When dealing with hotels, tours, etc that request you pay in advance or put down a downpayment using your credit card, is this generally acceptable? Is there a better way to pay, but safeguard your Card number? I am leery of sending this info across the seas or into the hyperspace mist. Any suggestions or precautions to take?
Thanks Brian - yes - forgot to specifically mentione online use. Not for over the counter use - but once youre at the hotel/car-rental - you can use any card you have on you for the actual purchase/payment.
IMO, The best way is using your credit card and not a debit card. If your leery (I can't blame you) use a credit card with a small line of credit (1000).
When I reserved my B&B's with a credit card, I sent two emails. One with part of my credit card number and the second email with the rest of the card number. I put my name on one email and other info on the second email. None of the B&B's complained about me doing it this way. I told them I felt more secure not having all my information in one place. I then made a copy of my email then deleted it although I "know" it is still out "there" somewhere on my hard drive.
I prefer sending my credit card information via fax. I request a confirmation email to ensure that it is received.
Many credi card companies today offer a special encryption tool/software for credi card purchases. Basically it allows you to generate a "temporary" CC number that is good for one purchase/payment of a specific amount. The number will be translated to your actual acct number by the bank, therefore protecting your real number. Its good for only one trasaction for the amount you specify. (Some also allow these "temp" numbers to be used multiple times for recurring monthly bill pay as well). While its usualy best for on-line transactions, I cant think of why it wouldnt work for your deposit/reservation hold.
Citibank and CapOne have these saftey tools. Im sure many others do as well. check it out - or (as others posted) use a card with lower limit for these kind of transactions. - and dont use the debit card feature for this. Once you pay in person - thats your choice - but CC is often best for protection. Save your debit/cash card for the ATM-CASH!
The "virtual" card numbers that Tom is talking about won't work for any transaction that requires you to provide the actual credit card. If you know your B&B or tour operator doesn't require you to produce the physical card, it's no problem, but for Car Rentals or Larger Hotels, it could be problematic.
I have recently made reservations for rooms at hotels in Germany that do not have safe sites. I make all the arrangements by email and then call them the credit card number. I was always fortunate enough to reach someone that spoke some English. I do speak a little Deutsch, including numbers.
For my reservations at smaller hotels that only communicated through unsecure email, I did exactly what Bonnie did - i put part of the CC # in one, and the rest with expiration date in another. I sent it immediately after and told them what I was doing, and they were all 100% fine about it. There's no way to be 100% safe, even phones can be intercepted, but if you take a minimal precaution like phoning/faxing or breaking up the emails, you're probably going to be ok, I'd imagine.
I used Carol's method: fax card # and ask for an e-mail confirmation; no probs w/ making reservations for Paris, London, and Italy for October 07. We've checked our cc statemant and have found no charges.