Hotel Rate Types

When you’re booking a hotel for your next business trip, make sure you’re selecting a rate that makes sense for you.

Business travelers tend to need more flexibility, since things can come up, like a business meeting getting rescheduled. There are policies at play, like whether your company prefers bookings to be charged to company cards or personal cards (and reimbursed later). Then there’s also the tradeoff between cost savings and perks, like earning hotel loyalty points, that need to be considered. To say the least, selecting the right hotel is a nuanced decision.

So, which rate is right for your trip?

Rate Types

Reasons to Choose



More flexibility:

  • You can cancel your reservation
  • You have the potential for up to a full refund depending on the hotel's policies and requirements
  • You can usually earn loyalty points

These rates tend to be more expensive than non refundable rates.


  • These rates often cost less than refundable rates.

You give up the flexibility to change and cancel without penalty.


  • A good option for booking with a company card or virtual card.
  • If you do charge a personal card, you can submit for reimbursement right away.
  • Sometimes less expensive than post-pay.

Check whether the rate is refundable or nonrefundable before pre-paying.

You still need to put a credit card down at check in for incidentals and taxes.


  • The most traditional type of hotel room rate, and frequently available.

You have to charge the room to a card you physically have at check in (usually a personal card).

Booking with a virtual card? Book pre-pay. You'll avoid having to show a physical form of payment upon check-in.

The Types of Hotel Rates

To dive into more detail, there are two main decisions you need to make when selecting a hotel room, and various pros and cons to each rate type. The first question is whether a refundable or nonrefundable rate makes the most sense for you.

Second, consider whether your company’s policy and travel scenario fit better with a pre-pay or post-pay rate.

Refundable Rates

A good option if you need flexibility.

Refundable rates offer you more flexibility. If your plans change, you can change or cancel your hotel room reservation per the penalty period of the property. If you prepaid for the room, you have the potential for up to a full refund depending on the hotel's policies and requirements. If you only reserved the room and plan to pay at checkout, the reservation is simply cancelled. And refundable rates usually allow you to earn your loyalty points. However, with refundable rates you can usually expect to pay more for this flexibility.

Example of refundable rates on TravelBank

Non-refundable Rates

Often less expensive, but come with more restrictions.

Non-refundable rates are often lower than refundable hotel rates, for the same type rooms. When selecting a non-refundable rate, you may save money but give up the flexibility to change and cancel. Even when done ahead of time, you usually cannot cancel without penalty, and it’s rare for the hotel to offer a waiver or exception. When booking a non-refundable rate, be aware of the terms, as they can vary by hotel brand and property. After booking, you should be able to reference your booking confirmation for cancellation policies and restrictions. If you decide to book a non-refundable rate, make sure your dates are set and there is no chance you will need to cancel your reservation.

Example of non-refundable rates on TravelBank

Pre-pay Rates

Also less expensive, but can come with more restrictions.

Pre-pay rates are a good option when you are booking your hotel room with a company card. And even if you do charge a personal card, you can submit the expense for reimbursement right away. With pre-pay rates, you pay for the hotel room up front, and will still need to put a card down on the room for incidentals at check-in, but are only charged for incidentals and outstanding taxes and hotel or resort fees at checkout. You should check whether the pre-pay rate you are selecting is refundable or non-refundable before booking to make sure the cancellation terms work for you.

Example of pre-pay rates on TravelBank

Post-pay Rates

The most 'traditional' type of hotel reservation.

When you book a post-pay rate, a credit card is used to reserve a room, but not charged up front. You then put down a credit card at check-in that is used to pay for the full room bill plus incidentals, taxes, and any other fees at checkout. The credit card you use at check-in doesn't have to be the same card you used to reserve the room. Post-pay rates may be risky for business travelers because if you reserve the room with a company credit card that you don't physically have, you won't be able to use it on site because the hotel requires a physical card to swipe for the full room rate upon check in.

Example of post-pay rates on TravelBank

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