When Does A Hotel Charge Your Card?

Booking a hotel stay can be exciting, but the financial aspect can also cause some anxiety. Many travelers wonder exactly when a hotel will charge their card for the room reservation. If you’ve ever felt confused about hotel payment policies, this comprehensive guide will explain everything you need to know.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Hotels usually charge a small hold fee at booking, take the full payment at check-in or check-out, and may add other smaller charges during your stay.

The Timing of Hotel Charges

When booking a hotel, it’s important to understand when and how the hotel will charge your credit card. Here is a breakdown of the different timing scenarios:

Hold Fee at Booking

Some hotels may place a hold on your credit card at the time of booking. This is often done to ensure that the card is valid and has sufficient funds to cover the reservation. The hold fee is usually a small amount and will be released once you have completed your stay.

It’s important to note that while the hold fee may temporarily affect your available credit, it is not an actual charge.

Full Payment at Check-In or Check-Out

Many hotels will require full payment at the time of check-in or check-out. This means that your credit card will be charged for the total amount of your stay, including any applicable taxes and fees. Some hotels may also offer the option to prepay for your reservation, in which case your card will be charged prior to your arrival.

Incidentals During Your Stay

In addition to the room rate, hotels often charge for incidentals such as room service, minibar items, or parking fees. These charges are typically made during your stay and may be added to your final bill at check-out.

It’s a good idea to review the hotel’s policy on incidentals and inquire about any additional charges that may apply.

It’s important to read the terms and conditions of your reservation carefully to understand the hotel’s specific payment policies. Keep in mind that different hotels may have different policies, so it’s always a good idea to check with the hotel directly if you have any questions or concerns.

For more information on hotel charges and payment policies, you can visit Hotel News Resource, a trusted source for hotel industry news and insights.

Understanding Hotel Authorization Holds

When you book a hotel room, you may be required to provide your credit card information. This is a common practice in the hospitality industry to secure your reservation and ensure that you have a valid form of payment.

However, you may have wondered when hotels actually charge your card and what an authorization hold is.

What is an Authorization Hold?

An authorization hold, also known as a pre-authorization or a pending charge, is a temporary hold placed on your credit card by the hotel. It is a way for hotels to verify the validity of your card and ensure that you have sufficient funds to cover your stay or any additional charges.

During the check-in process, the hotel will typically place an authorization hold for the total amount of your stay, including taxes and any additional fees. This hold essentially “reserves” the funds on your card, making them unavailable for other purchases.

It’s important to note that an authorization hold is not an actual charge. The hold simply sets aside the funds on your card, but the hotel will not collect the money unless you fail to cancel your reservation within the specified cancellation period or incur additional charges during your stay.

How Long Do Holds Last?

The duration of an authorization hold can vary depending on the hotel and their policies. In most cases, the hold will last until you check out of the hotel and settle your final bill. Once you check out, the hold will be released, and the actual charges will be processed.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that the release of the hold does not mean that the funds will be immediately available in your account. Depending on your bank’s processing time, it may take a few days for the hold to be removed and the funds to become accessible again.

Impact on Your Available Credit

While an authorization hold is in place, the funds being held will appear as a pending charge on your credit card statement. This means that your available credit will be temporarily reduced by the amount of the hold.

It’s important to keep this in mind when managing your finances to avoid any potential overdrafts or declined transactions.

If you have concerns about the impact of an authorization hold on your available credit, it’s always a good idea to contact your bank or credit card issuer for more information. They can provide you with specific details about their policies and any potential fees or penalties associated with authorization holds.

Understanding how hotel authorization holds work can help you better manage your finances and avoid any surprises when it comes to your credit card statements. Remember to review your charges upon check-out and keep track of any pending holds to ensure a smooth and hassle-free experience during your hotel stay.

Avoiding Unexpected Hotel Charges

When it comes to staying at a hotel, unexpected charges can quickly put a damper on your travel budget. To avoid any surprises, it’s important to understand when and how hotels charge your credit card.

By following a few simple steps, you can ensure a smooth check-out process without any unexpected expenses.

Double Check the Hotel’s Policy

Before making a reservation, it’s crucial to double-check the hotel’s policy regarding payment and charges. Most hotels will require a valid credit card at the time of booking to hold the reservation, but the actual payment may not be processed until you check out.

However, some hotels may have a pre-authorization policy where they temporarily hold a certain amount on your card to cover potential expenses.

Pro tip: To avoid any confusion, it’s always a good idea to call the hotel directly or visit their website to clarify their payment policy. This will help you understand when exactly your card will be charged and if there are any specific conditions or fees associated with it.

Use a Specific Credit Card

If you’re concerned about potential hotel charges, consider using a specific credit card solely for your travel expenses. This way, you can easily track your hotel transactions and have a dedicated card for any incidental charges that may arise during your stay.

It also helps to keep your personal credit card separate from your travel expenses, providing an added layer of security.

Pro tip: Look for a credit card that offers travel rewards or benefits, such as hotel points or travel insurance. This can help offset any charges and enhance your overall travel experience.

Watch Out for Incidentals

One common source of unexpected charges at hotels is incidentals. These are additional expenses that can be charged to your room, such as room service, mini-bar items, or spa services. To avoid any surprises, it’s essential to review the hotel’s policy on incidentals and keep track of your expenses throughout your stay.

Pro tip: Take a few minutes to go through your final hotel bill before checking out. This will give you an opportunity to dispute any incorrect charges and ensure that you are only paying for the services you have actually used.

By following these steps and staying informed about the hotel’s policies, you can avoid unexpected charges and enjoy a stress-free hotel stay. Remember, it’s always better to be proactive and clarify any doubts or concerns before checking in, so you can focus on making the most of your travel experience.


Knowing when to expect hotel charges to your card can give you peace of mind and help you avoid financial surprises. Now that you understand the standard policies for holds, payment, and incidentals, you can budget accordingly and enjoy your hotel stays. Safe travels!

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