When making a hotel reservation, you usually have to provide a credit card number to guarantee your booking.
Hotels require this to protect themselves from no-shows, and the type of card they accept can vary.
Many hotels will not take prepaid cards to hold a reservation or pay a deposit and prefer standard credit or debit cards. However, prepaid cards are becoming more common, and some hotels may accept them to hold a reservation but not to pay a deposit or as a payment method for the full stay.
Why Don’t Hotels Accept Prepaid Cards?
Hotels don’t accept prepaid cards for a couple of reasons.
The first is that most hotels need the name on the reservation to match the name on the credit card used for the booking. Since prepaid cards are usually anonymous, there’s no way to confirm the room is actually yours.
Secondly, and more importantly for the hotel, when you use a credit card to book a room, at least one night’s stay is often placed as a pre-authorized charge (or hold) on the card.
Most hotels will not accept a prepaid card because while it may have enough for the hold, there’s no guarantee it will cover the total cost of your stay.
It can be a few days before the full price is taken from the card, and the hotel loses money if there are insufficient funds on the prepaid card.
Scammers could easily load just enough cash on the card to cover the pre-authorization charges, knowing they don’t have enough to cover the full amount.
Some prepaid cards also don’t allow holds, which means they can’t be used for reservations.
Do Any Hotels Accept Prepaid Cards?
Some hotels permit prepaid cards, but you’ll have to contact them in advance to double-check their policies.
Hotels that accept these cards will often charge the full amount at check-in plus an additional deposit for incidentals (like the minibar).
Another option is to use a different credit card to book your stay and then use the prepaid card to pay when you check out.
Why Do Hotels Require a Deposit?
Hotels require guests to pay a deposit to cover the costs of in-room expenses (like the minibar or room service) and to cover the costs of any damage to the room.
Hotels take deposits via credit cards because this allows them to keep the card number on file and charge for the room even if you don’t check out in person.
If you don’t use or damage anything, the hotel will refund your deposit.
Can You Book a Hotel Without a Credit Card?
Most hotels will not allow you to book a stay without a credit card they can keep on file.
You might be able to pay for the hotel balance in-person with a prepaid card or cash, but they will likely still want a card on file if they need to charge you for something.
Some hotels may be willing to waive the requirement if you check-in in person, but they may ask for other information (such as your ID) that proves who you are and shows your address.
What Happens if I Book a Hotel With a Credit Card and Change My Mind?
If you use a credit card to book a hotel room and change your mind, you may be charged anyway.
Some hotels may be willing to refund you or may offer a credit you can use in the future.
It just depends on the hotel’s cancellation policy and the situation.
For example, if you accidentally booked a room at the wrong hotel and want to stay at the same chain but in a different location, they may be willing to move the reservation to the other hotel.
When you want to book a hotel, you will typically need to use a credit card to reserve your room.
Most hotels do not accept prepaid credit cards and will require a regular credit card.
Every hotel is different, so contact the property directly to learn more about their policies.