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Sending credit card numbers to Hotels

I have reserved a room in a great place in Positano, and the owner wants me to send my credit card by email. I called him, but he didn't want to take down my number, I think because he could not quite understand me or English. Rick Steves suggests sending the number in two emails, but that does not sound that safe to me, even without the CVC. Since we are both on wireless, couldn't anyone just see I have split it in two? Have you had good/bad experience doing this, and do you have any other suggestions? This is a small place without a secure website. Grazie!

Posted by
16782 posts

I understand that email is not a secure method of sending the info, but I suppose that someone also has to be looking in the right place. I have taken the risk several times, myself, with no obvious ill effects. Hopefully, your wireless connection is password protected, not a public source.

Posted by
2235 posts

I have several times sent my credit card information to small hotels or inns, divided into 2 or even 3 e-mail messages. Never a problem, at least so far. I don't know if dividing the numbers into more than a single message is really more safe or not, but I figure it can't be less safe.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks Laura and Larry! Good point about the password protected wireless accounts. I have asked him about his. He also suggested sending a pass-word protected word doc, which would really be a PDF. That sounds like the best to me - has anyone done that?

Posted by
7180 posts

And if you see fraudulent charges on your card all you have to do is contest them with your credit card company - not difficult at all. I've been sending credit card numbers in emails to hotels for years - and nothing bad has ever happened.

Posted by
11437 posts

Ive done this several times . I send number in two seperate emails

Posted by
741 posts

I just sent the number via email to a small hotel a few months ago and have not seen anything come back to haunt me. While caution is always good, there are so many ways for your info to be stolen these days that you're never totally protected. As someone else pointed out, as long as you watch your account and notify the card issuer of anything suspicious, you're not liable for anything but inconvenience.

Posted by
43 posts

If you have a Bank of America card and online banking you can generate a one time card number linked to your account. I use it for online transactions but it would work for this too. If someone intercepts your email they can use the number only for the amount you specify and they don't see your regular card number. You specify the maximum amount and the expiration date when you generate the number. The product is called "Shopsafe". Other banks may have something similar.

Posted by
20688 posts

We have had this discussion a hundred and one times. Sending the number over the internet is very secure. Far more secure than telephone or fax. It is what happens at either end that puts the number at risk so sending it in two part or ten parts will make little difference. The risk is when the number is sitting in the hotel computer, or the hotel reservation clerk has written the number on slip of paper when making your reservation. Cannot control that. In a way it is like the Target breach but on a fair simpler scale. So even if you call in the number, send it in to batch, fax, etc., someone is going to put it in the hotel computer and then you have to trust that some security is in place.

Over the years, I have sent dozen of numbers via the internet with no problems. You do it all the time your buy something on line - no difference. The local pickpocket is a far greater risk to your credit card number than the internet. Send it. Don't worry about it.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you everyone for your reassurance! Especially Frank T, whose reference to the hundred and one other times this was discussed led me to one other time I could find, in which someone had this suggestion:

You could also give half via e-mail and then the rest by using this service: http://onetimenote.com
It creates a code that is tied to a text message that can be retrieved exactly one time. After that, the code doesn't work and no one else can get the text note. By splitting it, you ensure that only half of what you need is ever accessible to one person and you can skip the phone call.

I tried and and found that once you open the onetime note, it only lasts for 5 seconds, so if you want the info, you have to quickly copy it. So I have sent my numbers that way, even though I was convinced by all of you that the email itself is safer than where it ends up. My host said he had an ethernet line on his main computer, and that the Wifi there was password protected. So I'm all reserved now, and have a new secret code trick.. Thank you!

Posted by
31037 posts

Carolyn,

I've sent credit card information to European hotels many times, either via E-mail or entered on the hotels booking system. So far I haven't had any problems. I have several credit cards so if one is compromised, it's not a big deal and I can still function with my backup cards during a trip.

Posted by
2774 posts

I would have typed what Larry said. I have gone to Europe for 14 of the last 15 years and have never had a problem when I was required to send CC info ahead of time.

Posted by
11613 posts

I also send the entire credit card info at one time, usually via a booking website, sometimes in an email to the property.

Your credit card company may have an alert function that notifies you of a transaction without the card being presented (Amex does), so you will know within minutes if someone has used your card number.

Posted by
103 posts

Not to be the wet blanket, but I had a credit card compromised soon after providing a credit card in two separate emails to reserve a room. Unfortunately, the compromise was close enough to our departure date, that the credit card company had to FedEx a replacement. It was one more stress prior to departure. Since then, I telephone with the numbers phonetically written out for me to provide the credit card information in the language of the recipient. It has been met with some chuckles at my pronunciation, but always success.

Posted by
23 posts

I read somewhere to not only send the cc info in several emails but to spell it out instead of printing numbers- same with the expiration date- which assumes that the programs used to read hacked emails are looking for numbers. Then they said to ask the recipient to make note of the info and then delete the email and delete it also from the trash can.Also, don't mention CC in the subject box - just say "Info requested", for example. Then delete the sent email and delete it from your trash can also. I did this recently with several B&B's and had no problem -----but, I don't really know for sure if this is foolproof either. Every little bit helps.
Janice

Posted by
598 posts

I had an issue with a hotel in Paris. However, they were dumb enough to use the card before I ever left the states. This made it easier for the credit card company to see it was used fraudulently since I made charges the day before and day after here in the states. The hotel actually told the cc company I was there. It was kind of funny because the cc company could see my paid airline tickets on their system and the dates I was leaving. I generally use Booking.com.

Posted by
2 posts

I don't have any horror stories to share (other than my card number getting swiped one time at a gas pump in the USA), but I would strongly recommend against emailing a credit card number. Not only should you be concerned about Wi-Fi at either end of the transfer, but also its transmission over the internet might not be encrypted.

I can't offer a good alternative, unfortunately (other than to pick another hotel where they are willing to take the number over the phone, or one that uses one of the many online booking systems).

Shopsafe (I think that's the name, mentioned y someone else already) came to mind - that would work if the hotel was taking advance payment, but I have a feeling it would not work if they were just using it as a guarantee. I could be wrong though.

Posted by
12 posts

I've frequently sent card info in two emails, and for added security I've mixed languages, i.e. quattro one seven null nine sei six zero. Proprietors have been glad to receive it this way.

Posted by
123 posts

I work in the information technology area of a financial company, and my experience makes me skeptical of sending anything confidential over email. I am also uncomfortable speaking on the phone with people whose first language is not English, and who may be several time zones away. My preference is to use the good old fashioned fax machine. Staples will do international faxes for a small fee. I follow up with an email to verify that the hotel has received the fax. Of course, anyone can pick up a printed fax - I have to take it on faith that the machine is in a location where only trusted personnel can pick up the printouts. Nothing is 100% secure.