Ask Finder: Do I need to give my credit card to a hotel that is booked by my employer?

Posted: 10 July 2019 10:19 am News

A woman filling out a form at a hotel reception desk.

Is a credit card really needed when you check-in for work?

Dear Finder,
I'm just about to go on my first work trip, which has been booked online and paid for with the company credit card. I know hotels usually ask for a card when you check-in, so what happens when it's been booked by work? Do I still have to give them a credit card or debit card?
Thanks,
Excited employee

While it can vary by hotel, most places ask for a card (along with your ID) when you check-in. Usually, you can use either a credit card or a debit card that's issued in your name.

As well as helping to verify your identity, the card details are used as a security deposit for any additional charges, such as room service or minibar drinks/snacks.

In most cases, the hotel will put an authorisation hold on the card to help cover these costs. Also known as a pre-authorisation, this basically means a set amount of money will be held during your stay to help guarantee the hotel will be paid.

This amount could be anything from $1 up to $100 or more per stay and usually shows up as a "pending" transaction on your account (so that you can't spend it).

When you check out, the money is released and goes back into your account – assuming you haven't used any extras.

What about other options?

Most hotels also give you the option of providing a cash deposit instead of a card – although the amount may be higher.

For example, the George Williams Hotel in Brisbane has a security deposit of $100 in cash, compared to $10 if you provide your credit card. Similarly, the terms and conditions for Mantra Hotels in Australia notes that a minimum $200 cash deposit is required at any properties that accept a cash deposit – and not all of them do.

Finder's resident frequent traveller and editor-in-chief, Angus Kidman, also said that it might take longer to check out if you choose this option.

"I've found that if I use cash, they will actually go up to the room and check that I haven't used anything or caused any damage. So it can add about 10 minutes to the check-out process," he said.

Another option is to talk to your employer about the security deposit. They may be willing to provide the cash for it.

Alternatively, the person who booked could try contacting the hotel to see if the corporate card that was used for the booking can also be used as security for the room (although the latter option may not work if the room is booked through a third-party service such as Booking.com or Skyscanner).

If your position at work means you'll be travelling more often now, you could also ask your employer about getting an additional card that's linked to the corporate account. Depending on the type of business credit card they use, you could even earn frequent flyer points with this option.

Generally, the simplest option is to use your own credit card, as hotels typically ask for it when you check in anyway. It also tends to attract the lowest authorisation hold and doesn't impact on your actual cash the way using a debit card would – so you may want to compare some options before your trip.

But if you don't have a credit card or really don't want to provide these details, you can look at the other options we've explained here instead. Happy travels!

Ask Finder is a regular column where Finder's expert writers answer your questions. All rates and fees are correct at the time of publication and we only give general advice.

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