Looking to sneak off for a weekend, but you're worried that your prepaid credit card or gift card won't be accepted to pay for a motel? Never fear – you should be able to use your prepaid plastic for final payment for the motel room. There are a few details, however, that you should be aware of before booking a room at your secret hideaway.
You can typically use a prepaid credit card to make the final payment for your motel room, but you might need to use a regular credit or debit card for the initial reservation. Check with the individual motel before reserving.
Holding a Room
A prepaid credit card will be accepted for final payment at most hotels, motels and car rental companies. That being said, some motels may have a policy that requires a credit card at the time of reservation. These motels will put a hold on the estimated charge for your stay. That means the funds won't be available to you during that time. If you have another credit card, you can use that card to hold the room and then use the prepaid credit card to make the actual payment when you check out. That means the regular credit card shouldn't have charges from the motel appear on the bill because you used the prepaid card.
Using Prepaid Cards Traveling Abroad
Before you book a motel somewhere tropical, take a good look at your card and the packaging in which it arrived. Some cards are valid only in the U.S. There's usually a note on the front of the card if it is limited to domestic use. That means you can't use it at motels outside of the country. Try to watch for this note when you're buying your card. If you already have a card, you may have to consider a trip to Hawaii instead of Mexico.
Paying for Extras
There are cases in which the motel may authorize an open-ended transaction. This will put a hold on an amount that's higher than the cost of the motel room for your planned stay. This helps the motel cover other charges that may come up, such as phone calls, movie rentals, mini-bar costs or extra nights. Some motels and hotels hold these charges for as long as 30 days after your stay to ensure that any long-distance calls or other items billed to the room are covered. If there is an open-ended transaction hold on your card, you should be informed at the time of the reservation or check-in. If you're not sure, ask so you know how much of your available funds will be held on the prepaid card.
Benefits of Prepaid Credit Cards
Prepaid credit cards are a great way to control how much you spend. They can be used to purchase goods online when you don't have a credit card or anywhere else where credit cards are accepted. If you're just finishing school and don't have a credit record, you can use a prepaid card. And because it's more like a debit card – with you spending the money loaded on it instead of going into debt – you'll only spend what you can afford. Just keep an eye on the maintenance fees and other charges that can add up.
- MasterCard Prepaid Cards: Prepaid Debit Card FAQs
- Dave Ramsey: How to Travel Without a Credit Card
- Reloadable Prepaid Debit Cards | American Express Serve®
- Days Inn Florida: Hotel Policy
- FDIC. "2017 FDIC National Survey of Unbanked and Underbanked Households." Accessed Oct. 15, 2020.
- Experian. "Do Prepaid Credit Cards Help Credit Scores?" Accessed Oct. 15, 2020.
Darlene Peer has been writing, editing and proofreading for more than 10 years. Peer has written for magazines and contributed to a number of books. She has worked in various fields, from marketing to business analysis. Peer received her Bachelor of Arts in English from York University.