One thing to be aware of when you are booking rooms at hotels is the practice of credit card blocking. This is when a hotel reservations agent takes your credit or debit card number from you and effectively blocks out the total cost of your hotel room before you even arrive. This practice is done by many hotels to ensure payment on their customers’ rooms.
By imposing the block, hotels can keep a card holder from spending the money that would be spent on a hotel room. However, for people with low credit limits, people who are approaching their limits, or debit card holders with low balances, it can cause real problems.
The problem occurs because most hotels require a credit card number to hold a room reservation. Thus, when making reservations, most people supply the hotel clerk with a card number and then forget about it, knowing that they can pay by any method they’d like once they arrive. What these people don’t realize, however, is that often times the entire cost of their room, for the total number of nights that they’ve reserved, is then ?blocked out? on their credit or debit card immediately.
In other words, if the cost of the room for 3 nights comes to $500, then that amount will be held on the card and the card holder will be unable to use $500 of their credit limit. The block is removed from the card once the hotel bill is paid after the hotel stay.
However, sometimes if customers use a different method of payment instead of their credit card to settle the bill, the hotel clerk may forget to remove the block and it may remain for days. This is an extremely inconvenient and inconsiderate practice by hotels, and does not take into consideration the fact that many people with low credit use their card to make a reservation but prefer to pay their bill by cash or check.
What can you do to make sure that a credit card block doesn’t cause problems for you? When you make reservations at hotels, be sure to ask whether they impose a credit card block so that you’ll know beforehand. Supply the hotels with a credit or debit card with a high credit limit or a high balance, to avoid overdraft charges.
If you pay your final hotel bill with cash or a check, remind the hotel representative to remove the block immediately. If you have lingering concerns about the block, contact your bank or credit card company.
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