New to and would love advice

Hello all, We are hosting an apartment in Oakland. We are listed on Air bnb, Booking and homeaway. I am not a fan of Bookng so far but we have almost this whole month booked thru them
This banner sits right above our calendar:
“Because we’re dedicated to being a safe platform for both customers and partners, we’ve temporarily disabled non-refundable and prepayment policies. As soon as we can give you access to them, we’ll let you know.”

My question is when someone books the apartment thru do you charge the cards immediately? (we use square) or wait until they arrive? I learned the hard way to print the credit card information right away but I have not been charging their cards, should I?
I am going back and forth with a guy right now who just emailed wondering if the apartment is confirmed for them and I told them that It wont be confirmed until I charge the card. I also told him that I cant give him the pin to the door until the card is charged . He asked why cant we charge it when he arrives. I told him that if there is any issue with his card, I would not be able to give him access. His response is that “if there is any issue, I can just call and they will guarantee the card”. He is obviously a little confused but nice about it.

How do you guys deal with charging? as soon as it is booked? upon arrival? I have strict cancellation policy.

I have read quite a bit on this forum about how everyone seems to be as frustrated as me with
Any advice would be super helpful

I just started with a few months ago and I use the Square App as well. I’ve had lots of reservations where the credit card is not valid, so the key to is to verify the credit card as soon as possible, and to write down all the credit card details as soon as a reservation is booked so you always have the information.

Here is what I do. I apologize if this is a bit long, and I’ll use my own situation as an example. gives guests a certain period of time (a “cooling off period”) after making their booking to cancel without penalty or fees. You can change this, mine is set a 1 hour.

My cancellation policy states that guests can cancel without penalty if they cancel more that 30 days before check in. If they cancel less than 30 days before check in, they are charged 50% of the total cost of the stay.

My cancellation policy also states that “No Shows” are charged the full cost of the reservation. You can also modify the cancellation policy to suit your needs.

So, if a guest books more than 30 days in advance, after the initial “cooling off” hour has passed, I charge their credit card $1 to see if it’s valid. You can do this using the Square app, as it allows you to key in the information rather than swipe the card. The fee Square charges is a bit higher if you key it in rather than swipe, but you can do it. If the transaction is approved, then I deduct the $1 from the guest’s balance, and consider the reservation to be confirmed. If the card is declined, I mark the card as invalid. This gives the guest the opportunity to update the card information. After a certain period of time, if they have not done so, you can cancel the reservation without penalty. Once the 30 day cancellation window has passed, I charge 50% off the total cost. Again, if the card is declined, I mark it as invalid and move to cancel the reservation.

If a guest books less than 30 days in advance, after the initial hour has passed, I charge their credit card 50% of the total reservation cost, again, by keying their credit card information into Square. This is the non-refundable cancellation fee. Again, if the transaction is declined, I mark the card as invalid, and cancel the reservation if the card is not updated.

When the guest checks in, they pay the balance owing for the full cost of their reservation. They can either pay in cash, or by credit card which I then swipe through Square. If the guest is a no show, I attempt to charge the remaining balance. Even if it doesn’t go through, by this point I’ve collected 50% of the total cost of the reservation.

Another tip: Given the number of invalid cards and no shows that I get through, do not block off your calendar in your other platforms until you have verified a valid credit card. I went through about 12 reservations before I had someone with a valid card actually turn up. Changing my cancellation policy to the 50% and the 30 days has helped a lot in filtering out the crap.

It’s also important to message the guest and remind them that this is your policy, that you have charged their card XX amount, or that the card has been declined.


VERY helpful, thank you. So now I have someone arriving in 2 days from Denmark and I just ran the card and it has been declined. I let them know but have not heard back. How do I charge them if they are a no-show & I already now that the card has been declined? I know its a rookie move on my part. How would you deal with that?



You can’t charge them anything if the card is invalid, which is why you need to check the card right away. Go to the reservation information on and click the button saying “Mark credit card as invalid”. The guest now has a certain amount of time (about 24 hours, I’d need to check) to update the credit card information. If they don’t, you can then cancel the reservation without penalty.

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you rock! Thanks for the advice Danielle!

24 hours after you can call and they will cancel the booking.If it’s the same day booking you can do at 18.
36 hours after I think you can do yourself (not sure if it was 30 hours)

I always take a pre autorization on the clients cards’

if the card is the reject you can ask the client to pay asap with paypal for example or bank transfer with a proof of transfer or you say that the booking will be canceled if not done

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12 inquires before someone with a valid card actually turned up? With a 12 to 1 scam to valid ratio I would forego listing with This, along with their crazy ‘re-homing’ policy is a nightmare scenario.

update: They reached out and updated the card, they are arriving tomorrow. Lesson learned though. Thanks for your help. “no prepayment” policy for new accounts really makes things difficult so I have just been ignoring it. At 30 days out, I (now) charge the 50%

We have been doing for a few months and have gotten a lot of business through them. They just have so many people on their platform, so when AirBnB slowed down it became a godsend because after all we want to rent our space. Here are some tips we have learned:

  • Require the credit card CVC code and address to be entered. If they provide a valid CVC (or one at all) itʻs always a legitimate person. You have to email and ask them specifically to activate that feature on your account.

  • Although it is funny about the no prepayment and cancel anytime, you can set your own preferences. We started with 70% cancellation penalty 42 days before the reservation, but allowing a 24 hour grace period for them to change their minds. However weʻve noticed that there is so much traffic on Booking that this is more conservative than needed. Also many customers are thinking hotel, donʻt read carefully, and donʻt check their email within the 24 hour period, so weʻd get folks who wanted to cancel and would call us and ask to waive the penalty. Weʻd tell them we would if we got another reservation in their place. It always worked out because thereʻs so much traffic on Booking but it was a big headache.

  • So we changed it to 100% cancellation penalty 14 days before (essentially non-refundable 2 weeks before). Our policies are stricter on AirBnB and VRBO, but itʻs fine because Booking has so much traffic that we are able to get a last-minute replacement. Almost any opening we have gets filled on the last day.

  • We now send out a confirmation email when they book thanking them for their reservation, confirming their dates, and explaining that itʻs a lovely apartment that theyʻve reserved and what theyʻre getting, but explaining that weʻre not a hotel, and weʻre not in Waikiki. We also explain that itʻs non-refundable 14 days out so please make any changes right away, and that theyʻll be charged about 1 week before arrival. A little less than half have cancelled after receiving this email, but the idea is that we want happy customers and no drama. If they didnʻt understand what they were reserving, we really donʻt want them to arrive and be shocked.

  • We used to charge the credit cards. At $0.30 + 2.9% per transaction itʻs the cheapest. They also have a free credit-card pre approval, but now that we require the CVC code and charge them a week out, itʻs not really necessary. Many customers are international, so it sometimes gets declined because of fraud protection, but we just email the client and they clear it up and itʻs fine. If we take care of it a week out thereʻs plenty of time for that. The CVC code is key because it usually means they are real people who really want to stay. When the card is declined we “Mark the card as invalid” on the website, which generates an automatic email from Booking and they have 24 hours to enter in a new card. We also send them a personal message requesting a new card to keep the reservation, and that always gets a response. If they donʻt take care of it, then you can email Booking and theyʻll cancel the reservation and clear your calendar.

  • Weʻre still not sure about the optimal Cancellation policies. One of the big features that Booking advertises on their TV commercials is “cancel anytime”! Itʻs obviously very scary if you only have the one unit, but there is so much customer traffic. There is a balance between scaring off everyone and having empty dates. Weʻll stick with the 2 weeks non-refundable for a while and see how that goes.

  • It is a bit of a pain that doesnʻt sync with AirBnB and VRBO. We manually block off our AirBnB calendar every time we get a booking, and our VRBO is synched with that so that has worked so far. The volume of traffic is Booking > AirBnB > VRBO, so that works fine. I did have a recent incident where I forgot and had a double booking but I just emailed the person right away and apologized, said it was not available and could they please cancel and find another accommodation? They did and all was good. I think the bigger problem is if you donʻt realize and two guests show up. Then you have to find them another place to stay.

  • I donʻt think sends them anything like “house rules” when they book, so weʻll send them a list of our rules on the confirmation email.



Manoahost has really great tips, too. isn’t a bad platform, but it does take some trial and error, and you may have to learn from a few mistakes before you have your account set to what works best for you. I think that if you persist with it, it will be worth your while.

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I have now most of my clients from it. Manoahost has good advice.
I have a channel manager to automate between the platforms.

If someone wants to start with, my referral code is:

One thing that I seen multiple people cooment on, in this and other threads, is the chance for overbooking. We have imported (and exported) the calendars of airbnb, vrbo & Booking to each other and not had any problem with one site populating the other calendars. Is this not what everybody doing? Is it just luck on my part with not overbooking?

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We have also our synch between the platforms with a channel manager. I don’t think you can update manually if you want to avoid double booking just started providing a way to export and import calendars. Hooray!

You can ask to add a cleaning fee to your property just like airbnb. Most of my who stay, think we are a mini hotel so instead of moaning about all the extra daily cleaning, I charge guests now.

These tips are really great and I have incorporated some of them when setting up my booking . com account over the weekend. My question is: if booking . com find out we are actually taking “prepayments” will they penalise or kick us off the website?
Thanks everyone :slight_smile:

Manoa… I’m admiring how you got started with booking.

Are there any issues such as chargebacks?
Is the deposit under your control, and how do you accept it and return it?
Are there reviews?
How much of a fee does Booking take?

Am not sure, they handle all the money end for me, am a homestay, I don’t remember getting an option, I was offered a website, built by them with a fraction of the fees, it uses a wizard and its up and running in about 2 hours work. If you are on other platforms, consider using a channel manager, but learn how to use first, I jumped in too quick, lesson learnt. Have found the online support really good and helpfully

Thanks. I have asked booking . com if they will take payment on my behalf and they have advised it has not been rolled out in Australia yet.
Do you know how you can see how many people are viewing your listing? Thanks

How did you set up stripe to use it for this? Can you provide us with steps or small guide? thanks!