Every now and then, we get guests very confused on how their debit card works. Lately, there seems to be even more confusion. Maybe it’s the economy, maybe the fine print was ignored – who knows. But it’s really important to understand. Credit cards are not debit cards. And like most hotels we ask for a credit card at check in. Not a debit card. In fact we have a sign explaining this right at check in.
Here’s why we ask for a credit card – we expect that you will be able to pay for the balance of your stay and any incidentals (we are a resort and there are lots of ways to add things to your room charges – pub, spa, room service, gifts, etc). We’d like to know before a guest check in that payment will be received because those who cannot pay for the stay have a way of leaving in the middle of the night – like walking out on a restaurant tab. Our staff works hard – it isn’t unfair to expect to be paid for their efforts the value of the stay and whatever phone calls, spa treatments, room service, etc has been purchased.
Here’s why we have a sign about debit cards – they do not work like a credit card. If a debit card is presented, your bank will hold your funds. Why? because that is what a debit card is connected to. Not your credit line with MasterCard or Visa, but your bank account. So the balance of stay and incidentals authorization – plus whatever your bank may choose to add for safety on such transactions – will be frozen. If you do not have enough funds, there is definitely a possibility that you could overdraft – but your bank expects you to be responsible when using the card (this is all in the fine print when you get one.) Think about that from the bank’s point of view – your bank is covering your stay with us because you cannot pay. It’s not fun for anyone – you, us or the bank. That is why we ask for a credit card – so your bank account is not affected.
If you find yourself using a debit card, know exactly how it works and what it means to present that card to a business. Because once the card is authorized (which by the way, is not a charge – it’s a hold. They are different), the bank’s terms on release kick in – which (fine print) can be up to 14 business days. And they will not talk to us about any favors releasing something early or adjusting overdrafts fees(federal regulations on banking – they can only talk to the account holder and, fine print, they are holding you responsible for using your card. Besides, why would you want your bank talking to anyone about your account information? That’s just not a good idea. And whenever we try for particularly insistent guest, the bank already knows who they are – they have a history of such issues and are flagged. Yikes – not the list to be on these days).
We’ve googled a few articles about debit vs credit, but in the end, we will ask for a credit card, we do expect the services to be paid for and if a debit card is presented, please use responsibly so everyone can enjoy the vacation.