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Working Smarter with Hotel Credit Card Authorization Forms


Credit card authorization forms are part and parcel for most hoteliers nowadays. Because they’ve been a part of booking procedures for so long, many forms are still stuck in the past, as in paper-based.

Here’s the truth: leaving credit card authorizations to pen and paper is just bad for business. Paper forms are inefficient, inconvenient, and insecure for both you and your guests, which leaves you susceptible to fraud and chargebacks, a poor customer experience and perception, and ultimately revenue loss.

In this article, we share everything you need to know to work smarter with your forms:

  • What is a hotel credit card authorization form?
  • What is included in a hotel authorization form, and how can a form help you detect fraud?
  • What are the risks of paper forms?
  • What are the benefits of digitalization with Sertifi?

What is a hotel credit card authorization form?

A credit card authorization form is filled out and signed by a cardholder ahead of a guest’s stay. The cardholder indicates parameters for card usage, making the form a hotel’s permission slip for when and how they can charge the card on behalf of the guest. At the end of the stay, the guest and cardholder receive a final bill that line-items all the authorized charges the hotel made during the visit.

  • Authorization forms are helpful when the guest is different from the cardholder, for example, in the case of a business traveler’s trip being paid for by their employer. The authorization allows the guest to make payments without needing the card present.

  • Authorizations also make it more convenient to make incidental purchases, such as for parking or in-room entertainment, throughout a stay. The authorization allows guests to pay for these services and amenities without needing to swipe their card each time.

What is included in a hotel credit card authorization form, and how can a form help you detect fraud?

Guest Information

How guest information is completed can reveal several clues to whether the information is legitimate and provided by the true cardholder, reducing the risk of fraud and chargebacks.

Same-Day Arrival Selections

Fraudsters like to act quickly (up to 48 hours prior to check-in), so many hotels have adopted a policy to not accept same-day reservations. While that may not be an option, here are some best practices to follow if you can adopt it:   

  • Adopt an advance deposit policy and charge a minimum or full amount immediately. If the transaction’s being made with a stolen card, the true cardholder will get a notification of the charge, which will prompt them to contact you.  
  • Require a second form of payment. If the first card fails or results in a chargeback, the second option is available. This process can be implemented for all same-day reservations.

Business Name, Addresses, and Phone Numbers

  • Be on the lookout for vague, mismatched, or incorrect addresses, as well as any address with a P.O Box. Run a Google search of the provided business name to verify that it's real.
  • Google Streetview can show you if the provided address is really a home, empty lot, bus stop, etc.
  • If the provided cardholder and guest names are different, phone numbers should be different as well.
  • Don’t accept a credit card if the address provided for the card and the address provided for the authorization are drastically different
  • Take note if a business email wasn't used with a business selection.

Stay Related Information

The second section of a hotel credit card authorization form is where cardholders indicate the services and amenities the hotel's authorized to charge the card for. Getting signed agreement on this upfront can help hotels protect themselves from friendly fraud since there’s record of approval to make certain transactions.

Payment Information

In the tradition of paper forms, sensitive cardholder details are at risk. Forms can easily be misplaced or even stolen, and having best intentions like storing files in locked cabinets can waste time and even backfire. For example, before moving to Sertifi, a customer had files stolen despite them being stored in a locked cabinet.

Using a digital solution like Sertifi, hotel staff can keep information safe using encryption, password protection, specialized links, and other built-in protections. You can also take advantage of automatic ways of flagging a card’s validity by instantly verifying card-related information, e.g., by completing automatic AVS and 3DS checks.


This last section of a hotel credit card authorization form is where the cardholder will sign the document and check a box authorizing the use of their payment card. Without a signature, the form cannot be activated or work as a legal document.

What are the risks of sticking with paper forms?


Businesses that accept credit or debit cards as a form of payment must comply with requirements set by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council, which include but are not limited to:

  • Building and maintaining a secure network and systems.
  • Protecting cardholder data.
  • Implementing strong access control measures.
  • Maintaining an information security policy.

Noncompliance comes with numerous risks, including fines, higher transaction fees, harm to your brand, and a loss of industry relationships.

Staff Inefficiency

Consider the time your staff is losing to managing paper forms. Printing, scanning, and faxing aside, how much time are you spending following up with guests to get you what you need? How much time are you spending dealing with declined cards or fighting chargebacks?

Hoteliers are needlessly losing money to inefficient processes, and your time is too valuable to be spent on tasks technology can manage for you. Plus, you also don’t want to be left in the wake of competitors taking better advantage of digital solutions.

Guest Inconvenience

Put yourself in your guest’s shoes: how much do you do online? How much do you expect to be readily available to you online? The simple idea of having to print and scan a piece of paper could trigger a “I’ll get to that later” thought from your guest, who then easily goes about their busy day and week and forgets to respond until they’re nudged by you. And then suddenly they feel bad or annoyed. Why make a process more complicated for them when it can be completed online from any device in minutes?

The Benefits of Digitalization with Sertifi

Sertifi makes it easy to digitize your hotel credit card authorization forms so you can put everyone's time and money to better use.

  • Remove friction and get card authorization forms back in minutes. Let guests respond anytime, anywhere, from any device. They'll always know what's coming from you with a custom-branded property portal and emails.

  • Easily link to your hotel CC auth forms directly from your website, email signature, or other location. With forms readily available to purchase amenities like spa services or gift cards, your guests can enjoy greater convenience, and you can enjoy higher revenue with no extra effort.

  • Detect fraud early and save hundreds to thousands in chargebacks each year.Advanced fraud tools come free with a subscription to our authorization solution to automatically verify cards for you.

  • Stay compliant and keep your customers' information secure. Our platform is PCI compliant, meets stringent security requirements, and integrates with other solutions so you can easily and securely exchange information without leaving Sertifi.
  • Instantly and securely exchange payment details. Leading travel management and payment partners integrate with Sertifi, giving travel professionals an easy, PCI compliant way to send you your guest’s payment and booking information – at no cost to you. Sign up for a free e-confirmations portal.


Ready to start putting your time and revenue to better use?

We’re ready to help protect your business and ensure your staff is set up for success. Our digital authorization solution helps 15,500+ hotels get authorization forms back in minutes and save thousands a year in chargebacks.

About the author

Peter Laspas

Peter Laspas is the manager of customer success at Sertifi. As a service-oriented leader, he's passionate about building relationships and helping users enjoy a more efficient, seamless agreement experience.