Do You Need a Credit Card to Get a Hotel Room?

Online reservations for hotels require you to enter a credit card number in order to reserve a room.

Doing so ensures that the hotel can hold onto your card info and verify your identity before you show up to check into the hotel. You can also use a debit card to make a reservation.

But is it possible to stay in a hotel room without using a credit card?

You don’t have to have a credit card to get a hotel room, but if you wish to book a room online, you will need a credit card or debit card. You can also pay for your hotel stay with cash, but you’ll need to make the reservation in person and pay a deposit before your stay.

How to Pay for a Hotel Stay

Hotels, motels, and resorts all require some sort of payment in order to make a reservation. Making an online reservation is the easiest and most popular way to reserve a room, and you’ll need some kind of digital payment to do so. 

But why do hotels need a card on file?

When you make a hotel reservation online, you are entering a contract with the hotel to save that room for you. The hotel puts a hold on your card, which serves as a deposit that both holds the room and may also be used for charges during your stay. This covers incidental damages as well as potential loss of revenue if you cancel the reservation, and also helps ensure you stick to the agreement. 

Usually, this charge is removed from your account when you check out, and is replaced by the overall charge for your stay and any additional charges you made to the room instead. 

Hotels also prefer that guests use credit cards (or debit cards) because it gives them an additional layer of security. The name on your card should match the name you use for the reservation, and should match your ID when you check in. This is how the hotel can verify that you are who you say you are. 

Credit cards also tend to be the easiest form of payment. It’s easy for the hotel to put any pending charges on your card for your deposit and final charges after you check out. 

If you don’t want to use a credit card, a debit card is the next best option. As long as you have enough money in your account, it functions exactly like a credit card. 

If you wish to make an online reservation, you’re going to need a credit or debit card. Hotels do accept cash, checks, and money orders for payment, but you can’t use them to make an online reservation. For these forms of payment, you’ll need to make your reservation in person instead of online. As long as you pay a deposit, the hotel will reserve a room for you for your requested amount of nights, if available. 

Keep in mind that hotels vary when it comes to their individual payment policies, and can refuse to accept other forms of payment outside of credit and debit cards. Typically, a credit or debit card will be the preferred method of payment.

Be sure to call ahead to check a specific hotel’s policies and make the necessary payment arrangements with the front desk if needed. Remember, if you’re not using a credit card, you may need to visit the hotel in-person before your stay to give your deposit. 

Read Also >> Can You Book A Hotel With A Debit Card?

Can You Rent a Hotel if you’re 18?

The minimum age required to rent a hotel room can vary depending on the hotel and the location of the hotel. 

In the United States, different states can impose different age restrictions when renting a hotel room. Some states allow guests as young as 16 to rent a room, while others require guests to be at least 21.

Many hotels don’t want to rent to guests under 18 years of age, because they don’t want to deal with liability issues or be responsible for minors. 

In most cases, you can expect hotels in major cities, near bars, or those that are a part of resorts and casinos to require guests to be at least 21 years old. These hotels tend to include alcohol sales either near or on their property, and the legal drinking age in the U.S. is 21. 

Guests under the minimum age can stay at a hotel as long as they’re staying with someone above the legal age. 

If you have questions about a hotel’s minimum age, you should call the hotel or review their website’s terms and conditions to verify that you will be able to reserve a room. 

If you are somehow able to reserve a room and don’t meet the minimum age requirements, the hotel can cancel your reservation and ask you to leave.

Can I Pay for my Hotel Stay Before I Arrive?

Different hotels will have different policies regarding when you can pay for your stay. When you reserve a room, you’ll have a hold placed on your account, and normally you won’t be charged in full until after you check out. 

While some hotels may let you pay in full for your stay before you get there, most do prefer that you wait until you check out. This allows them to add any fees for damages or other accrued expenses to your total charge when you leave without having to send multiple charges to your account (and do more paperwork). 

It’s also more convenient for you and the hotel to wait until after check-out to pay, because you can charge additional amenities like movies, snacks, drinks, or other services to your room while you’re there. 

If you pay before you arrive, remember that any other charges you rack up while you’re at the hotel will appear later as a separate charge. 

Also, keep in mind that the hotel may have a refund policy that makes it difficult, or nearly impossible, to get your money back if you cancel or leave early. 

If you don’t use a credit or debit card and pay with cash, you will have to pay before you arrive for your stay (at least for the deposit). 

If you want to pay for your stay before your arrival, your best option is to call the hotel’s front desk. Get a good understanding of their refund policy, and verify with that specific hotel whether or not they’re willing to receive the full amount for your stay before you arrive.

Read Also >> Can You Book A Hotel With A Prepaid Card? 


You don’t have to have a credit card to get a hotel room, but it is the easiest way to book your stay. You can use either a debit or credit card for online hotel reservations. Hotels will usually accept cash, checks, prepaid cards, or money orders when you check out, but they typically don’t allow this form of payment for making a reservation.