Next time you rent a car or checking in to a hotel, be careful which form of payment you hand over, or you could find yourself with an empty bank account or maxed-out credit card.
Here’s what happens: At hotel check-in the clerk will ask to see your credit or debit card. Contrary to popular belief, they aren’t just taking an imprint to keep on file and charge your final bill.
They’re contacting your card company to reduce your available balance by their estimated total. This is meant to protect the merchant. Depending on the hotel’s policy, it can be anywhere from $100 to $300 a night.
My advice, don’t hand over a debit card, or you could wipe out your account before you know it.
The best thing you can do is arm yourself with knowledge, which means asking the clerk exactly how much is being blocked, and for how long.
If you use a different card to pay your bill, notify the clerk to have the block released … or it could remain for up to 15 days.
For more information, check out the Money, Currency & Credit section.
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