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Traveling and reserving hotel rooms without a credit card


Okay, so you made the decision to file for bankruptcy some time ago and things are moving along smoothly. In fact, you're sleeping better, getting along with your spouse and you wake up confident that the world is indeed, still spinning on its axis.

It's a good feeling, to be back in control, to be out from under the thumb of creditors who don't understand the human side of financial management. And now, for the first time since emerging from bankruptcy, it's time to go away for the weekend. However, you're still re-building your credit history and have been getting by without credit cards. But wait, don't hotels require VISA or Mastercard? How can you book something ahead of time?

Actually, traveling without credit is pretty easy. And even when you have credit, it can be the smarter thing to do. All it takes is some planning. You've come this far with your economic standing, so there is no sense in letting it deny you a couple of days away from home.

Most of the popular hotel chains with allow you to reserve and pay without using a credit card. The key is simply to prepay your stay or just the first night's deposit, which is typically the most important component of reserving a room. Remember that Travelers Cheques are an option as well. Your local bank or AAA office can issue them to you. Understandably, they can be a tedious way to pay for things and sometimes carry restrictions. Cash is always best when possible.

All hotel chains have a centralized 1-800 number you can call to inquire about their "creditless" policy. But here is a policy rundown on some of the more popular chains:

  • Best Western (1-800/528.1238): You can visit your local Best Western hotel to prepay for one night's stay to reserve a room at any of their locations nationwide. You must do it 14 days ahead of your intended arrival. Once there, you will need to pay taxes on that night and the remaining stay can be paid by personal check or cash.
  • Choice Hotels, Quality Inn, Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn, Roadway Inn, Econolodge, Friendship Inn (Choice Hotels International) (1-800/221.2222): Similar to Best Western, you can pay a deposit at a local entity for any location and be given a voucher to present upon arrival. With a money order, you can pay your room deposit the day before you arrive, if that's feasible for you. Still, call the individual location to ask about their policy, as that is set at each branch.
  • Hilton (1-800/445.8667): Hilton allows a personal check to be used for the first night's deposit if received within seven days after you make your reservation. Some individual locations do allow you to pay for your entire stay ahead of time. Be sure to call. Hampton Inn is also part of the Hilton chain.
  • Motel 6 (1-800/466.8356): This hotel makes it easy for someone to travel without credit, which might explain why its one of the oldest "highway hotel" chains. The company allows you to prepay with cash at the nearest location regardless of where you are ultimately staying. Unlike theaforementioned hotels, you can send a personal check to the actual location 14 days before you arrive. The remainder of your stay will need to be paid with cash or money order.

Essentially, the key to traveling without credit is to use good judgment about planning. While sometimes the best trips are of the simultaneous sort, you can nevertheless enjoy a great weekend away to visit family or reward yourself for getting your financial life back on track. When traveling with cash, remember to be extra careful about where you keep it and always divide it into different "pockets" so all is not lost should a purse or wallet be left somewhere. And most importantly, have fun. You've earned it.

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