5 min read

Cash or Card for Hotel Stays: Navigating Payment Dilemmas

Ever been caught at check-in, cash in hand, only to get the side-eye? Dive into the maze of hotel payment policies and discover if your greenbacks are still king in a plastic world.

Tobi Miles
August 25, 2022

If you have a major credit card, booking a room at a hotel is easy. However, what should travelers that don’t have a credit card do? Is it possible to pay cash for hotels?

There are hotels that will accept cash payments from guests. Yet, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find them because more hotels and resorts are becoming cashless. Travelers are more likely to find locally owned hotels that accept cash than well-known franchises. The complicated part is reserving a room because guests can’t reserve a room without a credit card.

Are you interested in traveling, but haven’t booked a trip because you don’t have a credit card? Arranging a hotel room with cash payment is possible, but it will take more work on your behalf.

In the age where hotels send digital invitations for us to make a reservation, cash isn't a common way to pay.

But today, we’re going to discuss everything a traveler should know about paying cash for hotels. We will break down what you should know and discuss what problems you may run into. Before you go, we will also let you know of some great hotels that accept cash payments.

Can You Pay For A Hotel Room With Cash?

Some hotels will allow guests to pay for the hotel room with cash at check-in and check-out. This practice is becoming less popular. However, if you want to use paper money instead of leaving a digital trail, it is possible.

Almost every hotel requires guests to use their credit cards when reserving a room. If you are paying with cash only, this is where you can run into some difficulties. Many hotels will allow guests to reserve the room with a credit card and then pay with cash at checkout.

So, what does a guest do if they don’t have a credit card? If you don’t have a credit card, you will need to make some phone calls. Instead of looking at major hotel franchises, start looking at smaller locally-owned lodging.

Once you find a hotel that accepts cash, the challenge will be reserving the room. If you live within driving distance, you can make a cash deposit. Yet, for the majority of travelers, this isn’t an option they have.

In this situation, you should phone the hotel and personally speak to the manager. Depending on how busy the location is, the manager may make an exception. It is likely that you’ll be charged a cash security deposit when you arrive. With some hotels, this deposit isn’t refundable.

Related Read: Can You Live In A Hotel?

Can You Get A Hotel Room Without A Credit Card?

Most hotels won’t allow guests to reserve a hotel room without a credit card. This means that if you don’t have a credit card, you will not be able to use a travel agency or book a reservation online.

Travelers that don’t have a credit card have two options for arranging a hotel room with cash.

  1. Find a hotel that accepts cash with rooms available when you arrive (no guarantee)
  2. Call the hotel and speak to the manager about a courtesy reservation. Some hotel managers will approve this request during the off-season when they have more free rooms available.

What Hotels Accept Cash?

The best way to find hotels that accept cash is to search for local hotels in the area that you’re traveling to. Lesser known names are more likely to accept cash payments to get more guests to visit their establishment.

Another option to consider is motels, as you will have better luck finding ones that accept cash and have vacant rooms available. This is a great cash-friendly option to consider. Especially if you’re on a road trip or looking for a cheaper alternative.

There are several hotels that do accept cash at check-in and check-out. However, they will not accept cash for reservations. If you are able to make a reservation with a credit card, you can pay for it with cash at check-in at the following hotel chains:

  • Hyatt
  • Marriott
  • Drury Hotels
  • Radisson
  • IHG brand (includes Holiday Inn, Six Senses, Hotel Indigo, & more)
  • Omni Hotels
  • Red Lion Hotels
  • Quality Inn

Always keep in mind that hotel policies do change per location. Before reserving a room, always contact the hotel personally to learn more about their policy on accepting cash payments.

Related Read: Can You Rent A Hotel Room For A Few Hours?

What If I don’t have a credit card to reserve a hotel room?

Are you without a credit card to reserve a room? Don’t worry, there are still hotels that will allow you to get a room. Some of the hotels you should look into are:

  • Red Roof Inn
  • Park Inn
  • Extended Stay America
  • Motel 6

If these hotels aren’t available where you’re staying, you’re not out of luck. Do a Google search for “hotels that accept cash” in the area you are visiting. This will show you a list of local hotels to call about reserving a room with cash.

Can You Book A Hotel And Pay When You Get There?

Most hotels will not hold a room with a legitimate form of payment. This is because there is a possibility you may be a no-show. They don’t want to take that risk because it could result in a loss of money.

Getting a room reservation without a credit card is more challenging, but it’s not impossible. In this situation, stay away from well-known hotel chains and start looking local.

Also, plan your trip during the off-season. There will be less demand and a better chance that room will be available. This is when hotels are likely to be more flexible with special arrangements for guests.

To arrange a room, you will need to make a courtesy call. This is when you speak to the hotel manager and get them to make an exception. Some smaller hotels will make an exception in the off-season to get your business.

Related Read: Do You Have To Check Out of A Hotel?

Do Hotels Accept Cash Deposits?

If a hotel accepts cash at check-in, then it’s very likely that they will accept a cash deposit. This is something you should always clarify personally with the hotel before you visit.

Every hotel will have its own policy regarding security deposits. It’s common for hotels that do accept cash deposits to make the guest pay the full amount upfront. This avoids having to charge the customer later on.

Make sure you find out what the policy includes. Some hotels keep the deposit, while other hotels have the customers wait while they do a room inspection. This will also give you a better idea of how much cash you need to have for the deposit.

Why Don’t Hotels Accept Cash?

Many hotels are cashless because using a credit card guarantees payment. As we mentioned earlier, no-shows are a problem for hotels. When a room has been reserved with a credit card, the establishment knows it will receive the payment.

Several hotels have a cancellation policy. This policy can’t be honored if the customer doesn’t use a credit card. A cancellation policy means that the guest has up until a certain date to cancel their reservation without charges.

The policy gives the hotel enough time to allow another guest to book a room so they don’t lose money.

Another reason that hotels don’t accept cash is for the security deposit. If the housekeepers discover that something in the hotel room was broken or stolen, the hotel can take the charges from the guest’s credit card.

This is also how hotels are able to charge customers for extra items they used, like pay-per-view movies and items in the mini-fridge.

Related Read: Can You Vape In A Hotel Room?

Can You Pay For A Hotel Room With A Prepaid Visa?

Most hotels will accept a prepaid visa as payment. Before your room is reserved, the establishment will make sure the card has sufficient funds to book the room. An estimated amount that will be higher than your bill will be placed on hold on the prepaid visa.

This hold will ensure that your visa has enough funds to cover the stay and any extra charges you may endure. Once you check out and your bill is processed, the hold will be released.

Can You Pay For A Hotel Room With A Visa Gift Card?

Most hotels don’t accept visa gift cards. This is because gift cards have a limited amount on them. With these cards, hotels are unable to charge the guest for any damages or extra items they may use.

For example, you may want to use a $100 gift card to book a hotel that’s $75 per night. While your gift card has enough money for the room, the hotel will deny it in case of extra charges. If you were to use room service or break a lamp, they wouldn’t be able to charge you.

Can You Check In If Someone Else Pays For A Hotel Room With Their Credit Card?

It is possible to have someone else pay for a hotel room on your behalf with their credit card. However, you will be required to show the hotel a credit card with your name on it, as well as a photo ID.

Your credit card will not be charged for the room. This information is needed in case there are any incidents with the room.

Article updated:
January 5, 2024

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