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Christine's Vacation Rental Insights

2 Posts tagged with the credit_card tag

Hi Everyone!iStock_000015355968XSmall.jpg


Hope you are doing well.  So I have had a “first” happen to me recently so let me set the scene and explain what exactly happened. 


When I take bookings for my vacation rental properties, I firmly require money down upon booking in order to solidify the reservation.  But after the down payment I am extremely flexible with my rental guests regarding the remaining balance as long as they are paid in full thirty days prior to their arrival date.  So this means, my guests pay $200, $300, or $500 down (depending on the property) and then we schedule a payment plan for the balance (but we do pre-determine it and stick to it).  For the subsequent payments, I automatically charge the guest’s credit card on the agreed upon date then immediately email them an updated invoice reflecting the payment.  The process of emailing them is just as much for my records as it is for theirs.  This way I have a clear “paper trail” if you will of all charges to their account.  It might sound like a lot of work but the process works for me and my guests appreciate the flexibility with the payment plan.   


Anyhow, for one particular renter, he paid the down payment upon booking.  For the remaining balance he wanted it broken up into two more payments.  I charged the down payment and first payment according to the schedule with no problems.  Yesterday I charged the final payment and per protocol, I sent him the updated invoice.  This morning I got an email from the guest and he said that there was a problem.  The fraud department of his credit card bank called him yesterday morning (shortly after I charged his payment) to verify the charges.  It caught him off guard and he never put 2+2 together that the charge was for the rental.  Only after he checked his email and saw the invoice did he realize that the charge was for the rental.


So I contacted my merchant account provider and found out that if he does NOT call his bank and reverse the denial immediately then it will indeed get processed as a chargeback and I get charged a fee of $25. Furthermore, it can hurt my credit standing with my merchant account provider.


So I guess I will need to add yet another thing to my rental agreements reminding the guests that their credit card company might call to verify the charges.  If they mistakenly deny the charged they can get assessed a fee of $50. 


Happy Renting!




Sorry, You Card Has Been Declined
Hi everyone.

Hope you’re all doing well. For those of you who are procrastinators like me, don’t forget to mail your taxes on Thursday!

On Sundays I always do my vacation rental business chores. Generally, I tweak my headlines, make sure all of my calendars are up-to-date, and double-check my rates on HomeAway (because once the date has passed, the rates disappear). Then I go through my current renters file. I notify my housekeepers of all the dates they have to clean, go through my billing statements to see which renters still need to fax their rental agreements back, and which renters are due to pay. (Since I take credit cards, most of the work falls on me to push the payments through.)

So, this Sunday when I went to go and charge credit cards, I was very annoyed that every card I went to charge was declined! It’s always an uncomfortable situation to have to call the guest and tell them their cards were declined. But before I contacted them, I reflected on something that happened to me recently which embarrassed me. When I rented the home for the Olympics, the first payment went through fine but the second payment got declined. And it was not due to lack of funds in my account. Nope, I had to call the bank and approve the card over the phone.

So when I contacted my guests, I handled the situation very gingerly and was very careful to not alarm them. I explained the process and, quickly enough, they were able to call the bank and approve the charges.

So bottom line: before you judge your renters’ credit worthiness when a credit card issues a decline response, consider the problem might be out of their hands. Most often it’s a security issue with their bank.

Happy renting!