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“My hotel took a £100 hold fee – then never returned it”

On April 20, I went on vacation to Washington in the United States where I stayed for four days.

I checked into the hotel I had booked and was asked to pay a standard £100 hold fee. Everything was very simple and I didn’t think about it.

I entered my PIN and the money was put on hold to be released on the day of check out – provided I did not incur any additional charges.

However, it has now been 16 days since I returned to the UK, and the money has still not been returned. On my banking app, it just shows up as a “pending” transaction.

I asked the hotel for it on the fourth day when I was told it would take 10 days to show up on my account as I have a UK bank account. They said he had been released.

I no longer have any chance of getting the money back. Should I be worried?

Fiona, London

When you check into a hotel, it’s not uncommon for them to ask for a hold fee



Mirror Money Response

When you check into a hotel, it’s not uncommon for them to ask for a hold fee. The official term for this is a permission fee.

This, in the same way as paying at gas pump vending machines, acts as a security buffer, and if the money is not spent, it must be released immediately.

These hotel requirements usually exist to protect them in the event of damage or charges for facilities such as the mini-bar.

The money should not be withdrawn, it should appear on your bank statement as “held” or “pending” and should be released as soon as the company confirms that everything is fine – usually on the day of departure, when it is due be released again.

Depending on the hotel, this hold may be charged for your entire stay or charged each night – some hotels will charge as little as £50, others could charge hundreds.

The length of time a hotel hold can remain on your account may vary from hotel to hotel.

Generally, a hold will be released within 24 hours of departure.

Payment networks such as Visa or Mastercard are actually the ones that require a hold due to how hotel payment processes work.

If a merchant processes a card before the final amount is known, your card issuer will likely charge an authorization fee to ensure you have enough money in your account to pay a reasonable fee.

Payment networks have also set limits on how long an issuer can release a hold.

For example, Visa cards can only be held for 30 days, while Amex cards only allow holds for seven days.

In your case, if the funds are blocked in “pending”, the first thing to check is that the hotel has released the money.

Even after a hotel has notified the card issuer that a hold is no longer required, the issuer may still take a few days for the original pending charge to clear.

You can contact your bank or card issuer to see if there is a blockage. Apps like Monzo allow you to automatically dispute it online, but only after 30 days. You can ask them to unblock it.

If the money still hasn’t been released after a month, file a complaint with your bank, card issuer, or building society.

If the hotel is at fault, you may be able to file a Section 75 claim to recover the money from the credit card provider. This applies to payments over £100.

If you paid with a debit card, you will need to complete a “chargeback” form. If this fails, send your case to the Financial Ombudsman.

One way to ensure your hold is released as soon as possible is to use the same credit card for the hold as for the room charge.

When using two separate payment methods, it may take longer for the pending hold fee to clear.

A spokeswoman for Abta told the Mirror: ‘Custodial fees are fees charged by a hotel, usually on a daily basis, which are intended to ensure that they have access to sufficient funds to cover any bills that you might have at the hotel.

“If you give them a credit card it will affect your credit limit and if you use a debit card the amount may well be taken directly from your account.

“However, once you have verified and settled all outstanding bills, the hotel must reverse any excess holding charges without undue delay.

“These charges are more common in the United States, but can sometimes be charged in other destinations. If it was booked as part of a package, ask the tour operator for help, otherwise talk to your company Map.


Money Troubles is intended to be informative and engaging. Although it may include advice and information, it does not constitute advice and should not be used as the basis for financial decisions.

All information in this article was correct as of the date of publication.

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