Debit Card Tip

Debit Card: comes out of your bank. The money is taken out of your account & then sits in pending status before it posts to your account & is deducted from you daily available balance. When it is in pending status, the bank determines how long it sits in pending status (3-5 days normally), not the cruise line. Your payment may 'disappear' if the time frame lapses and then it may reappear the next day as a charge. Many people think they are being double charged when they are not & this ties up their funds.

Also, keep in mind that many cruise lines charge a fee for authorizations. If you use your debit card 10 times, that is 10 authorization requests. will see each individual charge plus at the end of the cruise you will see a charge for 10 x the authorization fee for all the charges you made during the cruise. Again, it may appear that you were double charged when actually you have only been charged once (because it takes 3-5 days to fall off from bank).

Example: Let's say you see a pending charge for $100 for the expense account you set up with your debit card 2-4 days prior to sailing. Now, you arrive and you place $100 on your expense account. You will view $200 taken from your daily balance. The $100 pending will probably not become available for use until after your cruise is completed if you are on a 3 day cruise because the bank has it sitting in pending for 3-5 days.

Credit Card: Credit authorizations fall off quicker (normally 24 hours and you do not normally see the authorization, but it did happen. Those charges just fall off quicker.

I use my debit card for expenses getting to and from the port and load a credit card onto my expense account so that I do not have to fret over pending charges affecting my available balance.

9 Answers

Are you referencing the use of Debit cards as they relate in the U.S.?

I have never used debit on cruise ships or in the U.S. as exchange rates, fees and international charges are way to much. I'm from Canada, and have never approached my bank on this.

I usually always use my RC credit card. I even used it on islands (with appropriate up-charges/exchanges), but mostly for the points for rewards (A free cruise is ALOT of spending, but a girl can dream).

I've experienced the debit card in states with the pending holds and fees, and it's just more safer with a CC. I just end up making a payment from my account anyways when I get back so in my mind, its like I basically used my debit card (although I know its not, don't bust my bubble lol)

I set up my ship account the old fashion way. I pay 200.00 cash. I have more cash to pay on on my account if I need to later. Keeps me in check.

Many U.S. people do not understand how a debit card issued from a bank works, so I posted for informational purposes only. Many people use cash or credit cards, so the information doesn't apply. Whatever method you use, know the ins/outs.

If you use cash then no worries & if you use credit card then no worries, but if you elect to apply the debit card on your expense account, there are some nuances.

Like I said, I use debit card for travel to/from and then use my credit card for my expense account. I save the money in a jar at home & pay the credit card bill when it posts at the end of cycle.

Everyone does what is best for them, but wanted those who use debit cards to know a bit more about how they work. Knowledge is power!

Your tip was very informative. Thanks

Thanks for the tip. I've heard a lot of horror stories in regards to using debit cards on ships.

No horror stories here with my debit card. Just got off our 8

cruise and have used it on everyone of them.

Deniseg, Then you have a good bank that does not treat test charges and reservation holds as pending charges for up to 10 banking days (the current cut out allowed by Federal law).

Many banks will then take these unconfirmed test/reserve swipes as holds for pending charges (even after a request w/ authorization for final payment comes through) and reserve the corresponding amount out of the available balance. This in turn for those not aware can place themselves in overdraft situations where the next purchase or auto-payment is denied or where it does go through but the account is hit w/ an overdraft charge.

The same process can cause problems with major credit card logo pre-paid gift and or travel cards (which the Federal government also treats as a debit card), thus requiring you to deposit to them 2-3 times the amount you want use as your budget. So these pre-loaded card are not an answer for those that wish to remain credit card free or are afraid of carrying large amounts of cash on their person while traveling.

If a debit card is in your eyes the only viable solution to covering your on board (or room key connected resort charges) the best thing to do is open a separate checking account not linked to your other current accounts that you use a card linked a checking account that is not the one directly link to your bill paying account. This will avoid the possibility of an important bill or loan being paid on time. Plus it will protect the majority of your other banking information should the "vacation" purpose only debit card get skimmed or the numbers used fraudulently all that is affect is that singular account. Remember per Federal Banking regulations no bank or financial institution needs to provide the same protections on a debit card, they need only equal the protections offered on a hand written personal check, so make sure before traveling with only a debit card as fund, or even as an emergency fund, that you have a nice long talk w/ a customer service representative from the card's issuing bank/company.

I believe more people get confused about their Cruise card versus debit and credit card. On Princess cruises, you pay for everything via your cruise card which is then charged to the form of credit you put up at the beginning of the cruise - whether debit card, credit card or cash OR any combination of the above. At any point, you can go to the front desk and put cash on your account or change credit cards or debit cards as you see fit. If you have prepaid your daily gratuity, and you don't charge anything to your cruise card, theoretically you would owe nothing at the end of the cruise. The cash concept is a good one if you want to pay as you go but just remember you need to put that cash on your cruise card account, not pay cash on the ship which is NOT accepted even for a nominal $2 item in the gift shop. It is important to know when you are being charged for something and when not - which is easy to tell if they ask for your cruise card. E.g You order an ice cream cone, it's free ... you order a milkshake and they ask for your cruise card because you will be charged $1.50. Things that are extra are clearly marked with signage at the venue so be sure to read the sign.

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