How to Pay for a Hostel: A Clear and Confident Guide

Written by: Chris Richardson

When planning a trip, finding affordable accommodation is often a top priority for travelers. Hostels offer the best budget-friendly option for those looking to save money on accommodation. However, knowing how to pay for a hostel can be confusing, especially for first-time hostel guests.

When booking a hostel, there are a few payment options available. Some booking websites, such as, require a deposit to be paid when booking, with the remaining balance due upon arrival. Other sites may only require a credit card to hold the reservation, with payment due upon check-in. It’s important to carefully read the payment policies of each hostel before booking to avoid any surprises or misunderstandings.

While credit cards are typically the preferred method of payment for hostels, some may also accept cash or other forms of payment. Confirming the accepted payment methods with the hostel before arrival is important if you have a specific payment need to ensure a smooth check-in process. By understanding the payment options available and checking the payment policies for each hostel, travelers can confidently book their budget-friendly accommodation without any payment-related stress.

Planning Your Budget

When planning a trip, you must consider the budget for your accommodation. Hostels are a great option for budget travelers and I can 100% recommend them to get the most out of your trip. But it is still important to plan to ensure that the cost of accommodation does not exceed the overall budget for the trip. 

To plan the budget for a hostel stay, backpackers and travelers alike should consider the following factors:

  • Location: You’ll find hostels in popular tourist destinations or city centers may be more expensive than those located further away from the main attractions. Research the area to find a hostel that fits within the budget.
  • Length of Stay: The longer the stay in a hostel, the more the cost will increase. Consider the length of the trip and plan accordingly.
  • Room Type: Dorm rooms are generally cheaper than private rooms. However, a private room may be worth the extra cost if privacy is a priority. I recommend mixing it up to balance the cost. Sharing a room is not as scary as you think.
  • Season: Hostel prices will vary depending on the season. Consider traveling during the off-season to save money if you’re looking at having a tight budget.
  • Amenities: Some hostels offer more amenities, such as a free breakfast or laundry facilities. Consider the cost of these amenities when planning the budget.

Once all your travel factors have been considered, travelers can create a budget for their hostel stay. This can be done using a spreadsheet or budgeting app. I used a Google Sheets file to store all my budget info, it was great for keeping track of where I was an what I paid. The budget should include the cost of the hostel, any additional amenities, and a buffer for unexpected expenses.

It is important to stick to the budget to avoid overspending. But at the same time, travel can be impulsive so don’t skip something you really want to do purely on cost. To this day, I still regret missing out on a couple of tours with friends I met at a hostel because I was too firm on my budget. There’s always a way to juggle the budget as long as you don’t over-commit to often.

You should also consider ways to save money during their stay, such as cooking meals instead of eating out and walking as much as you can to avoid short public transport stops or expensive taxis.

Exploring Payment Methods

When it comes to paying for a hostel, a few different payment methods are available. Here are the most common ways to pay for a hostel:


Paying with cash is a popular option for many. It’s a simple way to pay for your accommodation and often the preferred method for budget-conscious travelers who want to avoid credit card fees.

If you’re paying with cash, have the correct amount on hand if you can. Hostels may not have much change available, so it’s best to be prepared. Some hostels may also require a cash deposit upon check-in, so be sure to ask about this beforehand.

Credit Card

Many, if not all, hostels accept credit card payments, which is a convenient option for travelers who don’t want to carry a lot of cash. Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards, but some hostels may also accept American Express, Discover or region-specific cards.

When paying with a credit card, be aware of any foreign transaction fees that may apply. These fees can add up quickly, so it’s a good idea to check with your credit card company before you travel. Some companies offer great deals on travel credit cards or fee-free cards so do your research before leaving home. They could save you a lot of money.

Online Transfers

Some hostels and booking sites may allow you to pay for your accommodation online using a bank transfer or a service like PayPal. This can be a convenient option if you don’t want to carry cash or use a credit card.

When paying online, be sure to double-check the hostel’s payment policies if you are opting to pay this way. Some hostels may require a deposit to be paid upfront, while others may allow you to pay the full amount upon arrival.

Considering Booking Platforms

When it comes to booking a hostel, there are a variety of booking platforms to choose from. Each platform has its pros and cons. Here are some things to consider when choosing a booking platform.


Hostelworld is one of the most popular booking platforms for hostels and one I have used extensively. It offers a wide selection of hostels across the world and has a user-friendly interface. One of the benefits of using Hostelworld is that it offers a best price guarantee. This means that if you find a cheaper price for the same hostel on another website, Hostelworld will match the price. You do need to fill out a claim form to obtain this so keep that in mind.

Hostelworld requires a booking deposit to secure a reservation. The deposit can be paid via debit credit card or PayPal. Hostelworld also offers a free cancellation policy, but the cancellation deadline varies depending on the hostel. is a popular booking platform for all accommodations, including hostels. It has a large selection of hostels and offers a user-friendly interface. One of the benefits of using is that it offers a free cancellation policy for most reservations. The cancellation deadline varies depending on the hostel. requires a credit card to secure a reservation. Some hostels may offer the option to pay in advance, but this varies depending on the hostel. It is important to read the booking terms and conditions carefully before making a reservation on

Taking Advantage of Discounts and Promotions

When paying for a hostel, it’s always a good idea to look for discounts and promotions that can help you save money. Here are a few tips to help you take advantage of these offers:

  • Sign up for loyalty programs: Some hostels offer loyalty programs that reward frequent guests with discounts, free nights, or other perks. Make sure to sign up for these programs and take advantage of any rewards that you earn.
  • Check for student or senior discounts: If you’re a student or a senior, you may be eligible for special discounts at certain hostels. Check with the hostel directly or look for these discounts on booking websites.
  • Look for promo codes: Before booking your stay, do a quick online search for promo codes that can help you save money. These codes may be available on the hostel’s website, booking websites, or third-party coupon sites. 
  • Book during off-peak times: Hostels may offer lower rates during off-peak times when there are fewer guests. If your travel plans are flexible, consider booking during these times to save money.
  • Book in advance: Many hostels offer discounts for guests who book in advance. If you know your travel dates, consider booking your stay early to take advantage of these discounts.
  • Book Direct: It may be cheaper to book direct with the hostel. If you have the time contact the hostel in advance and speak to the hostel staff to see if they offer direct booking discounts or deals outside of the booking portals.

Paying A Deposit

When staying in a hostel, it is common to pay a security deposit at the time of booking. This deposit reserves your spot at the hostel, with the final amount due to be paid at the destination hostel. It can be refunded if your booking includes a refund option. Usually, cheaper hostel rates forgo the refund option to make the price more appealing. So keep that in mind when making your booking.

Dealing with Extra Charges

When booking a hostel, it is important to be aware of any potential extra charges that may be added to the base price. These charges can vary depending on the hostel and their services. Here are some common extra charges to watch out for:

Booking Fees

Some hostels or booking sites charge a booking fee, which is typically a percentage of the total cost of the reservation. This fee is usually non-refundable and may be charged at the time of booking or upon arrival. Be sure to read the fine print before booking to avoid any surprises. When booking via HostelWorld there is no booking fee.

Late Check-In/Check-Out Fees

Hostels do not charge for late check-in as the nature of travel can be unpredictable and they understand that. Just aim to arrive while the reception is open or communicate to them when possible if you might be later than planned.

They also do not usually offer a late checkout due to the volume of travellers coming and going. So expect to be out of your room by the checkout time.

Additional Services

Some hostels offer additional services, such as laundry, tours or airport shuttle services, for an extra fee. Be sure to factor them into your budget when planning your trip if you plan to make use of them.

Final Thoughts

Paying for a hostel can be a straightforward process, provided that you take the necessary steps to ensure that your payment is secure and that you get the best value for your money.

One of the most popular ways to pay for a hostel is through online booking platforms like Hostelworld, It is important to note that Hostelworld charges a non-refundable booking deposit fee at the time of reservation, except in the case of Free Cancellation and Standard Flexible bookings.

Another option for a hostel is to pay in cash upon arrival. This can be a good option if you are traveling to a country where credit card usage is limited or if you prefer to have more control over your budget. However, it is important to remember that carrying large amounts of cash can be risky. You will most likely still need to pay a deposit online via credit or debit card, even if booking directly with the hostel.

Lastly, loyalty programs and discounts are worth considering when paying for a hostel. Some hostels offer loyalty programs that can help you save money on future bookings, and some booking platforms offer discounts for booking multiple nights or booking in advance.

Frequently Asked Questions

What payment methods are accepted by hostels on Hostelworld?

Hostels on Hostelworld accept payment via credit cards, debit cards or Paypal. However, it is important to note that not all hostels accept all payment methods. It is recommended to check the payment options available for each hostel when making a reservation.

How can I pay for my hostel reservation on Hostelworld?

To pay for a hostel reservation on Hostelworld, guests can simply follow the payment instructions provided during the booking process. 

Do I need a credit card to pay for a hostel on Hostelworld?

No, guests do not necessarily need a credit card to pay for a hostel reservation on Hostelworld. Hostelworld accepts debit cards and PayPal as payment methods as well. However, it is important to note that some hostels may require a credit card for security purposes.

Can I pay for my hostel reservation on Hostelworld with PayPal?

Yes, Hostelworld accepts PayPal as a payment method for hostel reservations. Guests can select PayPal as their preferred payment method during the booking process.

Is there a deposit required when booking a hostel on Hostelworld?

It depends on the hostel. Some hostels may require a deposit upon booking, while others may not. Guests can check the deposit requirements for each hostel when making a reservation on Hostelworld.

Can you pay cash at hostels?

Some hostels may accept cash payments on arrival. It is recommended to check with the hostel beforehand to confirm their payment options.

Can you pay for a hostel with a debit card?

Yes, Hostelworld accepts debit cards as a payment method for hostel reservations and most hostels that accept credit cards will also take debit cards. 

Do hostels or Hostelworld charge in local currency?

Hostelworld charge your deposit and booking fee in US Dollars (US$), Euro(€), or Great British Pounds (GBP£). Please note that the remaining balance due, which is paid directly to the hostel, will always be in the local currency of the property booked.

The option to view your booking in any other currency is an indicator only, and they do guarantee the exchange rate on the day to be the same when the charge appears on your card. So allow for fluctuating exchange rates.

Does Hostelworld charge international/foreign transaction fees?

No, Hostelworld does not charge international fees. If you pay via credit card, the charge currency and exchange rate will be decided by your bank and they will apply the transaction fee.