When you stay at a hotel and use a credit card, the hotel doesn’t automatically charge your card. When you make the registration, the hotel might take your card number, but won’t run the card until your stay is ended. They may place a hold on a certain amount, which is not a charge but still reduces your available credit.

Reservations

When you make a hotel reservation, you often need to give a credit card number. This will secure your reservation, meaning the hotel will be able to charge you a cancellation fee if you don’t show. Many hotels charge you nothing if you cancel 24 hours in advance. When you reserve your room, the hotel does not charge your card.

Check In and Check Out

When you check in, the hotel will ask for a credit card to guarantee extra charges, known as incidentals, but it will not run a charge. You can use a different card than the one you used to make your reservation and a different one than you plan to use when you check out. When you check out, the hotel charges your credit card, whether you visit the front desk or not. Check your bill closely before you leave to make sure you aren't charged incorrectly.

Charge vs. Hold

Some hotels place a hold amount on your card when you make your reservation or check in. This reduces the amount of available credit on your card, but it’s not a charge. The hold amount might equal one night’s stay or a daily incidental fee equal to the number of days you’ll stay. The hold is released after you check out and pay. Ask about the hotel’s hold policy if you want to use your card for other charges.