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Old Jul 28, 09, 1:32 am   #1
 
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incidental charges (deposit)?

Does anyone know how much 4+ hotels (i.e. Hilton, Hyatt, Sheraton, Westin) in New York charge (hold) as an incidental deposit for 4 - 5 nights?
I book via PL, and use a Debit/Credit (Debitcard with Visa-symbol. All I have. Foreign student)
I just want to make sure I have enough money on the right account. Someone told me they hold $500!
Thanks so much
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Old Jul 28, 09, 7:51 am   #2
 
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A $500 hold for 4 - 5 nights in NYC ($100/day) doesn't sound excessive. Hotels with a minibar in the room will often hold the total value of the minibar. You might be able to reduce what they hold by refusing a minibar key. If you're attending a conference where all meals are provided by the conference, you could also use that as a negotiating point. Ask at the front desk when you check in and see what they say. I'm sure you know that the hold may last for a week or more after you check out. Just be prepared to have that money tied up for some time.

Last edited by BLI-Flyer; Jul 28, 09 at 1:34 pm.. Reason: correct spelling
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Old Jul 29, 09, 3:38 am   #3
 
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Holy cow !
Yeah, I understand, but it's still a lot of money. So maybe just no fancy hotel for me then. A deposit makes 600 (when using PL) to $1100.
Even when I get it back, I wouldn't have too much spending money then anymore for the month.
Thanks again.
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Old Jul 29, 09, 4:16 am   #4
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I'm more familiar with the rental car world than the hotel world, but note that at least some hotels and definitely many rental car locations won't even accept a debit card for a deposit (statistically, those who don't have credit cards tend to be riskier/more problematic customers--obviously not the case in your situation, but policies are policies). Be sure that whichever hotel you stay at will (and if they require extra qualification steps, such as flight itineraries or a check of your credit history, that you'll be able to supply or pass those--a foreign student without a U.S. credit history probably wouldn't pass a credit check).

And deposit amounts vary HEAVILY between locations, so you'd really need to check with the specific hotel. Of course, that's rather hard to do when using an opaque site like PL until it's too late...

Last edited by jackal; Jul 29, 09 at 9:46 am.. Reason: spelling/clarifying
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Old Jul 29, 09, 5:50 am   #5
 
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Awesome. I don't have any real credit (check) yet.
My debit card has a visa symbol on it. Can I hear some more opinions? Also about the amount of the deposit? Is it really that high?

What if I'd refuse to pay a deposit (I wouldn't ever, that's just a question out of interest) but I'd have already purchased the room (via PL or through the hotel site) Can they send me away?
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Old Jul 29, 09, 6:04 am   #6
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Originally Posted by Rieki View Post
What if I'd refuse to pay a deposit (I wouldn't ever, that's just a question out of interest) but I'd have already purchased the room (via PL or through the hotel site) Can they send me away?
Try it and let us know what happens in case there's someone else with your position. But I doubt that anyone else has this concern. Listen, a deposit is when you put money down and you get it back when it's over and you haven't skipped out on paying. Enjoy the trip and collect your refund at the end. Okay?
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Old Jul 29, 09, 10:06 am   #7
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Originally Posted by Rieki View Post
Awesome. I don't have any real credit (check) yet.
My debit card has a visa symbol on it. Can I hear some more opinions? Also about the amount of the deposit? Is it really that high?

What if I'd refuse to pay a deposit (I wouldn't ever, that's just a question out of interest) but I'd have already purchased the room (via PL or through the hotel site) Can they send me away?
It won't matter that your debit card has a Visa logo on it. Hotels and rental cars will still recognize it as a debit card. It happens to run through the credit card processing networks, but it's still a card that anyone (even with a bad or no credit history) can obtain, and people (especially those who don't have credit cards) tend to have less in their checking accounts than most credit cards have in their available credit line.

Just to give you a flavor of the restrictions you may face, in Anchorage, rental car deposits on debit cards vary from $200 to $500 depending on the company (one doesn't accept debit cards at all, and most agencies require a copy of a flight itinerary [one also requires an insurance card, and one runs a check of your credit history in lieu of this extra paperwork])--this helps to screen the less risky travelers from the more risky local residents. Credit card holds are significantly less than debit card deposits and don't require any additional qualifying paperwork. Most of these agencies here are franchises, though, and their policies are different from most corporate-owned locations (whose deposits aren't quite as high).

I'm not familiar with hotel debit card deposit practices, however. Some hotels may accept your debit card and treat it as no different from a regular credit card. Others might not accept them at all. Most will probably be in the middle--they'll take it, but they'll either charge an additional amount, or at the least, instead of doing it as a temporary authorization (which places a hold on your funds), they'll actually charge the amount out of your account and will then refund it upon check-out.

Of the rental car agencies in Anchorage that accept Priceline/Hotwire prepaid deals (I'm only aware of two), if you don't fulfill their requirements, they will deny you the rental. I don't know if you can get your money back from Priceline (and if so, I'd imagine it's quite an ordeal).

Your experience will probably differ significantly from what I've posted. I'm just giving you an example of what you might face when trying to travel without a credit card. If you plan on being in the U.S. awhile, it might not hurt to try to establish some credit history here and get a real credit card--check into student cards (United offers a College Plus Visa, IIRC) or a secured credit card through a local bank or credit union.
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Old Jul 29, 09, 10:13 am   #8
 
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I have done Hotwire and Priceline many times. I have also booked pre-paid rates on hotel web sites. Since the rooms are pre-paid, some hotels have just authorized a single dollar on my credit card (just to make sure the card is active). You may want to call the hotel and ask how they handle pre-paid reservations.
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Old Jul 29, 09, 11:44 am   #9
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Try it and let us know what happens in case there's someone else with your position. But I doubt that anyone else has this concern. Listen, a deposit is when you put money down and you get it back when it's over and you haven't skipped out on paying. Enjoy the trip and collect your refund at the end. Okay?
Problem is that many hotels keep the hold on debit cards for up to a week after the stay. If you are looking at $100/day on a 5 night trip, that is quite a bit of cash to have tied away.

One other option is to offer the hotel a cash deposit - most will accept this, and that way you just get your cash back at the end of the trip.
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Old Jul 29, 09, 11:14 pm   #10
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Problem is that many hotels keep the hold on debit cards for up to a week after the stay. If you are looking at $100/day on a 5 night trip, that is quite a bit of cash to have tied away.
Depends how it's processed.

If it's processed as a charge, then a refund is issued at check-out and you will get your money back in the normal timeframe any other refund will take (though some banks are horrible--Wells Fargo notoriously takes almost a full month to post any refunds back into customers' accounts).

If it's processed as an authorization-only transaction, which is what hotels and rental car agencies do with credit cards, then the hotel has no control over how long that hold is valid for. It is entirely up to the bank that issues your card as to how long they'll keep that hold on your money until they determine the merchant isn't likely to submit a charge against that authorization. Some banks will hold an authorization for only a few days; others will hold onto it for a full month. But unless the hotel does a special request (sometimes involving a faxed request on hotel letterhead) directly to the bank, the authorization will just sit there until the card-issuing bank decides to release it.

Ironically, the $500 hold can be voided within a couple days if the merchant submits a charge of any amount against that authorization. So if you take one thing from the minibar for $5 and the hotel submits that $5 against the $500 hold, the other $495 will be released as the bank sees that it is no longer needed.
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Old Jul 30, 09, 2:02 am   #11
 
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Ouch. I don't want to come across cheap. The thing is that for someone like me $500 is a lot of money, especially when a trip is planned and you want to go shopping or do things [My bank releases such funds back only after a long while sometimes]
I was actually looking forward to stay someplace really nice (as I haven't had a real vacation in a year and live in a dorm) but that might not be happening now I hardly can book through PL, and then discover that the hotel won't let me stay there, b/c I can't cover a huge deposit, or only have a debit card.
I don't care about the minibar key, and for sure wouldn't trash anything. But see above, I don't know if the hotel would actually offer such kind of deal.

Thanks so much for all the nice replies

PS. I think the hotel can refuse to let you stay there, if you refuse to pay a deposit. It's for sure in their terms&conditions. And with PL, you probably agree to agree to the hotel's terms&conditions (Either way, I wouldn't dare to ask that)

Last edited by Rieki; Jul 30, 09 at 2:13 am.. Reason: PS
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Old Jul 30, 09, 3:06 am   #12
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What I would do is this. Use the biddingfortravel.com and betterbidding.com websites to see if you can discover what the hotels you're likely to win with your given bid. Then, call all of those hotels and get their debit card policy. It may not actually be as bad as you think.
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Old Jul 30, 09, 8:15 am   #13
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I know more than one person who didn't have a deposit to leave so the hotel blocked that person's account from any charges - pay TV, phone, room service, etc. Not sure if that would be the case with the hotel you might get.

Last month I stayed at a hotel in Anchorage that I won through Hotwire months ago. Gave my credit card at check in for the guarantee and guess what? The hotel charged MY credit card for the room stay. Ugh! A phone call took care of it but it is not the first time that has happened.
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Old Jul 30, 09, 8:39 am   #14
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Last month I stayed at a hotel in Anchorage that I won through Hotwire months ago.
You were in ANC and didn't post in the The Consolidated ANC Meet-Up Thread?! Woulda loved to have said hi!
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Old Aug 11, 09, 5:15 pm   #15
 
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Lightbulb Follow Up

In case anybody has ever the same problem
I called Hilton, Hyatt, Westin, Sheraton, W's, Wyndham, Four Seasons (just to make sure) Waldorf Astoria and a couple others.
Debit Card is possible everywhere.
But it varies. They charge between $100 and $325 per night's stay, and it depends how many people.
So the best is, call for yourself. But Debit Card goes everywhere, no problem.
And I'll pay it.
Even cash goes btw. But then, it's more.

Thanks again so much to all
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