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Yesterday I wrote an article praising the convenience of debit cards. Today, I thought I’d shed some light on one of their major potential downsides…
Last week I was out of town on a work-related trip and staying at a Holiday Inn. When I reached first reach my destination, I was greeted at the check-in desk by a sign warning debit card users about their payment policy. It seems that if you use a debit card at this particular location, they will charge your account for the cost of the room plus a projection of your incidentals (phone use, restaurant charges, etc.) and an unspecified deposit. The sign went on to state that unused funds would be restored to your account within 7-10 days of checkout.
While the policy of placing a hold on a portion of your credit line or bank balance (in the case of credit cards or debit cards, respectively) is pretty standard stuff nowadays, the policy at this particular hotel seems a bit over the top. Yes, I understand exactly why they do this — to ensure that funds are available to cover all of your potential charges, but… Having a portion of your credit line (or even your checking account balance) temporarily put on hold is fundamentally different from having money actually withdrawn from your checking account and then refunded to you in 7-10 days if it goes unspent.
In my case, I was using a credit card so it didn’t matter. But I’m still curious…
Has anyone else run into a similar situation? If so, how long did it take to get your unspent funds back? And does anyone have a clear idea as to how quickly holds drop off your account if they choose that route instead of holding your money hostage?
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