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I have tried booking at different hostels using HostelWorld and Booking.com and I could only be able to make a reservation using my credit card, but not pay for the whole stay. I haven't found that option. Apparently you can only pay when you check in.

Does it depend on the webpage or the Hostel?. Has anyone here been able to pay for the complete stay before travelling?

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    Call the hostel. I've paid in full over the phone via credit card and PayPal. – Roddy of the Frozen Peas Aug 9 '16 at 10:06
  • Yes it can depend on both the website and the hostel. – hippietrail Aug 10 '16 at 4:36
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Regarding Hostelworld their business model is not around getting payments for the hostels. They aren't a payment gateway. They are basically an hostel directory, with some sugar on it (they also collect user reviews and have a booking management system for the hostels). The value that you pay for reservation is actually earned by these websites as commission. In other words: the down-payment is not part of the hostel earnings at all. In fact, if you cancel, in most cases they keep the initial fee and the hostel looses the booking without any earning.

Booking.com is a bit different as far as I know, but It's not 100% guaranteed that you actually pay the hostel through it. Even though full payment is available and even though you input your credit card. This will probably vary from hostel to hostel, but your credit card is collect and it may actually happen that you need to pay when arriving to the hostel. I once asked why and they told me at the hostel that they had access to my information but they didn't have any agreements with payment gateways.

Another option would be to contact the hostel directly to know if they provide any means of secure payment in advance. In any case be very careful. Don't give numbers over telephone line and assure yourself that whatever payment method alternative they give you is actually secure.

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    That's all pretty much correct. Booking has a few different payment models, but most of their hostels are not set up to pay in advance on Booking. Also I would say it's up to the individual whether they want to give their credit card number over the phone. It's not risky unless the front desk person is a credit card thief, in which case they can almost just as easily steal credit card numbers from all the people who come in in person as well. – traveld Aug 8 '16 at 18:25
  • @traveld the problem with telephones and hostels is not so much the telephone but the way they may store the credit card. They probably don't do the transaction immediately and most likely they will have it an excel sheet, with several employees being able to access it, but also accessible to all kind of spyware/whatever. – nsn Aug 9 '16 at 20:18
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    When you guys say "Booking" you mean "Booking.com" right? – hippietrail Aug 10 '16 at 4:31
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    In my experience, all our guests who booked through HostelWorld and Booking.com have only paid a deposit and have to pay the balance to us when they arrive. Those who booked via Booking.com are much more likely to believe incorrectly that they have already paid in full. We routinely wait patiently while they check their booking details on their mobile phones. Of course Booking.com might have other payment options which are not exercised by the hostel I work for. – hippietrail Aug 10 '16 at 4:34
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    @hippietrail yes :) – nsn Aug 10 '16 at 20:34
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Background: I work at an independently-owned YHA hostel in Australia. YHA is a non-profit organization that owns many but not all YHA-branded hostels in Australia. YHA is the Australian branch of Hostelling International, HI. The hostel I work at is not non-profit, just a member of the network conforming to its standards.

Anyway, for my hostel organization there are three models of online booking systems as far as I can make out. I work at reception, not in the back office.

  1. Website takes a 10% or 12% payment from the customer. Customer must pay the balance directly to us when they arrive. Booking.com, HostelBookers, and HostelWorld, are examples of sites that use this system. You only pay this "deposit" in advance.

  2. Website takes full payment and either charges 10% or 12% above our rates, or gets 10% or 12% of the price we advertise, with us getting the remainder. Payment is settled between the website and hostel by invoice. Agoda is an example of a site that uses this system. You pay in full in advance.

  3. Website belongs to the hostel or organization the hostel is a part of. Full advertised price is charged to the customer and goes to the hostel or organization. YHA is an example using this system. I believe HI uses such a system internationally too, but I'm less familiar with it. You pay in full in advance.

Then of course we also take bookings not via any "system". This is done via e-mail, telephone, or in person. Our policy is that you just pay the full price of your first night as your deposit when booking. The Christmas/New Year period is special and must be paid in full when booking. Of course if you ask to pay in full when you book we do do that as well.

This is just an example from my experience meant to illustrate some of the possibilities.

So yes it is possible to pay in advance for hostel booking. But it may depend on various factors.

I would always recommend using the hostel's native booking website, if it has one. Many independent hostels not part of a bigger organization don't have one. Also, it's not unheard-of that a hostel will have a special price available only via one third party booking site. My hostel was doing so at the time I left for my trip.

If there's not a hostel/organization booking site, try Agoda. I am sure there must be some other online booking sites that use a similar model to Agoda.

Or email, or call by phone or Skype. If it's international, do check the timezone first. Be aware of the international date line. Have a Visa card or Mastercard ready.

Some independent hostels do not make it easy to find their phone number or email address because it's easier to rely on the booking sites doing that for them and many booking sites want you to book through them so don't post the phone and email details of their member hostels since you could circumvent their fee after using their service to find the accommodation.

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I use Agoda to pay by PayPal full in advance. Downside is they have less hostels available than HostelWorld.

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