When Reserving a Hotel Room, When Do You Pay?

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You’re eager to finalize your trip and reserve your hotel room but you’ve got one small question: when do you pay?

How and when you pay for your hotel room reservation has changed massively in recent years.

A couple of decades ago, most people booked their hotel rooms directly by telephoning, often sourcing the number from a hotel directory or through a travel agent.  

Today, most bookings are done virtually either through an app, website, or third-party online agent.

Reserving a Hotel Room Online

Depending on the site you use or the hotel, different payment options may be available when you reserve a room on a hotel’s website.

Reserving hotel room online tips
Reserving hotel room online

Most hotels these days require the person reserving the room to input their card details, either a debit or credit card.

However, this does not mean that you pay for the booking on the reservation.

Some hotels do this to secure the booking and will only take the fee from the card either when you check in at the hotel or often when you check out.

Additionally – Many hotels have cancellation policies that mean that the card details that have been inputted will be charged a certain percentage (or often the full price) if the room reservation is canceled at some stage before the stay is due to commence.

Some rooms are refundable up until a specific time before the stay, such as 48 hours or even 24 hours before you would be due to arrive.


Hotels can set their own policies on charging for cancellations, so it is important to check the cancellation policy if you reserve a room in this way.

Reserving a Room on an App

Hotel booking apps have grown hugely in popularity within the last ten years.


Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Booking.com
  • Hotels.com
  • Trivago
  • TripAdvisor
  • Expedia
  • HotelTonight
  • Priceline

These apps allow you to browse available hotel rooms anywhere in the world for your dates.

Many of the reservations require immediate payment (especially if you’re booking a discounted rate), but there are usually options to delay payment until you arrive at your hotel.

Reserving room apps
Reserving a room online

Again, many of the hotels have good cancellation policies which may mean you don’t pay at all if you cancel before a certain date or time before arrival.

Aside from the generic hotel booking apps, specific hotel chains have their own apps on which to make bookings.

There are often rewards associated with booking hotels via their apps. This includes the Hilton hotel chain with its Hilton Honors app.

Telephone Bookings

Although telephone bookings are seen as a little old-fashioned these days, many people still prefer this option as they like talking to a real person rather than an online system or bot.

Old-fashioned telephone bookings hotels
Old-fashioned telephone bookings

When telephoning a hotel to make a reservation, the hotel will be able to explain when they would like payment to be made.

Some hotels will take card information over the phone but will only use this as security in case you don’t show up or if guests leave without properly checking out and paying their bill.

For those who prefer to pay in cash, this is still possible at many hotels, even if they have taken a credit card number to secure the reservation.

When telephoning a hotel, it is always best to check whether they will accept cash as payment. Most hotels that you phone will ask that you pay when you check out.

Frequently Asked Questions on When Do You Pay for Your Hotel Reservation

When Do You Pay for Your Hotel Reservation faqs
When do you pay for your hotel reservation

Many people search for the answers to some common questions when it comes to paying for a hotel reservation.

Why not take a look and see if your question has already been answered here.

Can You Pay When You Get There?

Yes! Many hotels allow you to pay either when you arrive or when you check out. However, this is nearly always done on the background of card details being submitted on reservation just in case you’re a no-show.

Hotels simply don’t want to take the risk t that their bookings don’t turn up, so secure the bookings with card details that are only used in the event of a no-show.

What if you don’t have a credit card to reserve a hotel room?

Some people don’t have debit or credit cards to reserve their hotel rooms and secure their booking. Although it is common practice to reserve rooms with a card, some hotels will accept bookings without this security.

Independent, smaller hotels often accept bookings without card reservation. However, some chains also allow reservations to be made even if you don’t have a card.

These are:

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

Which Hotels Require Payment in Advance?

This is a difficult question to answer as individual hotels and hotel chains all have their own policies when it comes to when you pay.

However, it might be reassuring to read that around 90% of hotels today do not require payment in advance. Those that do tend to be special discounted rates or last-minute bookings which are often cheaper.

What are Websites and Apps such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travoline, Kayak and Hotwire?

Websites and apps such as those listed above are rather like travel agents only they’re online rather than a store that you visit. Hotel pages on these apps and websites have replaced the traditional hotel brochures of the past.

They help people find hotel rooms and flights when they want them and for the most affordable price. You can pay for your hotel reservations through the apps and sites by using a credit or debit card. Many of them safely store your card details, making it even easier.

However, as with other ways of booking, this does not mean that they take immediate payment. Usually, the card details are taken for security in case you’re a no-show.


Final Thoughts on Reserving a Hotel Room – When Do You Pay?

Booking a hotel room is often an exciting time, especially if it’s a much-longed-for trip away. However, it can be stressful if you’re trying to reserve a room in advance but don’t quite have the cash in your bank or want to see the room first. When you pay is an important question.

As we’ve explained above, paying for your hotel room is most often done when you are at the hotel, quite often at check-out but sometimes on arrival. Sometimes immediate payment is needed upfront on reserving a room, but this is usually due to the room being a cheaper cost with no changes to the booking being accepted.

However you choose to reserve your hotel room, we hope that you’re reassured of when you’ll have to pay for it.

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