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How Hoteliers Should Handle International Credit Cards

September 4, 2012

credit card handling hotelAn international credit card is a plastic card issued by a finance establishment to a person to enable him/her to buy or settle any bill by signing an imprinted credit sales slip on the basis of “pay later” upon producing the sales slip to the credit card issuing company by the seller. The plastic credit card contains the name of the card holder, account number, expiry date (printer by a kind of emboss machine) while issuing to the particular person. However, according to the history of the credit cards it has been a very successful system and is very popular now-a-days.


It has been very convenient for both the buyer and the seller. The seller feels it much more convenient to use the credit card rather than cash. They (seller) try to encourage and motivate customers to use credit cards. People can buy a thing using his/her credit card without the risk of carrying cash money with them. Credit card is very easy to carry in money bag for a larger amount. This is why it is popularly called as “plastic money”. It offers the highest probability.

The credit card holder pays an annual fee to the credit card issuing company for membership and the credit issuing company is also getting a small percentage of commission from the selling on the transected amount. The credit card issuing company is getting revenue as membership fees from the card holder as well as the commission from the seller merchant. Upon receiving the charge voucher from seller merchant the total amount is recovered from the card holder and the seller merchant is being paid after deducting the commission amount.

There are many international credit card companies, out of them the most popular those are accepted in large hotels or properties or organizations are: AMEX (American Express), VISA, MASTER, JCB, DINERS CLUB so on. Credit card accepting formalities are almost same for all the credits cards. While accepting a credit card the front office personnel have to very careful especially about three things, such as:

  • Expiry date of the card
  • Signature of the credit card holder
  • Correct charge amount on the charge slip

Although the hotels pay commission on the charged amount but yet the hotel gets more volume of business by providing the credit card acceptance facility.

Normally in every hotel while in the guest is requested to let the front office personnel to know the mode of payment of bills. If it is a credit card, an imprinted of the credit card has to be taken with the use of an imprinter machine (a kind of machine by which credit card impression is taken in as sales slip). The credit card authority supplies this machine and also trains the personnel on the method of using and affix the imprinted charge slip with registration card.

Every credit card charge slip consists of 3 pages. After receiving all these new check-in card imprints, the front office personnel have to check all these card whether these are black listed in the cancellation bulletin or not. If these are found Ok, just make a small initial on the back of the slip so that while accepting the credit card by any cashier, he can understand that this card is not black listed and is valid. There are some credit card companies who give a floor limit of charge amount that may be U.S. $500-$1000.

If all the other aspects of credit card acceptance procedures are OK, you can charge any amount up to the floor limit. If the amount exceeds the floor limit, you have to get authorization for the charged amount from the respective local credit card authorization center over telephone saying him the details of the card and the required amount. If the credit card is found to be OK by the authorization center for the amount you asked for, they will give you an authorization/approval code number consisting of some alfa and numeric digit. The code number has to be written in the particular column of the charge slip. Thus, you can make the transaction successfully. If the authorization center says, “sorry the card is declined”, you must not accept the card. But you can try for any lower amount.  

However, there are some credit card companies who do not accept any amount without pre-authorization. That means before accepting any amount you have to get authorization/approval code from the local credit card authorization center. In order to maintain smooth guest handling it is better to have a pre-authorization. After checking the cancellation bulletin, take authorization code (approval code) for the required amount calculation the guest’s room charge as per length of stay and other probable expenses. But remember, if any card is declined for any amount, you must not accept the card and that should be intimated to card holder immediately, otherwise the guest may not have enough time to make alternative arrangement for payment.

It is to be mention here that the credit card company regularly issues cancellation bulletin of black listed cards and send it to their enlisted merchants. So, an update cancellation bulletin will be available at your office. Credit card companies also pay reward to the person who can trace out a black listed credit card from the cancellation bulletin.

While setting any bill by credit cards the front office accountant have to maintain the following formalities:

  • Find the credit card imprint attached with the registration card-if not, get a new imprint.
  • Check whether this card is acceptable in your hotel or not.
  • Check the expiry date, whether it has expired or not.
  • Now, politely ask the guest to produce the credit card.
  • Tally the card number with the imprinted charge slip to check whether this is the right card from the right person and also see whether the impression is clearly visible o not.
  • Check if there is any alteration on the card.
  • Write down the date on the right column of the charge slip.
  • Write the total charged amount in the charge slip on the particular column.
  • Write the total bill number on the particular column.
  • Now, ask the guest politely to sign the charge slip.
  • Compare the card holder’s signature with the signature of the credit card (there is card holder’s signature at the back of the card).
  • Tear off the card holder’s copy from the charge slip and give it to the guest with the settled bill and keep other two copies with the duplicate bill which is to be produced to the credit department subsequently.
  • Always remember that a defective or fake card holder tries to make a hurried/quick transaction with an escaping mentality.

We have also shared a complete SOP on How to Set Credit Card Payment in Hotel & Restaurant. Check it out.

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