How to Book a Hotel Without a Traditional Credit Card in Canada
If you’re new to credit or have a blemished credit history, you might be wondering how to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada. Most hotels require a credit card for booking to protect themselves from unexpected costs – like if you clean out the mini bar and take off without paying! (Seriously, don’t do that!).
That makes finding appropriate accommodation especially tricky. Here’s how to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada. Plus, we explain why it’s easier to use a credit card, in case you’re dying to know, as well as how to choose the right hotel for your situation.
Most hotels require a credit card to book a room. But if you don’t have a working credit card, don’t qualify for one, or don’t want to use your credit card for whatever reason – the struggle is real! Here’s how to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada.
Try a prepaid card
If you’re wondering how to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada, a prepaid credit card is your best option. Many hotels accept prepaid credit cards, but not all of them do and not all prepaid cards are accepted. Even though this is your go-to option, you still need to proceed with caution and have a backup method of payment. Before you book, call and ask the hotel if they accept prepaid cards for booking, check-in, and payment. Yes, all three!
A prepaid credit card functions like a debit card but is accepted where most major credit cards are accepted. But not all prepaid cards are created equal. Hotels almost certainly reject an anonymous prepaid card, like the kind you can purchase with cash at a gas station or convenience store, for example.
The trick is to get a prepaid card from a financial institution that requires you to open an account and verify your identity. You will have much better luck booking a hotel room without a credit card using a prepaid credit card that has your name embossed on it, and link to an account that collected your personal information upon opening. These types of prepaid cards are offered by several banks and financial service providers in Canada.
Here are the top 3 best prepaid cards that make it easier to book a hotel without a credit card:
KOHO Prepaid Mastercard
KOHO is a Canadian fintech company that offers a prepaid Mastercard with no annual fees. A basic account is free, but you can access advanced features like no foreign transaction fees and free foreign ATM withdrawals with a paid plan. The card functions similarly to a debit card, but it’s accepted anywhere that Mastercard is.
Once you open an account with KOHO, you’ll get instant access to a virtual card while you wait for the physical one to arrive in the mail. Load your account with funds by direct deposit, eTransfer or debit-credit card. Your KOHO card can then be used for transactions both online and in-person. The KOHO card is a great option if you’re wondering how to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada, as most hotels accept Mastercard.
Neo Money Card
Neo is one of the best Canadian neobanks offering a feeless prepaid Mastercard. Like KOHO, the Neo Money Card acts like a debit card that can be used where major credit cards are accepted. First, you need to open a Neo Money Account and then load it with funds.
You can add funds to your account by direct deposit, eTransfer, or by linking an external bank account at another Canadian financial institution. Once your account is funded, you can use your Neo Money Card wherever Mastercard is accepted, online and in person. Neo also offers one of the best cash back reward programs on eligible purchases, which can help you save up for your next adventure.
EQ Bank Card
EQ Bank is Canada’s OG digital bank known for its high-interest savings account. They offer a prepaid Mastercard that combines the convenience of a credit card with the control of a debit card. We especially love this card because ATM withdrawals within Canada are free and EQ will reimburse you any fees charged by the network providers. The EQ Bank Card is a stellar option if you want to know how to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada.
You’ll need to open an EQ Savings Plus Account and order your card. However, the card is not directly linked to your account. Once activated, you need to move funds from your main EQ account to your EQ Card account. You can deposit money to your EQ account by direct deposit, eTransfer, linking an external bank account, or by cheque through the EQ app.
Use a secured credit card
Are you struggling to book a hotel without a credit card because you don’t qualify for a credit card? A secured credit card is a type of credit card designed specifically for people with a limited or poor credit history. It works just like a regular credit card but requires a security deposit as collateral. This deposit is usually equal to your credit limit, and it’s held by the card issuer to protect them in case you default on your payments.
Because of this security deposit, secured cards are easier to qualify for than traditional credit cards, and some even offer guaranteed approval. They’re a great tool for building or rebuilding your credit, as most card issuers report your payment history to the major credit bureaus.
When you’re ready to book a hotel, you can use your secured credit card just like a regular credit card. Simply provide your card details when making a reservation. It’s essential, though, to ensure you have enough credit available on your card to cover the cost of your stay and any additional fees, such as security deposits or incidentals.
By using a secured card responsibly and paying your balance on time, you can improve your credit history and eventually transition to an unsecured credit card with better terms and benefits.
Here are a few of the best secured credit cards in Canada that you can use to book a hotel room:
Neo Secured Credit
The Neo Secured Credit Card is an outstanding option for Canadians looking to build or rebuild their credit – and hands down the best secured card in Canada right now. With no credit check required and guaranteed approval for Canadian residents who meet the age requirements and can provide the security funds, this card offers a smooth entry into the world of credit. Neo Financial reports to TransUnion, which means using this card responsibly can help to improve your credit score.
Starting with the lowest minimum security deposit of just $50, the Neo Secured Credit Card is an accessible option for many. The interest rates range from 19.99% to 26.99% based on your credit profile, and there’s no annual fee to worry about. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Neo cardholders are rewarded with at least 0.5% instant cash back on all purchases. Even better, you can earn up to an impressive 15% cash back on your first purchase at any of Neo’s partner merchants. With partnerships spanning over 10,000 businesses across Canada, most Neo customers earn an average cash back of 5%, making the Neo Secured Credit Card not only an excellent tool for building credit but also one of the best cash back secured credit cards on the market.
Home Trust Visa
Interest rate: 14.90% or 19.99%
Annual fee: $0 – $59
Security deposit: $500
Authorized users: Yes
*Not available in Quebec
The Home Trust Secured Visa is designed for Canadians who might not qualify for traditional credit cards. With this card, you can establish or rebuild your credit while enjoying the convenience of a regular credit card. It requires a security deposit, which can range from $500 to $10,000 – your credit limit is equal to the deposit you provide.
The card with no annual fee comes with a standard interest rate. If you want the low-interest rate card, you’ll need to pay a $59 annual fee. The Home Trust Secured Visa is accepted at millions of locations worldwide, wherever Visa is accepted. It also reports your payment history to the credit bureaus, helping you build your credit over time. This an excellent option if you’re wondering how to book a hotel without a credit card.
CapitalOne Secured Mastercard
Interest rate: 19.80% on purchases, 21.90% on cash advances
Annual fee: $59
Security deposit: $75
The CapitalOne Secured Mastercard is a solid option for Canadians with less-than-perfect credit. This card requires a security deposit, which serves as collateral for your account. Your credit limit is typically equal to the deposit amount, but not always. Sometimes the credit limit is more than the requested security deposit.
The card comes with an annual fee, but it’s a small price to pay for the opportunity to build your credit history. The CapitalOne Secured Mastercard is accepted worldwide, making it a versatile tool for everyday purchases, online shopping, and even booking a hotel. It’s a great choice if you’re serious about rebuilding your credit.
Try a debit-credit card
A debit-credit card offers a practical solution for those looking to book a hotel without a credit card. Similar to prepaid credit cards, debit-credit cards combine the features of both debit and credit cards, but are issued by big banks and credit unions. They are linked directly to your daily chequing account, which allows you to make purchases using the funds in you already have.
There are two types of debit-credit cards in Canada, Visa debit cards and Mastercard debit cards. Because it is a debit card that is co-branded with a major credit card company and compatible with their payment network, debit-credit cards are widely accepted just like a credit card. This can be a particularly useful option if you don’t have a credit card or if you prefer not to use one.
When you’re ready to book a hotel, just provide your debit-credit card details as you would with a regular credit card. Keep in mind that the hotel may place a temporary hold on a portion of your funds to cover any incidental charges. Make sure you have enough money in your account to accommodate this.
In this way, a debit-credit card can provide an easy and convenient way to live without a credit card. It’s a win-win situation that allows you to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada.
Use an online travel agency (OTA)
OTAs are businesses, like Expedia and Hotels.com, that serve as middlemen between hotels and potential customers. They exist to reduce the complexities and difficulties that make it hard to find, book, and score a great deal on hotel rooms.
A major service of OTAs is curating price details of different hotels to make for an easy read for customers. They also provide booking and payment portals that offer alternatives to credit cards, like PayPal and debit-credit cards. If you have an active PayPal account, your bank account is most likely already linked. If not, you can easily set one up to get started with OTAs like Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.
Important note: the PayPal portal on OTAs might only serve to book your reservation and pay for the room but probably won’t be accepted for the security deposit. Most hotels require a credit card in order to place pre-authorized “hold funds” on your account for incidentals. If you don’t have a credit card or other accepted form of payment at check-in, they may refuse accommodation. Some might even refund you for the booking, but not many do so don’t bank on it.
Each OTA has a policy on how they help with booking hotels – either foreign or local. Do more research on each OTA to find the right one for your situation.
Get in touch with smaller, non-chain hotels
How to book a hotel without a credit card in Canada Pro Tip! Smaller and independent hotels tend to be much more flexible. They are more likely to accept alternative payment methods like cheques, cash, debit cards, etc. You can avoid credit card trouble if you compromise and opt for something more modest from a small chain or non-chain hotel.
So, if you don’t have a fancy credit card and would love a safe stay at your destination, find independent hotels. Your aim should be to speak with the owner or manager. It’s easier to negotiate convenient booking and payment options here because they don’t report to a larger corporation with rigid policies. Once you get in touch, you can confirm more details about the room, location, etc., as well as the payment methods they’re willing to accept.
Book over the phone
If you’re trying to book a hotel without a credit card, picking up the phone can be a smart move. Often, hotels are more flexible when you’re speaking with them directly. Just call the hotel’s front desk and ask about their payment options. They might accept a debit card, cash, or sometimes even a cheque as a deposit.
However, the disadvantage to using a debit card to manage your hotel booking is that you get a hold on your account for the security deposit. You won’t be able to use the money as long as the hold continues. So, if you book a month ahead, you get a one-month hold on the money.
If you’re a regular guest or if you’re staying for an extended period, the hotel might even waive the credit card requirement. Remember, it never hurts to ask, and you might be pleasantly surprised by the options available to you. Plus, there’s something pleasantly nostalgic about making a reservation the old-fashioned way.
Ask about cash payments
When asking if a hotel accepts cash, be prepared for a resounding ‘no.’ Accepting cash puts hotels at risk. Though, smaller chain hotels recognize their target audience and may accept a cash payment. Independent hotels may ask for a cash security deposit to book your room. The security deposit is in addition to the total room cost.
For major hotel chains, you may be lucky to get the option of switching payment to cash during checkout. But you can’t book with cash, and you may not even be able to check in with cash.
Get someone else to book for you
If you have a family member or friend that’s nice enough, you can book with their credit card info. They’ll add you as a guest. Then, you can check in on your own. Be ready to provide a valid means of identification at both reservation and check-in. You can also inquire about booking with another card, then changing the payment method when checking in or out.
Consider Airbnb & VRBO instead of a hotel
If hotels aren’t flexible enough for your non-credit card needs, why not try Airbnb or VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner)? These platforms offer a diverse range of accommodations from entire homes to private rooms, and they’re often more lenient when it comes to payment methods.
For example, Airbnb allows guests to pay with many different options, including PayPal and debit cards. VRBO also offers various payment options depending on the host’s preferences. These platforms give you the opportunity to stay in unique spaces and often provide a more personal experience compared to traditional hotels.
How to find the right hotel in Canada for your situation
There are many hotel options for travellers in Canada, regardless of where you want to go. Nevertheless, narrowing down the location considerably shrinks the pool of choices. Once you pick a specific destination, the rest of these tips should help you book a hotel in Canada with ease.
Figure out where you want to go & what you need before you book
This goes without saying. For some of us, navigating a foreign city is stressful. You can avoid getting overwhelmed by going over your travel plans and figuring out a suitable location to book a hotel. Google Maps should help pick out hotels not far from the hotspots you want to visit.
Check the online reviews
There is no shortage of sites that offer honest guest reviews of hotels. Such reviews allow you to assess customer satisfaction within the hotels on your list that relate to amenities, facilities, and experience. This should help narrow down the options even further.
Book directly through the hotel whenever possible
Travel agencies are more convenient and save you the hassle of making calls. Still, they are essentially middlemen, and such intermediaries need to make money.
In other words, you are footing a more expensive bill than you need for that extra convenience. Therefore, we advise booking directly with the hotel and saving you some cash.
Look for hotel rewards
Take note of loyalty programs and rewards offered by hotels. This is more common with big-name hotels and could enhance your travel experience. In many cases, such hotels offer rewards to customers with point-earning hotel credit cards such as the Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card.
Through these loyalty programs and the associated hotel credit cards, you can earn some of the following:
- Free night certificates
- Signup bonuses
- Bonus points and credits
- Elite status, etc.
Why do most hotels require a credit card?
Even though accommodation is an essential part of travel, trying to book a hotel without a credit card can be unnecessarily complicated. Why the heck is it so hard, don’t they want your money? Yes, they just don’t want to expose themselves to certain risks.
Credit cards are the best tool hotels have to protect themselves from potential financial loss. A credit card helps the hotel mitigate risks like damage or theft. Here are some specific reasons hotels require credit cards to confirm room booking:
When hotels have your credit card information on file, payment is almost guaranteed. It’s easier for merchants to charge your credit card without you present, unlike most debit cards which require you to be physically present to enter your PIN. With a credit card, hotels can charge you whatever is necessary to cover the cost of your stay – especially if they discover damage or theft after you have checked out and are long gone.
Credit cards usually have a spending limit much higher than the balance in your bank account, or cash in your pocket. For instance, if you damage something during your stay, there’s a good chance your credit card will cover it or at least a portion of it, even if you don’t have any money in your bank account. The same goes for theft.
Furthermore, if you suddenly cancel your booking without due notice, the hotel can recoup some of the loss according to their cancellation policy. Before booking a hotel, read the terms and conditions on what the hotel can and can’t do with your credit card.
Pre-authorized “hold funds”
The hotel will put a hold on the card for a certain amount of money. This means that the sum is earmarked for the hotel. The hold reduces your available funds for spending, even though payment hasn’t actually been processed yet. This reduces the hotel’s risk exposure by ensuring they will get at least some money from you instead of zero money.
Hotels experience rush hours and periods of high demand, just like any other business. But no one likes to be delayed or inconvenienced, even when they see how busy the hotel attendants are trying to check people in and out. If your credit card information was taken at booking, checkouts are a lot faster. Sometimes, all you have to do is drop your key off at the front desk at the end of your reservation, then leave. Attendants can take care of charging your card later when the rush is over.
Additional room charges & other expenses
When you visit a hotel, there’s a good chance you’ll end up spending more than just the cost of the room. For instance, you may decide to order room service, like a fancy dinner from the hotel restaurant and charge it to your room, or clear out the mini-bar.
It can be hard to keep track of your spending while on holiday, and you may run out of cash on hand to cover all the additional charges. Rather than getting stranded trying to sort out the situation, your credit card can end a stressful scenario before it starts.
Prevent employee theft & armed robbery
Using a credit card to book a hotel is actually a lot safer for you. It helps prevent employees from stealing your stuff, which helps protect both you and the hotel from loss because they would be liable. If hotels deal with cash, there is a higher chance an unscrupulous employee will be tempted to steal it. However, providing services on a cashless basis almost eliminates that risk entirely.
Similarly, if hotels don’t hold cash payments, they are at less risk of being targeted for a robbery. Also, because employees don’t have to deposit cash into the bank, there’s a lower risk of running into problems while moving large sums of money from the hotel to the bank.
FAQs about how to book a hotel without a credit card
Many hotels accept prepaid cards for incidentals if it has your name embossed on is linked to an account that verified your personal information. However, there are still many hotels that require a credit card due to the ability to place holds for potential charges. It’s best to check with the hotel beforehand.
Hotels typically hold anywhere from $50 to $200 or more per day for incidentals. The exact amount can vary depending on the hotel and the length of your stay.
Yes, you can book a hotel without a credit card. Some hotels accept prepaid cards, debit-credit cards, cash, or even online payment methods like PayPal. However, policies vary widely, so it’s best to check with the hotel in advance.
Yes, many hotels allow you to split the payment between two credit cards. You’ll need to let the hotel know when you check in or at the time of payment.
Yes, a hotel can charge your credit card after you leave if you have unpaid charges, such as room service, mini-bar items, or damage to the room. This is precisely why many hotels require a credit card for booking.
Yes, you can book a hotel with someone else’s credit card, but you’ll typically need written permission from the cardholder, and they might need to provide a copy of their ID and credit card. Alternatively, they can book the hotel for you with their credit card and inform the hotel that you are the guest checking in give them your full name as it appears on your ID.
Yes, you can use a secured credit card to book a hotel, as it functions like a regular credit card. Just make sure you have enough available credit to cover the cost and any holds for incidentals.
Hotels typically keep a hold on your credit card for 5-10 business days after you check out. However, it can vary depending on the hotel and your bank.
Hotels often prefer credit cards because they can easily place holds for incidentals and charge for any additional expenses after you leave. Credit cards provide more security for the hotel compared to other payment methods.