I've booked a hotel for a stay 8 months from now on a no-prepayment basis. As per usual, they pre-authorized my card; which makes me ask out of curiosity:

Is there a time-limit to how much a vendor/merchant can have an amount pre-authorized before the bank drops it? Or they can have an amount pre-authorized for a virtually indefinite period of time? Also does that differ between debit and credit cards?

  • Generally, a pre-auth only shows up for 7-30 days if not charged, depending on your bank. I have no idea how hotels handle this scenario, though. – Bobson May 7 '18 at 12:36

From Cybersource.com:

Most authorizations expire within five to seven days, but the bank or company that issued the card decides how long an authorization lasts.

Other sources say that an authorization can still be settled after it has "expired" but the merchant will pay higher fees. There is also no guarantee that the funds will be available since the authorization has expired.

In the case of a hotel, they most likely run an authorization on your card again when you arrive to make sure you will still be able to pay for the room before they hand over the keys.

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