I booked 2 rooms in a hotel that allowed cancellation free of charge for dates in February, and then proceeded to cancel these rooms because I noticed they were offering the same rooms cheaper on another part of the booking page.

Unfortunately this second booking was a non-refundable booking. The rooms were not clearly advertised as being non-refundable and I only found this out when I got an email today saying my credit card wasn't valid.

I usually have no trouble with this (I gave them my debit card details and not my credit card). They say that if I don't update the card details to a credit card instead of a debit card within 24 hours, my booking will be cancelled and that I may be charged. The card that I have has zero funds in the account.

I am just wondering, can I be charged when there isn't any money in the account? All third-party transactions are blocked by my bank.

  • 1
    How can they charge you anything on a card they clearly can't access?
    – JS Lavertu
    Jul 26, 2016 at 21:10
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about how a particular bank account works, not about travel. (The answer would surely be the same, whether the asker was booking a hotel room or a new TV.) Jul 26, 2016 at 21:13
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    There are two questions here, whether the OP owes the money and whether the hotel can collect it from the debit card. They may have different answers. Jul 26, 2016 at 23:59
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    The same rooms were cheaper because they were non-refundable! Obviously they can't deduct money that isn't there but they can register the debt and sell it to debt collectors. It may cause you problems in the future if you allow this to happen. Either convert the card or cancel the booking and make arrangements to pay the fee. Jul 27, 2016 at 9:39

2 Answers 2


Most booking websites display terms, such as being non-refundable. They may not be prominently displayed, but usually enough to covers laws. The fact that you were distracted by the discount you got and didn't read the terms carefully is not usually grounds for a waiver.

Can they come after you for the cancellation fee? Yes they can, because you entered into a contract with them for the booking. Will they come after you? Not likely as the legal fees outweigh the fee due. But that said, they could try to bill your debit card at a future date in hopes that it becomes funded (something they could legally do up to the date you booked for).

Or if you want the rooms, you could simply give them credit card details and be done with it.


Honestly, when we have a reservation that comes in and we try to authorize the card and it declines, we try to reach out to the guest. If we are unsuccessful in our attempt to speak with the guest, then we simply cancel the reservation. If it is a busy weekend and we are overbooked, we immediately will cancel. If it's not an overbooking situation, night audit would try to run it and if it fails they have to cancel the reservation in order to close out the day. I have never continually tried charging someone's card until I got a payment unless it was a stay that already happened, or is a situation involving damage to the room.

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