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Can You Pay for Hotel Rooms in Cash? Debit Card? Paypal? Venmo? Other Options?

Guest handing a card as payment to the front desk.

As I begin my journey of road tripping for the next two years at a minimum, I am learning a lot about paying for hotels. We are actually going to stay in a hotel room for the majority of our travels, there and in our vehicle. I have discovered, much to my chagrin, that cabins and tent spaces at campgrounds in the Pacific Northwest are full already.

Booked in April for the summer, which means we are going to have to do some hotel room stays. I know, AirBnB or VRBO you say, but no! We are hotel enthusiasts, plus they have kitchens now just like the rent share homes.

I prefer the security and seclusion of a hotel with 100 rooms rather than a single dwelling–and I have experience with AirBnbs. Here are some of the ways I have found to be useful when paying for hotel rooms.

Using Cash to Pay for Hotel Rooms

A person with his luggage opening a hotel room.

If I were to walk into a hotel and offer to pay cash as in dollar bills and change like quarters and nickels, would they take my money? In this day of digital money, hard cash is less common. Also, you clearly cannot use cash if you want to reserve a room online.

This method requires you to be onsite at a hotel. The best option is to call ahead and ask because most hotels will take cash–just not all of them.

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So call ahead or email and ask before you arrive to save some face and time. Also, even though the majority of hotel chains like Country Inns & Suites and Extended Stay America will take cash for payments, they often require a credit card for incidentals.

If you do not have a debit or credit card, you may not be able to rent a room even if they do accept cash, only for a protective measure. Some hotel chains like Hyatt state this information online. According to Hyatt, “Please note that this hotel only accepts credit cards, debit cards and, where applicable, other contactless forms of payment. It is a cash-free environment.”

Using a Debit Card to Pay for Hotel Rooms

A person paying using a debit card at the front desk.

If you are using a debit card to pay for hotel rooms, you are working with the best form of payment–digital. You can either contact a hotel directly by calling them and giving them your debit card number over the phone, or by using their online booking form with your debit card number in hand.

Otherwise, third party hotel room booking sites like Kayak.com and Hotels.com will ask you to use a debit card or credit card, or even PayPal. This is quite beneficial for most travelers who use debit cards to pay for fuel and other purchases directly using their checking account.

Using PayPal to Pay for Hotel Rooms

A luxurious hotel room with 1 bed and a TV.

As a freelancer, I get paid digitally using PayPal for the majority of my writing jobs. This means I can use PayPal to cover our hotel room expenses, if PayPal works. This is a great deal because then I do not have to transfer money to my debit card to pay for a hotel.

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The only place I have been able to use PayPal for paying for hotel rooms is Hotels.com. This website is a great asset as a road tripper on a budget. I get one room free after paying for 10 rooms, often at a discount. The free room is the average cost of the 10 rooms I pay for, so it’s typically $150.

Since we are traveling all the time now, my son and I are accumulating rooms rather quickly. The idea is I can use Hotels.com to get at least two free nights a month, which is $300 in savings. That’s a huge benefit for anyone traveling a lot and using hotels.

There again, for me, I also save on the debit card fees from PayPal to my checking account. These are up to $15 per transfer and I was spending $30 a month in fees.

This way, I can use Hotels.com to pay for hotel rooms using PayPal directly. As a result, I do not have to transfer the money and use the debit card, which also frees me up from having to track down funds. My PayPal account is easier to access, making it the right choice for me. The trick to this is finding hotels that will take PayPal on Hotels.com–not all do.

I haven’t figured out the secret to that sauce yet; it seems hotels must be willing to accept a payment now or at the place of your stay before PayPal is available. Either way, I have been able to log in to my PayPal account using Hotels.com twice now to successfully pay for hotel rooms. Hotels.com takes you directly to PayPal when you are in the payment part of checking out a room.

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Using Venmo to Pay for Hotel Rooms

A woman paying using her phone through online banking.

Have you ever used Venmo before? It’s an app that lets people send you money. I received payment for web content work before using Venmo, from a mental health therapist. However, I have never had enough money in my Venmo account to pay for a hotel room.

Yet, I don’t think you can use your Venmo to pay for a hotel anyway. After checking out Hyatt and Hotels.com, I doubt Venmo is accepted online for hotel payments. At Hotels.com, for example, the only forms of payment are:

  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Google Pay
  • PayPal
  • eGift card for Hotels.com

You could use Venmo to buy an eGift card from Hotels.com and then use that gift card to pay for a hotel room using Hotels.com. However, you might be able to use Venmo in person using your app as a form of payment at hotels. Start by contacting the hotel individually to see if they take Venmo online or in person.

Since Venmo is a part of PayPal and is attached to your debit card, you may be able to use it at more modern and upscale hotels in big cities like techy Seattle.

How I Prefer to Pay for Hotels

A woman holding her phone and credit card.

When it comes to hotels, there are so many ways to pay these days that it is not even funny. Along with booking directly with a hotel, you can use a third party provider like Hotels.com to book a hotel.

I personally like using the third party site for hotel bookings because it keeps track of all my reservations–canceled, done, and upcoming–in one place. This is a great record for my personal sanity as a road tripper, but it’s also easy to rebook hotels that I have been to in the past.

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The other reason I really like Hotels.com is because I can use PayPal, debit card, and Google Pay to do my booking. They also let me reserve a hotel room and then cancel it–even though I have either paid zero money or a full payment–depending on the hotel I am booking in.

There are so many different hotel chains, and even home owners, that are using this site, including condo time share owners, that it makes for plenty of options. Also, there is a credited free room every time I book 10 nights. After two weeks, that’s a free night’s stay that is worth every penny.