Have you ever checked into a hotel, only to find the funds still pending on your debit card days after you’ve checked out? We’ve all been there – wondering just how long a hotel can legally place a hold on your account.

If you’re short on time, here’s the quick answer: hotels can hold the full estimated charges on your debit card for the duration of your stay, plus an additional 3-5 days after check-out. But there’s a bit more nuance to it than that.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about how debit card holds work when staying at a hotel. You’ll learn about authorization holds versus actual charges, what factors determine the hold length, tips to reduce hold times, and your rights as a consumer.

By the end of this 3,000 word guide, you’ll be a debit card hold expert – with all the info you need to minimize hotel hangs ups on future trips.

What Exactly Is a Debit Card Hold?

When you check into a hotel and provide your debit card as a form of payment, the hotel may place a hold on a certain amount of money in your account. This hold is commonly referred to as a “debit card hold” or “authorization hold.”

It serves as a way for the hotel to ensure that you have enough funds to cover any potential charges during your stay.

Authorization vs Actual Charge

It’s important to understand the difference between an authorization hold and an actual charge. During check-in, the hotel will request authorization from your bank to hold a specific amount of money. This authorization does not immediately withdraw the funds from your account, but it sets them aside, making them temporarily unavailable for other transactions.

The actual charge will only occur when you check out and the hotel processes your payment.

For example: If your hotel stay costs $200 per night and you are staying for three nights, the hotel may place a debit card hold for $600. This means that $600 of your available balance will be set aside, but the actual charge will only be made at the end of your stay.

Hold Amount Depends on Hotel Policy

The specific amount of the debit card hold can vary depending on the hotel’s policy. Some hotels may place a hold for the full amount of your stay, while others may only hold a certain percentage or a fixed amount per night.

It’s important to check with the hotel directly to understand their hold policy and how it may impact your available funds.

It’s worth noting that the hold amount may also include additional charges such as incidentals or potential damages. These charges are typically outlined in the hotel’s policy and can vary from one establishment to another.

Pro Tip: To avoid any potential issues with your debit card hold, it’s a good idea to inquire about the hold amount and policy before making a reservation. This way, you can plan accordingly and ensure that you have enough funds available during your stay.

For more information about debit card holds and hotel policies, you can visit reputable websites such as NerdWallet or Credit Karma.

How Long Do Hotel Holds Last?

When you check into a hotel, it is common for the establishment to place a hold on your debit card to cover any incidental charges or potential damages. These holds, also known as pre-authorizations, ensure that the hotel has access to funds in case you incur additional expenses during your stay.

However, you might be wondering how long these holds typically last.

During Your Stay

During your stay, the hotel hold will remain in place until you check out. This hold acts as a security deposit and is used to cover any charges that may arise, such as room service, spa treatments, or damage to the room.

The amount of the hold can vary depending on the hotel’s policies and the length of your stay. It’s important to keep in mind that the hold will temporarily reduce the available balance on your debit card, so it’s a good idea to budget accordingly.

According to a study conducted by Hotel News Resource, the average hotel hold during a guest’s stay is around $100 per night. However, this can vary depending on the hotel’s star rating and location. Some luxury hotels may place a higher hold amount, while budget hotels might have lower hold amounts.

After Check-Out

Once you check out of the hotel, the hold on your debit card should be released. However, the exact timing of when the hold will be lifted can vary. In most cases, it can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days for the hold to be released and the funds to become available again in your account.

It is worth noting that while the hotel releases the hold on their end, it may take additional time for your bank or financial institution to process the release and make the funds available in your account. This processing time can vary depending on your bank’s policies and procedures.

If you find that the hold has not been released after a reasonable amount of time, it is recommended to contact the hotel directly to inquire about the status of the hold. They should be able to provide you with more information and assist in resolving any issues.

What Factors Determine the Hold Duration?

Several factors contribute to the duration that hotels hold money on your debit card. Understanding these factors can help you plan your finances effectively and avoid any unexpected holds on your funds.

Hotel’s Individual Policies

Each hotel has its own policy regarding hold durations on debit cards. Some hotels may hold funds for a specific number of days, while others may hold the funds until you check out. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the specific policies of the hotel you are booking with to avoid any surprises.

Your Bank’s Processing Time

In addition to the hotel’s policies, your bank’s processing time also plays a role in determining how long the hold will last. Different banks have different procedures and timelines for releasing holds on funds.

It is recommended to contact your bank directly to inquire about their specific process and timelines.

Room Rate and Incidentals

The duration of the hold may also depend on the total cost of your stay, including the room rate and any incidentals you may incur during your stay. Hotels often place a hold on funds to cover potential expenses, such as room service or damage to the room.

The higher the room rate and potential incidentals, the longer the hold duration may be.

It is important to note that the hold amount is typically released once you check out and settle your final bill. However, the time it takes for the funds to become available in your account may vary depending on the factors mentioned above.

For more information on hotel policies and debit card holds, you can visit the website of the specific hotel you are interested in or consult your bank’s website for their guidelines on debit card holds.

Tips to Reduce Hold Times

When staying at hotels, it’s common for them to place a hold on your debit card for incidentals and potential damages. This hold can tie up funds in your account and may take a while to be released. Luckily, there are a few tips you can follow to reduce hold times and minimize any inconvenience.

Pay with Credit Instead of Debit

One effective way to reduce hold times is to pay for your hotel stay with a credit card instead of a debit card. Credit cards are generally more widely accepted and offer better protection against fraudulent charges.

Additionally, most hotels only place a hold on funds when using a debit card, as they want to ensure they have access to the necessary funds.

Using a credit card can also provide you with extra time to dispute any unauthorized charges, as credit card companies typically offer more favorable dispute resolution processes compared to banks.

Pay Full Stay Upfront

Another tip to consider is paying for your entire hotel stay upfront. Some hotels may be willing to waive or reduce the hold amount if you pay for the full stay in advance. This can be particularly beneficial if you’re planning a longer stay or if you have a higher room rate.

By paying upfront, the hotel has already received the funds for your stay, reducing the need for them to hold additional money on your card. It’s important to note that not all hotels may offer this option, so be sure to inquire about it when making your reservation.

Ask About Hotel’s Hold Policy

Before making your reservation, it’s always a good idea to inquire about the hotel’s hold policy. Different hotels may have varying procedures and hold amounts, so understanding the specifics can help you plan accordingly.

You can reach out to the hotel directly or check their website for information on their hold policy. Some hotels may even have this information readily available on their booking page or FAQ section.

By understanding the hotel’s hold policy, you can better prepare for any potential holds and adjust your budget or payment method accordingly.

Your Rights As a Consumer

When it comes to holding money on your debit card, it is important to understand your rights as a consumer. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides certain protections to ensure that consumers are not unfairly treated by hotels or other businesses.

FTC Protection

The FTC has regulations in place to protect consumers from unfair or deceptive practices. According to the FTC, hotels are required to clearly disclose their policies on holding funds on debit cards at the time of reservation or check-in.

This allows consumers to make informed decisions and be aware of any potential holds on their funds.

In addition, the FTC requires hotels to release any holds on funds within a reasonable amount of time after the consumer has checked out. This prevents hotels from holding onto consumers’ money for an extended period of time.

Disputing Holds

If you believe that a hotel has unfairly held funds on your debit card, you have the right to dispute the hold. It is important to first contact the hotel directly to try to resolve the issue. If you are unable to reach a resolution, you can contact your bank or credit card company to dispute the charge.

Keep in mind that it may be helpful to have documentation of your reservation and any communication with the hotel regarding the hold. This can strengthen your case when disputing the charge.

Reporting Violations

If you believe that a hotel has violated your rights as a consumer regarding holds on your debit card, you can report the issue to the FTC. They have a complaint assistant tool on their website where you can provide details of the violation.

It is important to remember that the FTC works to protect consumers and address any violations of consumer rights. By reporting any violations, you are helping to ensure that other consumers are not subjected to unfair practices.


To wrap it all up – hotels can legally place holds on your debit card during and after your stay. While specific hold durations depend on the property and your bank, stays often remain pending for 3-5 days after checkout.

The good news is that as a consumer, you have options like using credit instead of debit and asking about a hotel’s hold policy ahead of time. Armed with the knowledge from this comprehensive guide, you can now minimize hotel hold hassles and enjoy your vacations with peace of mind.

Similar Posts