Are Debit Cards Bad Travel Partners?

It may not be such a good idea to use your bank card as the primary form of payment during your vacation. While stores tend to accept debit cards tied to Visa or MasterCard, a number of hotels and car rental agencies don’t accept debit cards for payment and reservations-but the policies vary. Budget Rent-A-Car, for example, accepts debit cards at corporate locations but not all franchise locations.
Policies vary and can be confusing. BLACK ENTERPRISE called several car and hotel reservation 800 numbers. Some agents had never heard of debit cards; others said they accept only one type of card.
What’s more, some hotels may put a hold on your checking account equal to the price of the room plus a security deposit. The money could be tied up for three days following the transaction. Rental car companies may require an extra deposit.

“You don’t have the same protections as with credit cards. Using debit cards that don’t require a pin number makes it easy for someone to clear out your account,” warns Jean Ann Fox, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America, a coalition of state and national consumer advocacy groups in Washington, D.C. Ask the hotel or car rental agency to release the deposit on your account immediately upon payment. For more tips, check out the Federal Trade Commissions Web site at www.ftc.gov.

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