| June 17, 2010

Card holds mean travelers need to pack extra money

Travelers who use their debit cards need to be good at money management and make sure they have extra cash in their bank account if they plan on using the card to pay for their hotel room.

Many companies put holds on accounts for additional amounts of money to ensure that funds are available should they need to access them.

“Hotels commonly do this, and so do gas stations,” reports Clark Howard of WSBTV in Atlanta. “There’s no law that makes companies tell you they’re doing it.”

Hotels place a hold on credit or debit cards to cover incidental charges such as parking, mini bar items, movies and room damage. The hotel will hold the amount needed to cover the cost of the guest’s entire stay including tax, plus an additional amount that varies from company to company.

If consumers aren’t aware of these holds, their bank account could go into the red and their bank may charge overdraft fees. Consumers may also suddenly find their card declined because of the additional hold.

The Federal Trade Commission recommends that travelers call their debit card issuer prior to travel to find out how long a hold will remain on their account. Some banks do offer overdraft protection programs that may help consumers avoid running out of money while traveling.

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