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Why do you need a credit card for a hotel reservation?

When booking a trip, you may need to provide your hotel with credit card information in order to reserve a room and get set up in the system. There are many reasons why using a credit card is beneficial to both you and the hotel.

Do you need a credit card to pay for a hotel?

Hotels commonly require you to use a credit card to pay for your stay in order to:

  • Confirm validity of the reservation: Hotels want to know that you'll show up for your reservation and won't back out at the last minute. By taking your credit card information, hotels are able to charge you for cancellation fees and contact you in case of any changes.
  • Offset potential damages or theft: Hotels require a credit card on file in case of any damage to the room or if there are any missing items from the room. Even after the customer leaves, charges could be posted after checkout. 

    Hotels may require a security deposit to ensure that customers leave the room as they found it and respect the hotel property during their stay.

Benefits of paying for a hotel stay with a credit card

Earn rewards

By making purchases with hotel credit cards or travel rewards cards, customers can earn reward points. Those points can then be redeemed to cover future hotel stays, join loyalty programs and enjoy perks such as free Wi-Fi, late checkout times and complimentary breakfast.

Keep your credit card on file

By keeping a credit card on file, hotel customers can pay for additional charges such as hotel meals, snack bar purchases and on-property services that aren't covered by their room payments. Customers can also adjust their reservations if they have to add more nights or upgrade their stay.

Hotel reservations: credit card vs. debit card or cash

Using a credit card to book your hotel stay may be better than using a debit card or cash. Some hotels do accept debit cards, but they may request the security deposit in full up-front to cover other expenses such as incidentals and resort fees. Fewer hotels allow you to pay for your stay in cash, and those that do may charge a larger security deposit fee than they would if you booked with a credit card.

With a credit card, the hotel places a hold on your card. Similar to credit cards, if you use a debit card, a hold is also placed on the card but the money isn't withdrawn from the account.

Hotel expenses: travel credit card vs. hotel credit card

Both hotel credit cards and general travel credit cards offer rewards that may båe redeemed for your current or future stays.

Hotel credit card

You can use hotel credit cards to earn points and redeem them for hotel stays and other travel expenses. If you use your hotel credit cards for purchases within that hotel chain, you may earn points at a higher rate. Hotel credit cards also offer perks that may include free nights, complimentary entrance into loyalty programs and access to special events.

Travel credit card

General travel cards allow you to redeem points for stays at hotels and are not typically affiliated with any particular chain. Some travel credit cards also offer other travel-related perks like annual travel credits, airport lounge access and complimentary hotel room upgrades.

Using a credit card to book your hotel stay can be a good option for both parties involved. The hotel may gain a sense of security and the customer may have the opportunity to earn perks and benefits. Consider using a travel credit card or hotel credit card to earn points and maximize the potential rewards for your trip.

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