17. RodC says:

    i still get asked for my personal card for “incidentals” when on company business.The office makes the reservation and sends the hotel their card authorization. I typically say “everything should be on the corporate account”yet they insist that i use another card for incidentals. And that the authorization is only for the room. On one occasion my card was hit everyday for $20 then removed. This went on for 2 weeks. Imagine my frustration when i get text alerts every time my card gets a transaction.
    More recently i caught a $1190 charge on another card i used for incidentals. Most places, that our company uses, run payment when the bill reaches $1000. Before my due date I usually go online to check my payment notice for the month. This time I find my balance has gone up 1200. I do a double check and find the hotel I am staying at has hit MY card for the bill!! The transaction had happened 10 days before i caught it. Adding text notifications to my new card also. . . . . . .

    • Travis says:

      Yikes, RodC! I have a company card for my business travel, so luckily I can use that for incidentals as well. I wonder if you can tell the office to authorize the card for incidentals? Business travel shouldn’t have to require you to use personal funds!!!

  18. Chris says:

    I agree with everything said here. I understand companies like hotels maybe needing to hold the money for an extra day just to assess whether or not any additional charges are warranted, but after that the hold should be taken off of your funds immediately. And there’s no reason why it can’t be done. I went through a similar situation not too long ago and used a debit card when getting a FREE room at a hotel. It might as well have been as if I paid because they put a hold on my funds without any real assurance that it would be released in a timely manner. Thankfully I was able to call up my debit card financial institution and when I asked how long will the hold be on my funds they said since it’s been 3 days they would release the money back to me immediately. They basically said the hotel was SOL since it didn’t put through any charges on my card within the first three days lol.

    • Travis says:

      Exactly, we HAVE the technology for a refund to go through as fast as a payment transaction – they just choose not to implement it! Thanks for reading, Chris!

  19. Jeffery says:

    First let me state that although the displayed signage at the front desk could be presented much better; the fact that this hotel gives you fair warning is much more that a lot of hotels offer. I’ve worked for two hilton brands and the policies are completely different at each property. The first property I was at was a Homewood Suites and their “incidental authorization” policy was completely dishonest. At this property regardless of using a CC or DC the property management system was set to automatically authorize each card for an undisclosed amount. There was no policy indicating that employees were supposed to inform of guests of this prior to arrival. There was actually a tendency to never inform the guests of this. The ridiculous thing here is that the extra authorization was undisclosed. It was set by our owners (Franchise property) and the staff could not dictate what the authorization was going to be. We basically were not allowed to tell the guests the amount their card was going to be authorized for; we would just indicate that their card could be additionally authorized for the “anticipated room and tax”. Basically they were signing a registration card that stated their card, whether debit or credit, could be authorized for twice the amount of the actual room and tax. For instance if your room is $99 per night and you’re staying two nights, your card “could” be authorized for $396. It was rare that the system asked for that much authorization but it usually averaged out to be $50 of extra authorization per night. The thing is the staff didn’t know what the exact amount would be. Really stupid and I hated working there. On to the next Hilton property, a Hampton Inn (again franchise property). At this property your card was authorized for only whatever your room and tax was. If room and tax were $110.96 your card was authorized for that amount. Even on a third party reservation (Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com) we never authorized the separate card that we got for incidentals. You need to understand that when you’re booking through a third party (Online travel broker) the actual hotel property has no form of payment directly from you. The guest pays the third party (Expedia, Hotels.com) and then the third party sends over a virtual credit card number that only covers the room and tax. That’s why hotels ask for this card for incidentals. I’ve witnessed numerous occurrences where the desk agent didn’t get a card for incidentals on a third party reservation, the guest went and smoked in the room, the hotel never founds out until after the guest has departed, and then the hotel itself is left putting a room out of order for a week. It works both ways but the best thing to do is simply call the hotel before even booking, or before even walking into the hotel and finding out what their policy is. It varies not only between brands, but by franchised owners of these brands. There is not set in stone corporate policy set in place by and major hotel brand.

    • Travis says:

      Great information, thanks for sharing, Jeffrey! I agree – the best thing to do is find out ahead of time what a hotel’s policy is. If they weren’t able to tell me how much they’d be holding on my card, I would take my business elsewhere.

  20. Clayton Holland says:

    I will NEVER use my credit card at a motel again. I noticed an extra $60 charge on my National Chain Motel stay in NC on my account and called them back. I was informed a housekeeper said some kind of a couch throw was missing. I told them I certainly didn’t take it but was referred to call the manager Monday morning. Regardless of how this plays out it is a lesson to me to never give anything but cash at a Motel. You can be accused of anything by a housekeeper as they seemed to be claiming of anything missing and ther goes your money. I’m not saying in my case this is the way it was, but in my opinion it just may be(possible)people with credit cards end up paying for the people who pay cash and take something. It sticks in my craw when people mess with my money. I do it enough I don’t need help in that department. Pay cash or keep rolling to another INN.

    • Travis says:

      We’re always at risk for those kinds of mistakes, Clayton – unfortunately. I’m with you, I wish we could just use cash all the time. I don’t think there are many that would accept just cash, unfortunately. We’re a world of plastic in some way, shape or form.

  21. jonathan says:

    You can hate credit cards all you want, but they are a tool. Just like a car. You can hate driving, but guess what? If you hate cars you have to deal with the consequences of not using them, ie. either walk/ride a bike everywhere or take public transportation.

    The same goes for Credit Cards. Don’t like them, fine. But you have to deal with the issues that arise from not having one, or refusing to use one.

    I don’t know how things work at every hotel, obviously it would be impossible for me to have worked at every hotel chain, but the places that I have worked have NO control over how the credit or debit card is processed. The desk agent swipes the card and YOUR choice of financial supply decides how that process occurs.

    If you give a credit card at check in, most hotels will authorize the card for the amount of the stay plus 20 percent for incidentals. This authorization verifies the available credit balance is available to cover the costs and you are in your room. Should you choose to use a debit card the bank will automatically take the amount of the authorization out of your available balance and place it in a “pending” folder so that you do not have access to spend the funds. Pretty cut and dry. Super simple.

    The idea of paying with cash for things like hotel rooms and car rentals is a joke. Are you taking yourself seriously. The car rental agency is giving you an entire car worth tens of thousands of dollars, but a $50.00 deposit should be fine. Are you serious? In a hotel room the combined cost of the bedding, pillows, TV, toilet, and other various items that you could steal or damage is at least in the hundreds, but a $50.00 deposit should be fine.

    These businesses are putting their commodities at your disposal and the only thing they ask is for the ability to insure that you do not damage or steal them, and this is too much for you.

    I would be curious what field of work you do, and whether or not you give away your goods or services with no guaranteed payment.

    • jonathan says:

      The only hotel that you are going to get to check into without a CC is going to come with strange stains, cockroaches, hookers and/or various other unsavory conditions.

      But then again, like I said, you have to accept the repercussions of not having, or not using a CC.

      Enjoy your cash payment world.

      • Travis says:

        If they require some sort of deposit, that’s fine. But as mentioned in previous comments, as soon as I check out and the transaction is complete – give me my money back. Let me give you an example: My friends and I rented a house for a week in Florida on vacation. We gave them a $1000 deposit upon checkin. Guess what happened when I checked out? The money was returned to me….IMMEDIATELY. The technology exists…there’s no reason why they should be able to keep a hold on my money for days after the entire transaction is over. Super Simple.

        • Travis says:

          BTW, I’m a software engineer, so I know a little bit about what’s possible technologically. But if you’re fine with banks, businesses and credit card companies holding on to your money when they have no reason to do so…well, enjoy that.

  22. Tara says:

    I just stayed at 3 Hilton Hotels and paid Cash! it was wonderful, no issues they even did not ask for a card for the incidentals.. I highly recommend Hampton s, and Hilton s. I even became a rewards member because of the great service. I think it is time Business work with people but alas they will not.. I don’t own a Credit Card or a Bank Card I deal in Cash.

  23. Wesley says:

    I got what the gist of your complaint is, but you have to look at it from a hotel and rental car companies perspective. They are allowing you to stay in a hotel room with hundreds of dollars of items in it (pillows, blankets, towels, tv) or renting you a car worth thousands of dollars. And while you may be a trustworthy person, it only takes ONE person to screw it up for everyone else.

    Plus,you being a software engineer, I don’t understand how a few hundred dollars hold is that big of a deal. Just let the authorization process come and go and you got your money back.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the biggest fan of that policy, but it’s fair.

    Maybe get a rewards credit card again with a low credit limit this time? like $750.

    • Travis says:

      I’m not sure you do understand the gist of my complaint. I completely understand the amount of damage a misbehaving person can do in a hotel room. BUT, why can’t they either a.) take my credit/debit card number and only charge it if there is a problem OR (in the case where they want to ensure that funds exists to pull from if there is damage) be able to fully refund my money IMMEDIATELY upon checkout. I know that the banks are involved here (covered in previous comments), but seriously, the technology exists. If they can take money from my account instantly, it can be put back instantly.

    • TR says:

      Why should everyone be inconvenienced because of the ONE person that screws up? The proper course is to assume that guests are trustworthy, but to puruse the few that damage rooms or steal stuff though the courts.

  24. anon says:

    I’m an American who lives overseas. Took my family back to the US earlier this year. Boy, is your banking system completely screwed up! I spoke to a couple of people who work in US banks and they agreed it’s well behind the rest of the world. We routinely travel through Europe and Asia and we’ve never had the problems we had in the US! 1) Our home bank put a hold on our card because we tried to use it at Target. Yes, this is our home bank’s problem – BUT the policy is in place because Target has been victim to so many cases of identity theft. So it’s also Target’s problem for not straightening out their mess. (Still, it would’ve been nice if the bank had told me when I called up to say I’d be in the US!) 2) This caused our credit card to be declined at the hotel because, while we’d already paid for the room, we hadn’t paid for parking. We paid cash for parking in order to get back into the room so we could Skype the bank and get our card re-activated. Talk about embarrassing! 3) At a gas station in Oregon, we had a $200 hold put on our debit card “just in case.” I understand hotels needing to cover for incidentals but gas stations?!?!?! We’d already paid; but the company still held on to $200 of our money for two weeks! That’s highway robbery! 3) But, because we’d never come across that before, we were convinced the gas station attendant had helped himself to a tip (Oregon doesn’t have self-serve – one of the things I love about my home state), and we panicked and cancelled my husband’s card (the one that was used for the transaction), but not before we moved almost all our money out of that account. That meant for the rest of the trip we were frantically counting pennies – and we are not in a bad financial position! It was an absolute nightmare. 4) As icing on top – When we got back to the airport we realised we’d used my husband’s card for the parking. We’d pre-paid the parking but that necessitated putting the credit or (in our case) debit card you used or parking into the machine when you arrived, and when you left, just for verification. It wasn’t until we were loading the bags into the car that he said, “Expletive deleted I’ve just realised I used my card to pay for the parking, I don’t know if they’ll take it now that it’s been cancelled.” By some stroke of genius he’d not destroyed it when I suggested we destroy it and throw it away, so we still had the card. It worked, but that was a panic we didn’t need (as well as several hundred dollars in parking fees if it hadn’t have worked).

    We’ve had fewer problems travelling through Burma and Cambodia and countries like that then we had in the US. Seriously, your banking system is messed up.

    • Travis says:

      I think you’ve summed up everything I hate about credit holds quite nicely. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your experiences (as painful as they may have been….)

  25. Andrew says:

    I always use cash for the hotel incidentals. I have never had an issue until today. I was booked at a Holiday Inn Express for a job interview. I called up to check what the incidental rate was. I was shocked to find out that it was a card or no room; cash was unacceptable.

  26. Lily says:

    I hate the incidental charges!
    I travel a lot for work where I have to stay in notes for mothers at s time! And for them swiping my card every single day for insidentals is a huge chunk of money everyday out of the week!
    It’s so easy for the hotel front desk to ask you for your card for these insidentals and then you have to wait for days and weeks to get it back!! Who ever thinks that’s ok for them to do this to people are just crazy.
    Iike I said I travel for months at the time so these insidentals are eating up my bank account.

  27. Todd Knight says:

    I think the types of businesses who have been allowed to get away with using the “incidentals” scam have not had what they are actually doing fully aired out with the general population–they just say take it or leave it. When you go to a movie, you are not required to put down a $100 deposit in case something happens to the room in which you watched your film (maybe somebody setting a fire). All of those other events where we only pay for the usage apply a strict usage-fee without requiring any hold or deposit to be collected if some bad event happens. If you do an exhaustive inventory of all the activities where you spend a usage-fee, you will notice that many of those could add on an additional fee just in case something goes wrong but have not up till now because the market will not bear it from all the competing businesses who do not apply the extra fee. Therefore, these “incidentals” businesses (hotels, car rentals, etc.) are only getting away with it because the customers are not standing up, speaking out across social media, and taking their business elsewhere. Many hotels I have stayed at in Asia do not require any card number or cash deposit, but they go over your room with a fine-toothed comb upon check-out! Also, the real issue that I did not see raised in any of the comments I read was “Why does the hotel have a business requirement to handle adequate room insurance to cover these ‘incidentals’?”!!! When you go through an art gallery with hundreds of thousands of dollars in extremely rare paintings, you pay an entrance fee and the art gallery pays insurance to cover damage. The exact same principle could and should apply to hotels and car rentals. It all falls back on the business looking for a way to shirk responsibility and have the customer pay the insurance money that they themselves should be paying.

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