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Booking a hotel stay often requires giving your credit card information upfront. But when exactly does the hotel charge your card for the room and various fees?

Hotels generally charge deposits upon booking and the remaining balance after checkout. However, the timeline varies based on the hotel’s payment policies, your booking details, and the type of charges.

This guide examines when hotels make charges to your card, what influences the timing, and tips for managing payments.

Hotel Booking Payment Methods

When it comes to booking a hotel, one of the most important aspects to consider is the payment method. Different hotels offer various options for guests to pay for their stay, ranging from credit cards to cash. Understanding these payment methods can help you plan your trip and ensure a smooth check-in process. In this article, we will break down the most commonly used hotel booking payment methods.

Credit Cards

Credit cards are by far the most widely accepted payment method in the hotel industry. They offer convenience and security for both the guests and the hotel. When you book a hotel room with a credit card, the hotel will typically charge a hold on your card to secure the reservation.

This hold is usually released after you check out and pay the final bill. It’s important to note that some hotels may charge a deposit upfront or require a pre-authorization on your card to cover any incidental expenses during your stay. This helps protect the hotel in case of damages or extra charges.


While credit cards are the most common payment method, some hotels still accept cash. Paying with cash can be convenient if you prefer not to use a credit card or if you’re traveling without one.

However, it is important to check with the hotel in advance to see if they accept cash payments and what their policies are. Some hotels may require a cash deposit upon check-in, which will be refunded upon check-out if there are no additional charges.

It’s also worth noting that paying with cash may limit your ability to dispute any charges in case of a problem.

Other Options

In addition to credit cards and cash, some hotels offer alternative payment methods. These can include online payment platforms like PayPal or mobile payment apps. These options can be convenient for guests who prefer to use digital payment methods or who do not have access to a credit card. It’s important to check with the hotel in advance to see if they accept these alternative payment methods and what their policies are.

Remember, when booking a hotel, it’s always a good idea to check the hotel’s website or call ahead to inquire about their payment methods. By understanding the hotel’s policies and preparing accordingly, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free check-in process. Now that you know more about hotel booking payment methods, you can confidently plan your next trip!

Types of Charges and Timing

When it comes to hotel charges, understanding the different types and their timing can help you better manage your finances. Let’s break down the various charges you may encounter during your stay.

Booking Deposits and Holds

Many hotels will require a deposit at the time you make a reservation. This deposit amount is determined by the hotel’s policy, but is commonly anywhere from the full cost of one night’s stay to the total stay.

Here’s some more detail on typical booking deposits/holds:

  • Deposit amount – Typically a percentage of the full stay cost or the 1st night. This temporarily holds those funds.
  • Timing – Deposits are charged when you initially book the reservation, before your stay.
  • Purpose – The deposit guarantees your room and covers a cancellation or no-show.
  • Cancellation – If you cancel in accordance with the cancellation policy, the deposit is refunded. If you cancel too late or don’t show, you forfeit the deposit.
  • At check-in – The deposit may be applied to the full stay charges or it may continue to hold those funds until check out.
  • After stay – If applied to your stay, any remainder of the deposit will be released after you check out. If it was held separately, it will also be released.

So in summary, expect a deposit or temporary hold when you first book which protects against cancellation or no-shows. This will eventually be applied to your stay charges or released after check out. Be sure to understand the hotel’s specific deposit and cancellation policies when booking.

Check-In and Check-Out Charges

During the check-in process, hotels may place a hold on your credit card to cover any incidental charges you may incur during your stay. These charges can include room service, minibar purchases, or damages to the room.

The hold is usually released within a few days after check-out, once the hotel has verified that no additional charges were incurred. If you used a debit card, the release of the hold may take longer, as it depends on your bank’s processing time.

Check-In Charges:

  • Room rate for all nights booked
  • Taxes on room rate
  • Destination fees or resort fees (if applicable)
  • Incidental hold ($50-$200 commonly)

During Stay:

  • Any incidental charges (room service, parking, etc)

Check-Out Charges:

  • Remaining room rate & tax charges
  • Incidental charges from during your stay
  • Valet charges (if applicable)
  • Mini-bar or other last minute charges

Check-Out Credits:

  • Release of incidental hold
  • Remaining deposit amount (if deposit was held separately)

So at check-in they’ll charge for the full estimated stay plus incidentals hold. At check-out they’ll charge any remaining balance, add new charges, and release any excess holds/deposits.

The key is that check-in secures the full estimated amount but check-out is when the final specific charges are reconciled. 

Post-Stay Additional Charges

Hotels can sometimes charge additional fees even after you have checked out, if they discover charges that weren’t accounted for previously. Some common examples:

  • Room service or mini bar charges – If you consumed something from the mini bar or ordered room service, but they don’t find out until after you departed, they may charge your card after the fact.
  • Smoking fees – If they discover you smoked in a non-smoking room, they can charge a smoking fee to your card.
  • Damages – If they find any damage to the room after you left, they may charge for any repairs or replacements needed.
  • Early departure fees – If you checked out early without proper notice, they may charge an early departure penalty.
  • Late check-out fees – If you stay past the check-out time without approval, a late check-out fee can be applied.

To protect yourself from surprise charges:

  • Settle all bills before leaving
  • Check out on time
  • Leave rooms undamaged and tidy
  • Notify hotel staff if you have any issues

Review your credit card statement afterward and dispute any invalid charges. But hotels do have the ability to charge your card for legitimate fees they discover post-stay.

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What Impacts Charge Timing

Understanding when a hotel charges your card is important for budgeting and planning your trip. Several factors can impact the timing of when a hotel charges your card. Let’s take a closer look at some of these factors:

Hotel Payment Policies

Each hotel has its own payment policies, which can vary widely. Some hotels may charge your card at the time of booking, while others may only charge a deposit and then charge the remaining balance upon check-in or check-out. It’s important to read the hotel’s payment policies carefully before making your reservation. This will ensure that you know when to expect the charges on your card.

Direct Bookings vs Agencies

The method you use to book your hotel can also impact when your card is charged. If you book directly with the hotel, they may charge your card immediately or closer to the date of your stay. On the other hand, if you book through a third-party agency or website, such as Expedia or, the timing of the charge may differ.

In some cases, the agency may charge your card upfront, while in others, the hotel may charge your card directly upon arrival.

Prepaid vs Pay Later

When you make a reservation, you may have the option to choose between a prepaid rate or a pay later rate. If you choose a prepaid rate, the hotel will typically charge your card at the time of booking.

This option often comes with a discounted rate, but it also means that the payment is non-refundable. On the other hand, if you choose a pay later rate, the hotel will usually only charge your card closer to the date of your stay or upon check-out.

It’s important to note that these are general guidelines and can vary depending on the specific hotel and its policies. To avoid any surprises, it’s always a good idea to contact the hotel directly or refer to their website for the most accurate and up-to-date information on their payment policies.

Declined Charges and Consequences

When it comes to hotel bookings, having a declined card can lead to a range of consequences. Let’s take a closer look at the procedures for declined cards and the potential issues that guests may face.

Procedures for Declined Cards

Hotels typically have a specific procedure in place for handling declined credit or debit cards. Upon check-in, most establishments will request a card to be authorized for the full amount of the stay, as well as an additional amount for incidentals. This is a common practice to ensure that the guest has sufficient funds to cover any charges that may be incurred during their stay.

If a card is declined during the authorization process, the hotel will usually attempt to contact the guest to inform them of the issue. They may ask for an alternative form of payment or request that the guest resolve the issue with their bank or credit card company. In some cases, the hotel may also offer the option to pay in cash or provide a different card for authorization.

It’s important to note that different hotels may have varying policies when it comes to declined cards, so it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the specific procedures of the hotel you are staying at.

Potential Issues for Guests

When a card is declined at a hotel, it can result in a number of potential issues for guests. One of the most common problems is not being able to check into the room or having limited access to hotel services until the payment issue is resolved.

In some cases, the hotel may hold the room reservation for a certain period of time, giving the guest an opportunity to provide an alternative form of payment. However, if the issue is not resolved within the specified timeframe, the hotel may release the reservation and the guest may lose their booking.

Another potential consequence of a declined card is the imposition of additional fees or charges. Some hotels may charge a fee for declined cards or impose penalties for late payment. These additional costs can add up and result in a more expensive stay than initially anticipated.

It’s worth mentioning that if a card is declined due to fraudulent activity or unauthorized charges, it’s essential to contact your bank or credit card company immediately to report the issue and protect your financial information.

Tips for Managing Hotel Charges

Understand Policies Upfront

One of the most important tips for managing hotel charges is to understand the hotel’s policies upfront. This means taking the time to read through the terms and conditions before making your reservation. Pay close attention to the section on payment and cancellation policies, as these will outline when and how your card will be charged.

Additionally, it’s a good idea to call the hotel directly and speak with a representative to clarify any questions you may have. This will ensure that you have a clear understanding of their specific policies and can avoid any surprises when it comes to your credit card charges.

Monitor Your Card Activity

Another tip for managing hotel charges is to regularly monitor your card activity. Keep an eye on your credit card statements or online banking app to ensure that you are aware of any charges made by the hotel.

If you notice any discrepancies or unauthorized charges, contact your credit card company immediately. They will be able to guide you through the process of disputing the charges and taking the necessary steps to protect your finances.

Remember, staying vigilant and proactive in monitoring your card activity is key to managing your hotel charges effectively.

Use Credit Over Debit

Using a credit card rather than a debit card can offer you added protection when it comes to managing hotel charges. Credit cards typically have stronger fraud protection measures in place, making it easier to dispute any unauthorized charges.

Additionally, credit cards often offer rewards programs or cashback incentives, allowing you to earn benefits while paying for your hotel stay. Just be sure to pay off your credit card balance in full each month to avoid any interest charges.

When it comes to managing hotel charges, using a credit card can provide you with peace of mind and potential perks along the way.


Hotel charge timing varies based on the type of charge, hotel policies, and booking details. By monitoring card statements, understanding holds vs. charges, and choosing payment methods carefully, travelers can avoid surprises and manage hotel payments effectively.

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