Booking a hotel room often involves providing your credit card details upfront. You may wonder – how much is the hotel actually going to charge to your card? Will they place a hold for the full stay amount or just a portion of it?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Hotels typically place a hold on your credit card during check-in that covers the cost of the entire stay plus an additional amount to allow for incidentals. The exact hold amount can vary by property.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about hotel credit card holds, including:

Understanding Credit Card Holds at Hotels

When you check into a hotel, you may notice that the front desk asks for your credit card and places a hold on a certain amount of money. This is known as a credit card hold, and it’s a common practice in the hospitality industry.

Understanding how credit card holds work can help you avoid any surprises when it comes to your finances.

What is a credit card hold?

A credit card hold is a temporary authorization placed on your credit card by the hotel. It serves as a way for the hotel to ensure that you have enough funds to cover any potential charges during your stay, such as room service or damage to the room.

The hold amount is typically a predetermined sum or a percentage of your total reservation cost.

For example: If you book a hotel room for $200 per night and plan to stay for three nights, the hotel may place a hold of $600 on your credit card.

Difference between an authorization and a charge

It’s important to understand that a credit card hold is not the same as a charge. When a hotel places a hold on your credit card, they are not actually taking the money from your account. Instead, they are reserving that amount for a certain period of time, typically until you check out.

For instance: Let’s say you have a credit limit of $2,000 on your card. If the hotel places a hold of $600, you’ll still have $1,400 available for other purchases.

On the other hand, when you check out, the hotel will charge your credit card for the actual amount you owe, which may be less than the hold amount if you didn’t use any additional services or cause any damage.

Holds place a temporary block on funds

While credit card holds are temporary, it’s important to keep in mind that they can tie up a portion of your available credit. This means that the hold amount won’t be accessible for other purchases until the hold is released.

Typically: Hotels will release the hold within a few days after you check out, but it can take longer depending on your bank’s processing time. It’s a good idea to check with your bank or credit card issuer to understand their specific hold release policies.

Understanding credit card holds at hotels can help you manage your finances better while traveling. It’s always a good idea to inquire about the hold amount and release timeline at the time of check-in, so you can plan accordingly and avoid any unexpected financial constraints during your stay.

How Much Hotels Hold on Your Card

When you check into a hotel, you may be required to provide a credit card for incidentals and room charges. But how much do hotels actually hold on your card? Let’s take a closer look.

Full stay cost plus a buffer for incidentals

Hotels typically hold the full cost of your stay on your credit card as a preauthorization. This ensures that they have the funds to cover your room charges. In addition to the room cost, hotels also hold a buffer amount for incidentals such as room service, minibar charges, and damages.

This buffer is meant to protect the hotel in case you incur any additional charges during your stay.

Buffer is often $50-$100 per night

The buffer amount varies from hotel to hotel, but it is commonly around $50 to $100 per night. This means that if you are staying for multiple nights, the hotel will hold a larger amount on your card to cover potential incidentals.

It’s important to note that the buffer is not an actual charge, but a temporary hold on your credit card. The hold is released when you check out and any applicable charges are settled.

Policies differ across brands and properties

It’s worth mentioning that hotel policies regarding credit card holds can vary across different brands and properties. Higher-end hotels may hold a larger buffer amount compared to budget accommodations.

Additionally, some hotels may have different policies for different room types or for guests with special requests. It’s always a good idea to check with the hotel directly or review their website for specific information regarding credit card holds.

Factors That Influence Hold Amounts

When it comes to hotel reservations, many travelers are often puzzled by the amount that hotels put on hold on their credit cards. The hold amount can vary significantly depending on several factors. Understanding these factors can help you plan your budget and avoid any surprises during your stay.

Here are some key factors that influence hold amounts:

Room rate and length of stay

The room rate and length of stay are two major factors that hotels consider when determining the hold amount. Generally, the higher the room rate, the larger the hold amount. This is because hotels want to ensure that they have enough funds to cover any potential incidentals or damages.

Similarly, if you’re staying for a longer duration, the hold amount may be higher to account for any additional charges that may accrue during your stay.

Hotel location and status level

The location of the hotel and your status level with the hotel’s loyalty program can also impact the hold amount. Hotels in popular tourist destinations or upscale neighborhoods may require a larger hold amount due to the higher cost of living in those areas.

Additionally, if you have a higher status level with the hotel’s loyalty program, you may be eligible for perks such as complimentary upgrades or amenities. In such cases, the hold amount may be higher to cover the potential cost of these additional benefits.

If booking prepaid vs pay-at-hotel

Whether you book your hotel stay prepaid or pay-at-hotel can also affect the hold amount. If you book a prepaid rate, where you pay for your stay in advance, the hold amount may be lower as the hotel has already received payment for the room.

On the other hand, if you choose to pay at the hotel, the hold amount may be higher as the hotel needs to ensure that they have enough funds to cover the cost of your stay.

It’s important to note that hold amounts are not the same as charges. The hold is simply a temporary authorization to ensure that the hotel can collect payment for any additional expenses you may incur during your stay.

Once you check out and settle your final bill, the hold amount will be released back to your credit card.

To get specific information about hold amounts for a particular hotel, it’s always best to check the hotel’s website or contact their customer service directly. This will give you a clear understanding of what to expect and help you plan your finances accordingly.

When Hotels Release Holds on Your Credit Card

When you check into a hotel, it is common for the hotel to place a hold on your credit card to cover potential incidental charges or damages. This hold is typically released after you check out and settle your final bill.

However, the exact timing of when the hold will be released can vary depending on the hotel’s policies and your credit card issuer.

After checkout when final bill is settled

Once you have checked out of the hotel and settled your final bill, the hotel will typically release the hold on your credit card. This means that the funds that were being held will become available again for you to use.

It is important to note that the release of the hold does not necessarily mean that the charge has been processed and posted to your credit card account. It may take a few days for the charge to appear on your statement.

Can take up to 10 business days

In some cases, it may take up to 10 business days for the hold to be released on your credit card. This can be frustrating if you are waiting for the funds to become available again. However, it is important to remember that this is a standard practice in the hotel industry and is done to protect the hotel from any potential losses.

During busy periods, such as holidays or special events, it is not uncommon for hotels to experience delays in releasing holds on credit cards. This is due to the high volume of transactions they are processing during these times.

If you are concerned about the hold on your credit card, it is always a good idea to contact the hotel directly to inquire about their policies and the estimated time frame for the release of the hold.

Disputing invalid charges to remove holds

If you believe that there are invalid charges on your final bill and you are unable to resolve the issue with the hotel directly, you can contact your credit card issuer to dispute the charges. If the credit card issuer determines that the charges are indeed invalid, they can work with the hotel to remove the hold from your credit card.

It is important to keep in mind that disputing charges can take time and may require you to provide documentation or evidence to support your claim. It is always a good idea to carefully review your final bill before checking out of the hotel to ensure that all charges are accurate and valid.

For more information on hotel policies regarding credit card holds, you can visit the Hotel Business website, where you can find articles and resources related to the hotel industry.

Strategies for Minimizing Holds and Fees

When it comes to booking a hotel, understanding the hold policy and potential fees on your credit card is crucial. Here are some strategies to help minimize holds and fees:

Pay with debit card instead of credit

One way to avoid holds on your credit card is to use a debit card instead. Unlike a credit card, which may have a hold placed on it for incidentals and potential damages, a debit card typically only allows you to spend the amount of money you have available in your bank account.

It’s important to note, however, that some hotels may still place a hold on your debit card, so it’s always a good idea to confirm their policy beforehand.

Book direct instead of third-party site

Booking your hotel directly with the hotel’s website or calling their reservation line can often help minimize holds and fees. Third-party booking sites may sometimes require additional authorizations or hold larger amounts on your credit card.

By booking directly, you can have more control over the payment process and potentially avoid any unnecessary holds or fees.

Call ahead to ask about hold policy

Prior to making a reservation, it’s a good idea to call the hotel directly and inquire about their hold policy. Each hotel may have different policies and procedures when it comes to holds on credit cards.

By speaking with a representative, you can better understand how much they will hold on your card, how long the hold will last, and any potential fees associated with it. This information can help you plan your finances accordingly and avoid any surprises upon check-in.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to review the terms and conditions of your reservation and understand the hotel’s hold policy before booking. By being proactive and following these strategies, you can help minimize holds and fees on your credit card, ensuring a smoother and more enjoyable hotel stay.


Understanding exactly how much hotels hold on your card can prevent payment problems during and after your stay. While hold amounts vary, hotels typically place a block on the full estimated stay total plus a buffer for incidentals. Holds are removed after checkout but can take some time to clear.

To minimize holds, consider paying with debit instead of credit or checking a property’s authorization policy in advance.

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