Archive Only - Fresh content at Condй Nast Traveler
Front Desk Guy / Front Desk Tips / Hotel Security / Hotel Payments / Paying with a Credit Card / → All Tags
What to Remember About Using a Credit Card to Pay For Your Hotel Room
What's worse than leaving something behind at the hotel. Leaving your money behind. Our Front Desk Guy, Aditya Rajaram is here with a few gentle reminders about credit card security at hotels.
The #1 goal of any hotel should be safety and security. Not just the safety and security of its guests and their belongings, but also their financials, i.e. credit cards, money, checks etc.
The security of these starts not when a guest checks in but rather, when they make the booking. In my years working at hotels across many operators, there are clear procedures and protocols that serve to protect guest information and their financials.
Still, guests should always be on guard when handing over their credit card. There are a lot of bad scams out there and sadly, you can't trust anyone. We know you already know most of these tips but here are a few things to remember:
WHEN YOU ARE MAKING THE BOOKING:
1. Verify the website There are a hundred third-party websites that offer reservation services and guests should ensure that all these websites are safe and secure and offer appropriate protections against malware, phishing or other such hacks.
2. Never send your information over email/phone. Starwood has taking this security one step further. The moment any email sent to their email addresses have the word "credit card" or "Visa/Mastercard," an automated mail is sent back informing you that Starwood does not accept this information via email and to please call the office directly in order to schedule a payment. While this is what Starwood does, all hotel operators do ensure that the credit card or banking information does not fall into the wrong hands.
Under no circumstances should you send your banking/payment information via email. All correspondence for payment must be via approved credit card/payment authorized documents and verified by the hotel. Make sure that all authorizations are confirmed upon receipt by the hotel and that you keep a copy not only of the letter but the name and designation of the person you are corresponding with.
3. Verify the amount being charged. Regardless of the website that is being used to make a booking, making sure of the total amount being charged to you is paramount. Room charges are often not the only amount being blocked. Hotels often charged all the taxes (municipal, state etc), which can significantly add to the total amount being blocked. Furthermore,
when paying for a third-party, always ensure that the exact amount or exact product and services that only you are responsible for i.e. Room and breakfast, telephone calls, Sign All Charges etc.) You do not want a situation where the hotel smacks your credit card for all charges because they didn’t see any instructions stating the contrary.
WHEN YOU ARE CHECKING IN
1. Control your payment method. When checking in, always make sure you keep track of where and with who your payment is. Almost always the staff are very careful of the "chain of custody" but just make sure they are taking the right amount of money and returning the card and change to you correctly.
2. Verify the amount being charged. Hotels almost always take more than just a room and tax charge. They block a certain amount for incidentals (WiFi/minibar/F&B) and the amount is refunded if not spent. It is just a way for the hotel to protect the payment in case the guest leaves without paying.
3. Know the difference between using the credit card and a debit card. This is crucial. As mentioned above, hotels often take an authorization for the total room/tax amount plus an amount for incidentals each day. If you are staying for multiple days, this amount can really rack up. If you are using a credit card, the hotel takes an "authorization" or "holds" the total amount on the card and does not actually charge you until check out.
This is completely different when you are using a debit card because when the hotel runs the authorization with a debit card, the total amount is actually deducted from your account immediately. When the hotel bill runs into the $1,000s, this is a very serious problem because it restricts the guests’ actual cash balance and takes several days for the money to be reinstated. (See this debit card horror story on VegasChatter.) Always verify the card you are using and confirm the amount with the hotel.
4. Credit card receipt information. Though the norm these days is that credit card receipts only show the last 4 digits, some receipts still print out the entire number. This is a big no-no and you must ensure that the information is hidden and struck off. Carefully read the credit card receipts and make sure no sensitive information is floating around.
5. Verify who is asking for the payment. The most important aspect of credit card/payment security is to ensure the "chain of custody" is secure. Make sure you can verify the person asking for the information, the destination and use of the payment information and that you receive a confirmation that your payment, for the right amount, has been authorized.