Odds are you’re going to stay in a hotel once or twice in your life. Whether you’re heading on vacation or meeting up with family, hotel stays are incredibly common these days. However, if you tend to avoid credit cards and live on cash, finding a hotel room can be difficult.
While it’s not impossible to book a hotel without a credit card, it’s also not a simple process. In this article, we’ll explore why it’s difficult, which hotels still allow booking in this way, and give you a few tips for finding hotels that will allow you to book without a credit card.
Why Booking a Hotel Without a Card Is Difficult
Before credit cards became commonplace, the world revolved around cash. However, when the first universal credit card, launched in 1950 by Diner’s Club, became available, the concept of personal credit was quickly adopted. Nowadays, nearly all hotels require a credit card when booking—and if not, they’ll need one when you’re checking in. A hotel takes a security deposit at check-in to cover any damage that may occur while you’re staying in the room. If it accepts cash for room payment when a guest books, it would be left unprotected if anything went awry.
Which Hotels Will Book Without a Credit Card?
Although it’s not impossible to book a hotel without a credit card, it can be tough to find one that will allow it. Generally speaking, you’ll need at least a credit card, debit card, or prepaid card in order to book your room. Often, you can then change your payment method—either when you check in or after you’ve completed your stay. There are still hotels that accept cash payment in the major chains, including Hilton, IHG, Choice, and Wyndham, though the policy varies among properties.
Check with the hotel you’re planning to stay at to ensure cash is accepted to book a room there.
If you prefer to book online without a credit card, you may be able to call the hotel directly and make an arrangement. Otherwise, using an online travel agency (OTA) may help you find a hotel that can be booked without a credit card.
Booking.com is an excellent option for booking without using a credit card, as it includes a filter that searches specifically for hotels that allow you to make a reservation in that way. This is the easiest option by far.
Other hotels will allow you to change your payment method to cash upon arrival, including a cash deposit. You’ll still need some sort of card to book online, but you can choose to reserve a room that isn’t prepaid. This means your card won’t ever be charged as long as you swap your payment method at the hotel.
Here are some examples of hotels that either allow you to use cash when checking in or checking out.
|Hotels||Booking Options||Deposit Required|
|Hilton: Hampton Inn||Cash accepted, policy varies by location||Varies, expect rates around $200/night cash deposit|
|Choice Hotels: Quality Inn||Cash accepted, policy varies by location||Varies, expect rates around $200 cash deposit|
|Wyndham Hotels: Days Inn||Cash accepted, policy varies by location||Varies, expect rates around $150 cash deposit|
|IHG: Holiday Inn||Cash accepted, policy varies by location||Varies, expect rates around $150 cash deposit|
Tips for Booking a Hotel Without a Credit Card
If you’re dead set against using a credit card, there are other options to consider. These include using a debit card, buying a prepaid card, or using an online travel agency that allows payment via PayPal.
Although owning a credit card may be something you want to avoid, you can score some serious rewards with the right card. Just make sure you pay your bill off on time.
If you have a bank account, odds are you’ve also got a debit card. If not, you can call your bank to see if you’re eligible. A debit card is linked directly to your bank account, so you won’t be able to charge more money than you have in your account.
When booking a hotel with a debit card, be aware that the security deposit counts as a hold against your total balance. This means you won’t have access to your money until the hold releases.
Online Travel Agencies
OTAs act as a middleman between customers and hotels. They gather pricing information from multiple hotels and present it together in an aggregated way for you.
Some OTAs will allow you to book and pay for your hotel using PayPal. PayPal, in turn, allows you to link your bank account as a payment method; then you can use PayPal to pay for your hotel.
Hotwire, Orbitz, Hotels.com, and Expedia are OTAs that allow you to book and pay using PayPal.
You may not have a credit card and don’t want to get a debit card, so a prepaid card could be an option. Depending on where you’re staying, you can opt to purchase a reloadable card and use that to book. Not all chains accept these, however, so you’ll need to verify with each hotel before doing so.
Look for Non-Chain Hotels
Although many big chain hotels may not allow you to book without a credit card, some smaller, boutique hotels might. Look for individually owned hotels with phone numbers you can call to speak to the owner or manager. Because they don’t report to a corporation, they may be more flexible about allowing you to book without using a credit card.
Experian. "The History of Credit Cards." Accessed June 9, 2021.
PayPal. "Start Spending Less Time Checking Out and More Time Getting Away." Accessed June 9, 2021.