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Questions regarding HAL's credit card initial authorization policy


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We're a week away from leaving for our next cruise, this time it's on the Nieuw Amsterdam for the Panama Canal transit on the way back to do her Alaska runs. We just received our travel documents from our TA, and they include a sheet of info that has the following statement: "I further understand that the initial authorization will be in the amount equal to $60 per person multiplied by the number of days of the cruise, and that if there are charges in excess of the initial authorization amount, HAL may seek authorizations for those amounts."

 

This cruise is a 21 day cruise, so the initial authorization works out to $1260. My Questions are the following:

(1) There is a mandatory gratuity charge of $13.50 per day, is this included in that initial authorization?

(2) We are traveling with a lady who doesn't use credit cards but has a pay as you go debit card, how does HAL handle initial authorization for that type of card? She's been cruising with HAL for years and says she's never had an issue but her cruises have only been for a week each time, not 21 days.

 

This is our first time on HAL, previous cruise have been with Oceania Regatta and Insignia, Celebrity Mercury and NCL's Norwegian Wind. We've never experienced this type of policy on these lines, is this unique to HAL?

 

Thanks, and cheers,

 

Imagineer

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They are only going to check that your cc will cover that minimum of $60 per day. They will not actually charge you until the end. So as long as you still have at least $1260 credit available on your card there is no problem. (Mine always shows up as "pending" on my cc until the actual amount is charged.)

 

I would think the debit card would work the same way but I have read that the hold takes longer to be removed from a debit card than a credit card.

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We have used credit cards, debit cards, and cash on various cruises. On HAL, they will do an "authorization hold" on your credit or debit card within the first 24 hours after boarding. The rate is $60 per person, X the number of days of your cruise. That is for cruises of 25 days or less. 25 days or more, the hold is $30 P/P, according to HAL's FAQ's on the website. When I used a debit card, the "hold" dropped off the card after 3 days. For a credit card, it stayed on for 7 days, on a 25 day cruise. On one 21 day cruise, they took the hold, and I charged the signature beverage package for 2 people for the 21 days. That was about $2100 out of the $2500 hold. HAL tried to put a hold on my card for the standard hold of $2500 PLUS the $2100 for the SBP, but the hold request failed because I told my bank to limit any charges to $3000. The Front Office sent me a note a few days later. I went to the front desk, and they said that this was "just their automated computer system" and not to be concerned. They ended up being happy with the $2500 hold and we owed them about $1400 more at the cruise end.

 

The hold on your debit/credit card is just to make sure you have sufficient reserves for typical passenger spending for the duration of your cruise. That includes beverages, hotel service charge (tips), shore excursions, internet, etc. But considering that the hold drops off after 3 or 7 days, you could still go out after the hold drops off, and buy that $10,000 Rolex watch on a shore shopping spree and totally tap your card down to zero. So, I don't really see the actual purpose of the hold, other than to determine that you do have the reserves, on embarkation day. After that, and the hold drops off, all bets are off.

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I've sailed on HAL since 1988, I've never had a 'hold' on my credit card that impacted my ability to use my credit card. That being said, I us American Express for my on board credit card. I can't say anything about other credit cards.

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Make sure your friend is very aware of how a debit card "authorization" is done vs a credit card "authorization." The physical money to cover the $60/day is pulled from the debit card account as soon as it is requested. It is in a kind of "netherland" - it isn't available to you in your account, but the cruiseline/hotel/rental company doesn't have it, either. Example: you have $2000 in the account linked to your debit card. the cruise line requests that $1260 and it is put on the debit card. You now only have $740 available in your debit card account for the rest of your vacation. When you "check out", you find you only owe $500. A few days after your checkout (this depends on the establish period by your bank, NOT the cruiseline or hotel), you get back the $760 into your account to use again.

On the credit card - basically the card company is queried to see if you have enough available credit and "pends" it. But, it does not prohibit you from spending that same amount elsewhere on your card (unless you go over your limit). When you checkout, that authorization falls away and the actual charge is done.

 

Perhaps your friend has always has so much in the account tied to the debit card that she never thought of chunks of her money not being available. I've had too many people at my hotels only have a debit card and not understand that we are taking a huge chunk ( a few times ALL) of their money right then and there. A young couple on a honeymoon found out the hard way after trying to pay for their restaurant bill the first night, only to discover they had no money left. He had to call Dad to get more money put in his account...

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Make sure your friend is very aware of how a debit card "authorization" is done vs a credit card "authorization." The physical money to cover the $60/day is pulled from the debit card account as soon as it is requested. It is in a kind of "netherland" - it isn't available to you in your account, but the cruiseline/hotel/rental company doesn't have it, either. Example: you have $2000 in the account linked to your debit card. the cruise line requests that $1260 and it is put on the debit card. You now only have $740 available in your debit card account for the rest of your vacation. When you "check out", you find you only owe $500. A few days after your checkout (this depends on the establish period by your bank, NOT the cruiseline or hotel), you get back the $760 into your account to use again.

On the credit card - basically the card company is queried to see if you have enough available credit and "pends" it. But, it does not prohibit you from spending that same amount elsewhere on your card (unless you go over your limit). When you checkout, that authorization falls away and the actual charge is done.

Perhaps your friend has always has so much in the account tied to the debit card that she never thought of chunks of her money not being available. I've had too many people at my hotels only have a debit card and not understand that we are taking a huge chunk ( a few times ALL) of their money right then and there. A young couple on a honeymoon found out the hard way after trying to pay for their restaurant bill the first night, only to discover they had no money left. He had to call Dad to get more money put in his account...

 

 

I've always used a credit card, not a debit card, for a cruise so I didn't know it works that way. "Netherland" sounds sort of like escrow. Either way, the cruise line is making sure they're first in line to get your money.

 

In all of our travels, only one hotel ever told us about the hold. I'm sure plenty of hotels have done it, but not told us. The one that did was in Australia. Maybe their disclosure rules are different?

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We have sailed on HAL, Princess, Cunard, NCL and MSC and they all placed a hold on the credit cards that we registered for our ship board account.

 

Debit card holds can take much longer to get cleared than those for credit cards do.

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Do they still do this if you have bought shipboard credits before sailing?
Buying advance OBC is a deposit, just like plunking down cash on embarkation day. If you have enough OBC you probably wouldn't need to have the hold as well, but when we've purchased only a few hundred HAL applied the full standard hold.
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Do they still do this if you have bought shipboard credits before sailing?

 

Thanks

 

Buying advance OBC is a deposit, just like plunking down cash on embarkation day. If you have enough OBC you probably wouldn't need to have the hold as well, but when we've purchased only a few hundred HAL applied the full standard hold.

 

If you have OBC in an amount close to $60 per day you don't have to register a credit card. Just mark "Cash" when you fill out your online information. When you check in, they will mention that you don't have a credit card registered. Just let them know you have OBC and they will tell you to check with the front desk.

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I've always used a credit card, not a debit card, for a cruise so I didn't know it works that way. "Netherland" sounds sort of like escrow. Either way, the cruise line is making sure they're first in line to get your money.

 

In all of our travels, only one hotel ever told us about the hold. I'm sure plenty of hotels have done it, but not told us. The one that did was in Australia. Maybe their disclosure rules are different?

 

Since the authorization on a credit card does not affect how you use your card, most places don't tell you about this. Even rental car agencies do the authorization. Most people didn't even think about this on their credit cards until those pesky notifications were enabled on your smartphones. Then, they ask "why did you charge my card"? It shows up as a charge, not an authorization, a major flaw. Then, I get to explain that it really isn't a charge, but a request for authorization and will fall off and not affect them.

Speaking of Australia: I had a couple last month that traveled with a Global Cash Card issued by an Australian financial institution (Westpac). Their wholesaler hadn't paid yet, so a colleague did the authorization on their card. It took ALL but $200 of their travel funds for their 21-day trip!!! I spent the entire week they were here trying to get that money released from their institution. Emails, calls to Australia, it was a mess. They borrowed money from their travel group to do dinners, etc., while I was trying to get this done. The day before they were leaving for Aspen, the institution came through and the money was back on their card. And, we finally received the check for the group's stay from the wholesaler (this couple was the only one who did not have a credit card). A note: a release of funds from a debit card is dependent on the institution, not the merchant - it can be as short as 2 days, as long as 2 weeks (from my professional experience).

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I'm always puzzled by people who post that they've never had holds on their cards. I have holds on both my debit and credit card on a regular basis - gas stations, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, cruise lines, etc. If I check my cards online, the authorizations are shown in pending status. What am I missing here?

 

Roz

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Since the authorization on a credit card does not affect how you use your card, most places don't tell you about this. Even rental car agencies do the authorization. Most people didn't even think about this on their credit cards until those pesky notifications were enabled on your smartphones. Then, they ask "why did you charge my card"? It shows up as a charge, not an authorization, a major flaw. Then, I get to explain that it really isn't a charge, but a request for authorization and will fall off and not affect them.

Speaking of Australia: I had a couple last month that traveled with a Global Cash Card issued by an Australian financial institution (Westpac). Their wholesaler hadn't paid yet, so a colleague did the authorization on their card. It took ALL but $200 of their travel funds for their 21-day trip!!! I spent the entire week they were here trying to get that money released from their institution. Emails, calls to Australia, it was a mess. They borrowed money from their travel group to do dinners, etc., while I was trying to get this done. The day before they were leaving for Aspen, the institution came through and the money was back on their card. And, we finally received the check for the group's stay from the wholesaler (this couple was the only one who did not have a credit card). A note: a release of funds from a debit card is dependent on the institution, not the merchant - it can be as short as 2 days, as long as 2 weeks (from my professional experience).

 

The two stories you've told show that companies should be better about letting people know in advance what to expect. Many travelers have no idea that this is done. There are lots of perfectly innocent reasons for a credit card to be declined, but when it happens--no matter how nice the restaurant/shop/hotel is about it--it's embarrassing and awkward.

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I'm always puzzled by people who post that they've never had holds on their cards. I have holds on both my debit and credit card on a regular basis - gas stations, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, cruise lines, etc. If I check my cards online, the authorizations are shown in pending status. What am I missing here?

 

Roz

 

The only 'hold' I've ever seen on my credit card is at Kroger's gas pumps. As far as other 'hold's they are only for purchases that I;ve authorized for purchase and they haven't shipped yet. Once it is shipped it moves to a 'real' charge.

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I'm always puzzled by people who post that they've never had holds on their cards. I have holds on both my debit and credit card on a regular basis - gas stations, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, cruise lines, etc. If I check my cards online, the authorizations are shown in pending status. What am I missing here?

 

Roz

 

 

 

A lot of people apparently don't check their credit card statements on line, which is the only way to find out unless your smartphone alerts you. The worst hold is Costco gas station. $150 hold even if the gas purchase was only $25. That freaked me out the first time I saw it.

 

 

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I have used a debit card on a HAL ship, on a 21 day cruise. They put a hold on my debit card for $2520. Those funds were not removed from my account, or placed in "netherland". They were just not available for me to access for the duration of the hold. That hold lasted 3 days, certainly not for the duration of the cruise. Maybe my bank is different, but it was only 3 days. On another 21 day cruise, I purchased the beverage package for a cost of $2100 for 2 people. HAL didn't care, they still did a full $2520 hold on my credit card. The only way to use OBC instead of the hold is to have the OBC plus added cash to equal that $60 per person/per day amount. On a Windsurf cruise, I chose to use cash instead of a credit card, but also purchased their beverage package for cash. The front office person said that I didn't have to deposit the full cash amount for the onboard spending because they realized that beverages amount ot a considerable amount of spending. The cash deposit was supposed to be $1650, and they were happy with $800. Depends on the cruise line.

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I'm always puzzled by people who post that they've never had holds on their cards. I have holds on both my debit and credit card on a regular basis - gas stations, hotels, restaurants, rental cars, cruise lines, etc. If I check my cards online, the authorizations are shown in pending status. What am I missing here?

 

Roz

 

 

They have holds but they disappear before they are noticed. Everywhere you go holds are placed, the gas station, hotels, car rental agencies and cruise lines (ALL of them) when you embark.

 

Most people just aren't aware, particularly if it's on a credit card with plenty of room on it. The holds just drop off after a few days and most people have not a clue!

 

 

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I have used a debit card on a HAL ship, on a 21 day cruise. They put a hold on my debit card for $2520. Those funds were not removed from my account, or placed in "netherland". They were just not available for me to access for the duration of the hold. That hold lasted 3 days, certainly not for the duration of the cruise. Maybe my bank is different, but it was only 3 days. On another 21 day cruise, I purchased the beverage package for a cost of $2100 for 2 people. HAL didn't care, they still did a full $2520 hold on my credit card. The only way to use OBC instead of the hold is to have the OBC plus added cash to equal that $60 per person/per day amount. On a Windsurf cruise, I chose to use cash instead of a credit card, but also purchased their beverage package for cash. The front office person said that I didn't have to deposit the full cash amount for the onboard spending because they realized that beverages amount ot a considerable amount of spending. The cash deposit was supposed to be $1650, and they were happy with $800. Depends on the cruise line.

 

That "not available" is "netherland." Interesting that is was released after 3 days and before you paid up - you could go hog wild and run out your debit card account before you close the cruise account ;)

 

For the Aussie couple - my associate was supposedly trained by the last manager to "authorize" whatever amount automatically comes up. Had a huge argument with him about it - he never took responsibility for the error. I always tell people they will see a request for authorization for a specific amount.

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That "not available" is "netherland." Interesting that is was released after 3 days and before you paid up - you could go hog wild and run out your debit card account before you close the cruise account ;)

 

For the Aussie couple - my associate was supposedly trained by the last manager to "authorize" whatever amount automatically comes up. Had a huge argument with him about it - he never took responsibility for the error. I always tell people they will see a request for authorization for a specific amount.

 

Exactly what I was saying. I see no point in putting $2500 of a person's funds on hold for 3 days. After the hold drops off, you could go hog-wild spending on a shore excursion, buying that $10,000 Rolex you always wanted, and when you closed your account and left the ship, HAL would be hung out to dry trying to collect on a maxed-out card. The hold should last for the duration of the cruise, both on debit and credit cards. And holds on credit cards have the same effect as debit. If you have a card with a $5,000 limit and HAL puts a hold on that card for $2500, your attempt at charging a $3000 purchase will be declined. Of course, Amex cards do not have specific limits.

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If you have OBC in an amount close to $60 per day you don't have to register a credit card. Just mark "Cash" when you fill out your online information. When you check in, they will mention that you don't have a credit card registered. Just let them know you have OBC and they will tell you to check with the front desk.

 

Thank you

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