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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm guessing I'm not the only one on this board going sans plastic in an attempt to be frugal and/or because of debt, but what about making travel accommodations? I've just been informed I need to take a work trip to San Diego (I'll have to fly from San Francisco) at the end of this month and I have to front my own expenses and then be reimbursed later. The trip is a must so I can't waste energy being annoyed that its last minute or that I'm not made of money lol. Most of my travel has been via car and crashing with friends/family, so taking a flight and booking a hotel is a bit unfamiliar.

I did some browsing and it seems that its customary to just use your credit card to book airfare/hotel and while I understand the guarantee of payment those offer, there must be other options and I am just not looking in the right place. Any ideas? I'm also very interested in keeping costs low, so any general tips for that would be appreciated too.
 

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Generally you cannot book or pay for a hotel or rental car without a card. They consider it suspicious activity and many just do not take cash or checks. There are exceptions, of course, we used to get cars from Enterprise, but it was a hassle (forms, multiple IDs, proof of residence, background check, etc.) and they made us feel criminal every time.

The hotel (and probably the car rental) will charge a temporary security deposit against your card, anywhere from 1-3x the expected cost of your bill. So if your hotel bill is expected to be $700, they will charge $1400, and then reverse it when you actually check out. If your card limit is $1000, it will come back declined, and you'll have to ask them to only charge the actual fee for the room, or limit the amount of security deposit they charge.

And of course, if the security deposit causes your card to hit it's limit, you can't use it for anything else on the trip.

You may be able to use traveler's checks, of course it's not a check any more but a debit card.

We use our bank debit card (backed by a national CC) to make travel arrangements without a problem. If you don't have a debit card, your bank should be able to get you one within 10 days.
 

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I would ask your employer how you're supposed to arrange for this trip. Tell them you have chosen not to own credit cards. Maybe they'll cover the trip for you rather than making you scrape up the money and then pay you back.
 

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We have never traveled with a credit card, and never had a problem. I just use our debit card as a visa, no problem. We rarely rent a car though, and I admit that rental cars are more of a pain with a debit than with a credit card. Though, now that I think about it, we drove a rental car down to Disney last year. I reserved it with the debit card, then I paid cash up front when I picked it up and it was was seriously no big deal at all. No multiple ids, background checks, anything like that. Just, ID on DH and I, since we were both listed as drivers, and proof of insurance, which is pretty standard I think.

I will say though, I have never booked an actual hotel with the debit card. When we travel, we rent timeshare condos and just pay in full when we book using the debit. My mom has booked hotels using her debit card and I don't think she's ever had a problem with hotels reserving double the price or anything like that.

I will also say, whenever I had to travel for work back when I was working, they made the travel arrangements for me. And DH is being told he has to start travelling some for work, they have booked some of his arrangements, but he also just got set up with a company card (that he assures me he is NOT a signer on, he better not be)
 

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yep. debit card here too...just keep in mind that with debit cards, you may not get the chargeback for up 10 - 14 days, so you need to prepare in advance for that. safe travels.
 

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Dh who travels extensively internationally and nationally said the same as CH almost to the letter.
He advises to see if your co. will spring for the fee (green amerx $50-$90.) a year. The travel points will then be yours but your also the card holder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hmmm well I won't be needing a rental car so that is one less hassle. I do have a debit card which I had planned to use to cover food/incidentals. I guess using it to book the hotel is an option, however if they're going to charge a very large security deposit (and I get why) it will be a huge inconvenience to not have access to my funds for 10+ days when I already don't have tons of funds available. I could try negotiating this and see what happens.

I'm not familiar with traveler's checks, but I can check with my bank and see if they offer them and how they might assist me on the trip.

The company will not cover the trip. Basically this is training for a promotion (yay!) which means a huge boost in salary, better benefits, lower stress, proper use of my degree, etc. They used to make travel accommodations for employees, but got burned too many times by people just not showing up. I'm sure they disciplined those people, but I can understand not wanting to go through the hassle. So now the policy is employees front load travel costs, show up, and then they reimburse. They also will not consider offering a company card since travel is only required 1-2 times per year. Truthfully a company credit card freaks me out and I don't even want one lol.
 

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It's not legal for them to charge your account until the service is provided or money is actually due. Usually businesses take your card number just for security, but don't actually charge something like a deposit to it unless they decide you owe them something upon checkout. So all they really should charge you for up front is the room and any fees or taxes associated with that, which you will absolutely have to pay. When you check out, then they should determine if you've made phone calls or used their expensive items from the mini-fridge in the room or whatever and then is when they should charge your card for those things.

That's my understanding anyway, but be sure to ask them when you book the room in case I'm wrong. I know that's how it worked when we've paid cash for hotel rooms. They require a card number in case we trashed the room or something, but the card was never charged.
 

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Hmmm well I won't be needing a rental car so that is one less hassle. I do have a debit card which I had planned to use to cover food/incidentals. I guess using it to book the hotel is an option, however if they're going to charge a very large security deposit (and I get why) it will be a huge inconvenience to not have access to my funds for 10+ days when I already don't have tons of funds available. I could try negotiating this and see what happens.

I'm not familiar with traveler's checks, but I can check with my bank and see if they offer them and how they might assist me on the trip.

The company will not cover the trip. Basically this is training for a promotion (yay!) which means a huge boost in salary, better benefits, lower stress, proper use of my degree, etc. They used to make travel accommodations for employees, but got burned too many times by people just not showing up. I'm sure they disciplined those people, but I can understand not wanting to go through the hassle. So now the policy is employees front load travel costs, show up, and then they reimburse. They also will not consider offering a company card since travel is only required 1-2 times per year. Truthfully a company credit card freaks me out and I don't even want one lol.
AAA offers "travelers checks" in the form of a prepaid card. My daughter used this option a few years ago when she traveled to Europe. I honestly don't remember if it was Visa, AmEx or MC. I also don't remember how much it cost.

Truthfully, your best bet on a hotel is to probably call the hotels you are interested in and see how it works. It sounds to me like different hotels have different policies. Just check and see what the policies are at the hotels you are looking at.
 

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SD is correct that they don't actually charge the security deposit to your card, what they do is "put a hold on funds", which is essentially the same thing. It ties up your money, even though it never leaves your account.
 

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It's not legal for them to charge your account until the service is provided or money is actually due. Usually businesses take your card number just for security, but don't actually charge something like a deposit to it unless they decide you owe them something upon checkout. So all they really should charge you for up front is the room and any fees or taxes associated with that, which you will absolutely have to pay. When you check out, then they should determine if you've made phone calls or used their expensive items from the mini-fridge in the room or whatever and then is when they should charge your card for those things.

That's my understanding anyway, but be sure to ask them when you book the room in case I'm wrong. I know that's how it worked when we've paid cash for hotel rooms. They require a card number in case we trashed the room or something, but the card was never charged.
I think they are allowed to take a hold, like the gas station or like restaurants do. They authorize the card for XYZ amount and then that amount is held for however long. When the actual charge is processed the hold drops off, but until it's processed or it expires, that hold can prevent access to that amount of funds in the account. Lots of hotels don't do the hold, but I believe that they can.
 

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Maybe it's different with a debit card than a CC. We don't have or use a debit card. But that's why I said the OP should check and see for sure how it works with different hotels. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Just an update.....

So I looked into all of your helpful suggestions and found that for most things I can use my debit card and some hotels even take pay pal which was a nice surprise. Unfortunately the training details were revised at the last minute and I'll need to be at multiple locations during the trip and none are near a single hotel or the airport, so they are strongly encouraging a car rental. That added expense, plus the fact that this whole trip is last minute, and the security hold for the hotel just completely blew my already very lean budget.

I contacted the supervisor, explained the situation and flat out said I can't afford to go. I wasn't really sure what to expect since they were adamant that this was my responsibility, but surprisingly they connected me to their travel coordinator who can book and prepay all the accommodations on my behalf. Now if they had done that in the first place I wouldn't have been so freaked out! I strongly suspect I'm not the only one who isn't made of money right now, was blown away by the cost of a last minute trip, and called saying they couldn't go. I'll have to pay the travel agency a booking fee and cover my own food/incidentals, but that is doable.

What a relief! I'm getting a promotion and won't go broke in the process!
 
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So glad you got to use the travel agency for booking and the company will pay up front. Business travel can be so expensive. Some of DH's training trips cost $7000 or more. I don't know why they expect employees can just charge it and wait for reimbursement.

Hope you can still submit meal expenses. After all, you wouldn't be eating out if you weren't on this trip.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Yes they gave me a list of reimbursable expenses (and the max amounts) and meals are definitely on there. The travel company even let it slip when the next training is so I can start planning ahead since its a couple months away. Apparently the travel company is for salaried managers and we lowly employees are supposed to tough it out unless someone is in dire need. With this new job I'll stop being the person that's always in dire need and I can't wait =)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just some updates in case anyone is interested....

I have already taken my trip and using my debit card wasn't as big of a hassle as I expected. Since the hotel and rental car were prepaid I was asked to provide a security hold, each was under $100 and they released from my debit card within 24hrs of my trips end. The rental car company also asked for proof of my return flight since I was using a debit card and not a credit card. That seemed odd to me, but wasn't a huge deal.

The biggest pain was getting places to give me itemized receipts. I thought that was a standard request but customer service people acted like I was asking them to donate a kidney or something. The upside is I'm more aware of how all of this works since I'll have to make this kind of trip 1-2 times a year for this job.
 
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Glad to hear everything worked out for you. I don't have credit cards, either. One time when I stayed at a hotel in NYC, they asked for a deposit, and all I had was cash. I didn't want to give them all of my cash, so they worked with me. I think they put the deposit on my debit card. I was fortunate that I had extra money in the account. Earlier in my life I was living paycheck to paycheck...it would have been a real problem. That's when I was still using credit cards, though.

I've rented cars at Enterprise with a debit card. They needed a large deposit, but returned it very quickly. I wasn't able to rent at Avis. I recently put a freeze on my credit reports, and they turned me down. I ended up taking the bus.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yeah the car rental thing is odd. I've had no issues renting at Avis with my debit card, but Enterprise was a huge pain when I had to use them last month. If Avis isn't an option I may try Hertz or National and see how they are with debit cards.
 

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I'm almost positive you need a credit card to book air travel. Renting a car with debit or cash can be a challenge at some companies. I think you can pay a cash deposit on car...I think it's difficult to travel even with just debit card as some of the small gas stations will charge $250 hold on a tank of gas purchased at the pumps. It can be really big problem when your funds are not available when you try to check into hotel. Cash payment for mid-level no frills hotels like Super 8 is very common. Lots of the hotel's car traveling customers are cash customers.
 

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just thinking out loud, I understand the reasons behind not having credit cards anymore but if you have none, doesn't that affect your credit score? or do debit cards contribute to your credit score?
 
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