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Usually, every traveler has at least one of them: credit cards. We use them to book our flights, rent cars or to pay for our stays at a hotel. But what if you don’t have a credit card or you don’t want to use it for whatever reason? Are there ways to pay for your night at a hotel without plastic?
First things first: in many cases, it might not be that easy to get a room without a credit card. Most hotels brands want you to enter your card number before a room gets reserved. Of course, they have good reasons for this procedure: they want to make sure that you show up and, if you don’t, have a way to bill you for a no-show.
Even if you’ve been able to book the room you might run into problems once you arrived and want to check in. Often a deposit is needed to ensure you’ll cover the bill for drinks from the mini bar or just as a security in case you destroy something in your room.
So we can agree that it can get tricky. Still, we’d like to try and show you a few alternative ways to book a hotel room if credit cards are off limit to you.
Online Travel Agencies
They will often offer a very simple way to avoid using a credit card to pay for your stay: Online Travel Agencies (short: OTA). Most of them provide at least one additional method of payment. We checked three of the major online booking platforms to see what options you’ve got with them.
Booking.com – Now Possible Without Any Credit Card
On booking.com it is even possible to filter hotels that do not require a credit card at all. You will find this option under Reservation policy, not Payment method.
To the very end of the booking process, all information you need to provide are your name, e-mail and telephone numbers.
Further, you can select between credit cards and other payment options like PayPal.
If you’re trying to book a rate that will allow you to cancel your reservation without a fee, go for the Pay now option since PayPal otherwise will not be available for selection.
You can then chose from all methods of payment that the hotel and/or Booking.com accept. In some countries, you will see SOFORT banking or even direct transfer as further selections.
This worldwide operating travel agency waited a while until it introduced PayPal as a method of payment. But nowadays the customer can choose between credit cards, debit cards, and PayPal.
The process is easy, just look for your preferred hotel and let Expedia guide you through the payment process. The pre-set method is credit and debit cards. But you can switch to PayPal. As soon as you hit the Buy now button, the PayPal window will open and ask you to enter your credentials and confirm the transaction.
You can always choose PayPal to settle your bill for the upcoming stay at a hotel. With pre-paid, non-refundable rates the option is standard. If you go for a rate that allows free cancelation, be sure to select the Pay now option instead of the Pay at the hotel. Almost all properties will only accept credit card payment.
By the way: this also works for all other products and services that Expedia offers, e.g., rental, cars, and flights. Since the site sells almost everything in the leisure and travel sector, it is a great option for people not willing to use a credit card.
Technically part of the Expedia network, Hotels.com is one of the largest websites for booking hotel rooms online. And it is also an agency that will accept PayPal and, in some cases, other payment methods next to credit cards.
Hotels.com offers you to pay by credit or debit card, PayPal and – very interesting – also via gift card. Of course, this gift card has to be paid for as well (and cash once again isn’t an option). But you could have someone else buy the card for you and then book your night at the hotel.
If you want to use PayPal, the process is more or less identical to the ones already explained. In the case of free cancelation, chose the Pay now option. And then just click the PayPal checkbox. After you finished entering all necessary data, Hotels.com will forward you to PayPal.
There might still be the occasional motel that will accept reservation on the phone and let you pay cash once you arrived. But this is not the rule. Especially more prominent hotel brands won’t normally go that way for reservations and paying with cash isn’t all that popular either.
So you will need some form of electronic payment. Not necessarily a credit card, but at least a bank account. That’s the basis for almost all the solutions that we can offer you.
Klarna, Pay Now & Co
These services are not available in every country but are widespread already. The names may differ, but the system is always the same: it is actually a direct debit that is accelerated by a service provider. You enter your account information and approve a debit from your account. The ‘middle man’ (e.g., Klarna) guarantees a certain amount to the hotel or travel agency so the service can be provided right away.
Transferring money directly from your account to the hotel’s bank account is nothing widespread and available in every country. But in some cases, you can make a reservation via phone or email and the hotel will send you bank details and give you the option to pay the rate in advance.
This is another option that some hotels and OTAs might offer in selected countries. Instead of sending the money to the hotel or booking platform as you’d do with a bank transfer, you permit them to debit the funds from your account.
Depending on the country that you’re from, there are different types of debit cards. Sometimes you will receive a Maestro or VPay card from your bank while in other cases, the financial institution provides debit cards in the form of a Visa or MasterCard to its customers.
Even though all debit cards have the same functionality – they allow you to pay only the amount that is covered by the money in your bank account – the range of use is different.
The primary distinction is the number that you have on your card. Visa and MasterCard debit cards use a number that most reservation systems will identify as a regular credit card number. Therefore you should be able to get through the normal booking process just by entering the number from your card. Of course, you should have enough money in your account at the time of booking.
If your bank does not give out this kind of cards, you might want to consider an alternative. TransferWise, for example, might be a good option. Also, Revolut offers a debit card with your free account:
If your card is not a Visa or a MasterCard, you usually won’t be able to book a hotel room using it. Although in many cases you could be able to pay your stay with these cards once you arrived at the hotel, reservation systems usually don’t accept cards such as Maestro or VPay.
In some countries, you can indeed top up those cards with cash. This means that using those cards could be a way to pay for your hotel without even having a bank account!
Prepaid credit cards
Technically these are also debit cards, but you won’t need a bank that hands them out nor will any kind of credit check by required. Also, there is no real connection to you as a person, so these prepaid cards offer a higher degree of privacy than normal credit cards.
If you can’t or don’t want to use a plastic card to pay for your hotel stay, this method is genuinely your friend: PayPal. Nowadays, there are quite some OTAs that will accept PayPal as a method of payment. And since the payment service allows you to enter your bank account in addition or instead of a credit card, it offers the best and easiest way to book your hotel.
The list of travel agencies that partner up with PayPal is already quite long and gets longer by the day. We mentioned a few examples at the beginning of the article, but we are sure that you will be able to find more.
Contact the hotel
If the hotel you want to stay at doesn’t offer any payment options besides a credit card, it might be worth contacting them. Just call them or drop them an email explaining that you are interested in staying with them but would like to pay via direct deposit or use another form of payment. Especially smaller hotels will often be okay with you paying upfront without a credit card.
But also the larger brands will in many cases show flexibility and come up with solutions to get you a reservation without a credit card.
Booking your hotel room without using a credit card isn’t impossible anymore. There are certain options you can choose from if for whatever reason you don’t have or use plastic.
But don’t be fooled: even if you manage to book your hotel stay with PayPal, a direct deposit or other means, you will run into trouble at the check-in. Almost every hotel will require a deposit before the hand over the keys to you. And that’s the point where only a credit or at least a debit card will do the job.
Will I need a credit card during check-in?
Unfortunately, this can be a shop-stopper when trying to book a hotel without a credit card. Many properties require some kind of deposit before you get the keys to your room. Try calling the hotel upfront and ask if you can use another method of payment for the deposit.
Can I pay for my room in cash?
Generally speaking, most hotels won’t usually offer this type of payment. And there are two problems. Making a reservation without some security and also paying for your room. Smaller hotels will more likely take a different path then large brands. Especially if the hotel knows you or your company, the reservation could be made on the phone and you could be lucky enough to arrange cash payment.
Is PayPal free and safe to use?
The answers are: yes and most likely. PayPal won’t charge you anything for their service. So you sign up for free and use your wallet whenever you need it. And it seems to be pretty safe. Of course, no one can guarantee that nothing will go wrong. But the company has been able to build up a lot of trust over the past years. Mostly due to its safe process of transferring money.
Would you recommend getting a credit card
Definitely yes! If you travel a lot, it is much better to own a credit card then trying to avoid them altogether. Especially since nowadays you have several options to use plastic without extra costs. There are several providers out there that will issue a card without annual costs. And if you have problems due to credit scores or similar, use Revolut or TransferWise to get a debit card.
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