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Do Hotels Take Cash? 7 Things to Know

Do hotels take cash? In today’s cashless environment, hotel reservations are booked and paid for using a credit card. Paying electronically has been so commonplace that travelers may be hard-pressed to find hotels that accept cash payments.

Why do hotels prefer this practice, and is it still possible to book a hotel without a credit card? Do any hotels take cash, and how does one go about paying for a reservation with paper money?

Why do some hotels accept debit cards in lieu of credit cards, and others don’t? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. Why are most hotels cashless?

hand full of credit cards

Do hotels take cash? Before completely foregoing the credit card, you need to understand that you won’t find it easy to book a hotel without one. You’ll also find it even harder to find hotels that take cash no deposit.

Hotels that take cash payments are few and far in between, and a majority of today’s hotels will require you to make an initial card payment before booking a room.

There are three reasons for this:

Hotels want to hold you liable in case of a no-show

The main and most important reason why hotels only accept credit cards is that they want to hold you responsible for any cancellations that might happen.

Imagine this scenario: when you reserve a room, the hotel removes the availability of that hotel room on the date you specified. The moment you cancel, the hotel loses money on a room that could have been reserved for an attending customer.

When you make an initial deposit via credit card, the hotel can hold you liable in case of a no-show by charging you a certain amount for your cancellation. In other words, paying with a credit card lessens the chance that you cancel your reservation.

Hotels want to guarantee your extras

Do hotels take cash? Another reason why a majority don’t is that they want to guarantee your taxes and extra charges. This could take on many forms, including damage to your room, stolen items, bar bill, smoking charge, mini bar usage, and city taxes.

Credit cards are necessary because if suddenly at the end of your stay, you don’t have enough cash on hand, there’s really not much a hotel can do.

Also, without your credit card, you can easily leave the hotel without the courtesy of passing by the reception to cover your extra charges.

Hotels have adapted to the credit-card-using traveler

Let’s face it, there’s nothing safe about lugging around large amounts of money. Seasoned travelers are concerned about their safety and would rather bring a credit card than stash their wallets with bills.

The hospitality industry knows this and has adjusted its methods of accepting payments. (If you are traveling with cash, make sure to have a good travel wallet with you!) 

2. Why do some hotels only accept credit cards and not debit cards?

credit card machine

While some travelers ask, ‘Do hotels take cash?’, another hot question is why some hotels are credit-card exclusive only when debit cards are a legitimate payment option.

This is due to a number of reasons. 

Lack of reservations software

Visa and Mastercard debit cards are often accepted by hotels as they can also be used in credit mode, but other debit cards are for debit only.

This means that a guest has to input their PIN number in order to pay for expenses and some hotels do not have the reservations software for this. 

There may not be enough money on your debit card

Hotels place an authorization on your credit card to secure payment that is equal to the amount of your anticipated stay, plus an additional percentage to cover incidental charges.

If your stay is longer than anticipated, there may not be enough funds in your debit card to cover the additional amount during checkout.

Hotels are more partial to credit cards as the risk of not being able to pay is considerably lowered when credit cards are used.

Guests can incur overdrafts 

When you pay for a hotel room using a debit card, the hotel pre-authorizes the total amount of your stay, plus 10 or 20 percent more to cover extras. 

For example, if you reserve a room for five days at $100 per day – this equates to at least $600 with the extras added. After pre-authorization, this amount is frozen in your debit card.

Even if you check out earlier than anticipated, you cannot touch this money in your debit account until the hold drops off in about a week.

If you aren’t careful, you could end up in overdraft or have returned checks.

3. Can hotels refuse to accept cash?

hotel reception desk

Do hotels take cash, and do they have the right to refuse a cash payment? As of 2021, there is no federal law in the United States that prevents a hotel from refusing cash payments.

Provided, of course, that the credit-card-only policy is communicated to the guest before the guest stays at the property.  

Hotels, however, should still exercise caution if it chooses to refuse cash payments. Do note that most individuals without access to credit cards are minorities, and concerns may be raised that a hotel’s refusal to take cash is a pretext for racial discrimination.  

In a nutshell, hotels that refuse cash payments do not violate any state or federal laws. There is, however, some form of minimal risk of a lawsuit alleging discrimination, be it racial or otherwise.

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4. What are the advantages of going cash-free for hotels?

credit card machine at a computer

Better security: Without cash on the premises, the risk of armed robbery or burglary is reduced.

Faster service: Hotels that rely on credit cards spend less time fiddling with checking change. This gives them more time in their hands to take care of customers.

Less stress: Credit card payments and contactless transactions make life easier for hotel staff, especially during high-traffic periods. Accepting credit card payments also means that managers don’t have to go through the time-consuming task of recording transactions, banking cash, and balancing takings against receipts.

5. What are the disadvantages of going cash-free for hotels?

Wallet with credit cards

Accessibility: Not all people have credit cards. While those without credit cards are beginning to become a minority, they are still a substantial market segment.

This includes people who have been denied cards for having a poor credit rating or those who do not have a fixed abode. In addition, tourists from other countries may prefer to pay in cash to avoid adverse charges and exchange rates.

Privacy: Some nationalities are more sensitive about handing over their data in transactions they make.  

6. How can you pay a hotel in cash?

Paying in cash

Do hotels take cash? While we already established that most do not, you may be able to find hotels in your area that do. Even if you do not, there may still be credit-card exclusive hotels that may be able to bend their rules for you. Here’s everything you need to know about hotels that take cash payments and how to pay with cash. 

Step 1: Look for a cash-accepting hotel

It may be very challenging to find a high-end hotel that accepts cash payments. Today, most cash-accepting hotels are on the lower end, which means you’ll have better chances of paying cash when booking rooms from economy hotels or motels

Local nonchain hotels may be more amenable to accepting cash, as they’re not tied to various corporate procedures. So what hotels take cash? Hotels in Sacramento that take cash include the Embassy Suites by Hilton Sacramento Riverfront Promenade and Holiday Inn Express & Suites.

Hotels that take cash in Chicago include Marriott Hotels and Crowne Plaza Hotels. Hotels that take cash in Las Vegas include Ellis Island Hotel and Wynn Las Vegas.

Vancouver hotels that take cash include Hotel Ambassador and Holiday Inn Express.  Do note that most hotels that accept cash payments will require you to make a sizeable deposit to cover liabilities, so paying in cash might not be the best option if you’re skimping

Step 2: Call the hotel

Once you have a hotel in mind, call them and talk to a representative about the hotel’s payment policy and how you can pay in cash. Some hotels that claim to be credit-card exclusive may still be able to do some rule-bending depending on your situation, so don’t be afraid to call any hotel you like. 

Some hotels will require you to reserve the room with a credit card, and then pay in cash once you’ve arrived. Others, however, will simply allow you to walk in. 

Step 3: Pay the deposit 

Because you’re paying with cash, know that you won’t be able to make an online reservation. If you’re looking to reserve a room ahead of time, you need to visit the hotel and make a cash deposit, if required. If you cannot visit the hotel, you may be required to give your credit card number to hold the room. 

If you’re walking in, pay for the room security deposit once it’s time to check in. Request a receipt of your payment so you can prove that you paid for the room. If you’re staying at a hotel in another country for an extended period, make sure you’re covered with travel insurance

Step 4: Collect your security deposit

On the day of your checkout, return to the front desk and show your receipt. You’ll have to wait for your room to be inspected to receive your security deposit minus any fees, which may include expenses like items from the minibar or in-room movies. 

7. What are other ways to pay with cash?

person holding cash

Apart from making cash deposits and paying with cash directly at the hotel, there are other ways to pay a hotel with cash. From coordinating with a travel agency to paying through bank deposit, here’s what you can do if you have no credit card. 

Pay through travel agencies

Travel agencies don’t only book tours or cater to airline tickets payment. Some travel agents can also help you with hotel reservation payments.

Make a reservation through the travel agency’s website, and choose to pay with cash. Once you’re done making reservations, the travel agent will give you instructions about where you can place your cash payment for reservations.  

Pay through a bank deposit 

Do hotels take cash? Some hotels will allow you to pay with cash directly to their bank accounts without having to use a credit card. Ask the hotel you’re interested in if this option is possible.

Once you’ve booked your reservation, the hotel will send you their bank account details where you can deposit your initial fee. Hotels will usually ask you to pay the bank deposit days or a week in advance. 

Once you’ve made the payment, the hotel will ask you to send a copy of the receipt as proof. Always make sure that the bank account you’re sending the money to is accurately named after the hotel or its owner. Many travelers have fallen prey to fraudsters, so make sure to verify the hotel’s genuine bank account. 

Pay through Paypal

If you do not have your own bank account, you can also try paying for your booking through Paypal or other payment services. A lot of hotels have partnered up with Paypal, so check if the hotel allows this payment option before making your booking

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