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Paying for albergues via Whatsapp?

JustJack

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF: May/June 2023
VDLP: April/May 2024
I emailed Albergue Rio Arga in Zubiri to book a bed, and they replied that they need a credit card number to secure the booking. They don't have a booking form on their website, and when asked they said I should send my credit card number to them via Whatsapp, and they provided their whatsapp number.

I know that technically it's not safe/recommended to send via whatsapp, but the messages do get encrypted, so really the only danger would be if I lost my phone and someone else got access to my sent messages and pulled the credit card number from there.

So I don't want to worry about it if sending credit card info is common practice along the camino, and I'll go ahead and do so.

What say you all? Do you ever send credit card info to accommodation providers via whatsapp? Part of my hesitation probably stems from the fact that whatsapp isn't widely used in Canada, so I'm not very familiar with it. But I do know how it works, and have used it before.
 
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Can you make the reservation and then pay cash when you arrive? Usually places will hold your bed until a certain time. You should call and update them if you won't arrive by that time.
 
WhatsApp is widely used in Spain, Portugal and much of Europe.

Provided that you are clear that you are talking to the correct Albergue then this is a common request, unfortunately. There was a time when it was uncommon but unfortunately some arrogant pilgrims either made multiple reservations at more than one Albergue and chose one later in the day or made a reservation and changed their mind without cancelling it. This leaves the Albergue out of pocket and other pilgrims missing out on a bed that they could have had.
 
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Thanks all. Calling them is a bit problematic, due to my inability to speak Spanish. I'll give some thought to whether or not I feel comfortable sending my cc info via whatsapp.
 
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Here is what I do as a general rule when I am uncertain about giving out my main credit card number to a site or business that I have not used before.

I use a service called Wise (used to be Wise Transfer) which allows me to create virtual credit cards, that is a credit card with a valid number but no physical card. I then put $5/ €5 in the account and give that credit card number to that site.

This way if they check the CC number it is confirmed correct as mostly people check by charging $/€1 against the card.

If the site is a scammer then the most I lose is $/€5.

Simple for me but it depends how used you are to technology and the Internet.

Edit:
I also use this method for those annoying sites that ask you to sign up for a regular payment but then make it difficult to cancel the regular payment. In this case I make sure that there is not enough money in the account for the payment and then, if necessary, I cancel that virtual credit card and create a new one.
 
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Here is what I do as a general rule when I am uncertain about giving out my main credit card number to a site or business that I have not used before.

I use a service called Wise (used to be Wise Transfer) which allows me to create virtual credit cards, that is a credit card with a valid number but no physical card. I then put $5/ €5 in the account and give that credit card number to that site.

This way if they check the CC number it is confirmed correct as mostly people check by charging $/€1 against the card.

If the site is a scammer then the most I lose is $/€5.

Simple for me but it depends how used you are to technology and the Internet.
Thanks for that. In this particular case I don't think there's any concern about the business. This is an albergue that's listed on sites like Gronze, and has many good reviews from pilgrims, including on this site. So I think everything is legit as far as the business is concerned, it's just a question about the security of sending the number via whatsapp, versus an online payment form.
 
Thanks for that. In this particular case I don't think there's any concern about the business. This is an albergue that's listed on sites like Gronze, and has many good reviews from pilgrims, including on this site. So I think everything is legit as far as the business is concerned, it's just a question about the security of sending the number via whatsapp, versus an online payment form.
WhatsApp is as secure as any online payment form.
 
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If you are concerned about your credit card number hanging around in a WhatsApp message on your phone then just delete the message a couple of days later.
 
As I said earlier, WhatsApp is widely used and trusted in Spain and Europe.
 
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I emailed Albergue Rio Arga in Zubiri to book a bed, and they replied that they need a credit card number to secure the booking. They don't have a booking form on their website, and when asked they said I should send my credit card number to them via Whatsapp, and they provided their whatsapp number.

I know that technically it's not safe/recommended to send via whatsapp, but the messages do get encrypted, so really the only danger would be if I lost my phone and someone else got access to my sent messages and pulled the credit card number from there.

So I don't want to worry about it if sending credit card info is common practice along the camino, and I'll go ahead and do so.

What say you all? Do you ever send credit card info to accommodation providers via whatsapp? Part of my hesitation probably stems from the fact that whatsapp isn't widely used in Canada, so I'm not very familiar with it. But I do know how it works, and have used it before.
:🤷: I've paid all of my group reservations ahead using credit card.
Most credit card companies have notifications in place and report any suspicious activity.
Most protect your account if you report purchases you did not make.
I can even set mine to tell me each and every time a charge is made on it.
I admit it concerned me in the beginning, but not so much anymore.

Some places like Express Bouricott in SJPP, Caminofacil, or Hostal Cruce in Villafranca, will send you a link with which to pay via credit card. Too bad the rest of the albergues don't get on board with that.
 
Due to sending the number via whatsapp?
Not sure how it happened. I did not put it out on WhatsApp, but it has made me Uber cautious when traveling.
Such a hassel to have a card you depend on for other things cancelled when you are traveling. We always have a backup card. I usually pay cash and seldom reserve. I am considering getting a Revolut account though which is similar to what @DoughnutANZ mentioned. Recommended to me by some Spaniards last year.
 
:🤷: I've paid all of my group reservations ahead using credit card.
Most credit card companies have notifications in place and report any suspicious activity.
Most protect your account if you report purchases you did not make.
I can even set mine to tell me each and every time a charge is made on it.
I admit it concerned me in the beginning, but not so much anymore.
Yes, mine notifies me which is how I knew last year, but they still cancelled my card while I was in the middle of no where and said it would be a week to get a replacement to me. Asked where I would be in a week and of course I did not know...just had them send it home and waited a month till I got home.
 
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Do you use it instead of a Travel Card or Debit card for daily use on a Camino or anywhere?

Obviously you trust it.
I use a real credit card from Wise when I travel. I do this for a number of reasons with the primary reason being that they give me the best conversion rates but also because they allow me to manage my account very easily, transfering money in as I need it and that keeps my overall risk down if I lose my card.

For me, there are two areas of "trust" for a financial services company like Wise:
1 Are they a scammer site that will steal my money - No
2 Do I trust them not to go bankrupt at some stage and if so what happens to any money I have with them - There is a possibility that they may go bankrupt one day and so I am happy to move large amounts through them quickly but I don't keep large amounts of money in my accounts with them.
 
Here I am demonstrating my ignorance of whatsapp again, as well as Spanish mobile numbers, but here is the number the albergue gave me - 680104471.

Is it missing a digit? Or are Spanish numbers 9 digits?
 
Yes, mine notifies me which is how I knew last year, but they still cancelled my card while I was in the middle of no where and said it would be a week to get a replacement to me. Asked where I would be in a week and of course I did not know...just had them send it home and waited a month till I got home.
Yup. It's good to have Plan 2
 
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I called Alberque Rio Arga using WhatsApp last week. I spoke with Santiago to make a reservation for 8/27/23. The number is +34 680 104 471. He stated that the best time to call is 7pm Spain time. I was not required to pay or leave credit card information - just my name for the reservation. Do not know whether he speaks English as we spoke in Spanish. Best of luck to you.
 
Here I am demonstrating my ignorance of whatsapp again, as well as Spanish mobile numbers, but here is the number the albergue gave me - 680104471.

Is it missing a digit? Or are Spanish numbers 9 digits?
You will also need the country code
 
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Of course, the country code. I knew I was going to embarrass myself with that question. Forgot to include the country code.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.
I emailed Albergue Rio Arga in Zubiri to book a bed, and they replied that they need a credit card number to secure the booking. They don't have a booking form on their website, and when asked they said I should send my credit card number to them via Whatsapp, and they provided their whatsapp number.

I know that technically it's not safe/recommended to send via whatsapp, but the messages do get encrypted, so really the only danger would be if I lost my phone and someone else got access to my sent messages and pulled the credit card number from there.

So I don't want to worry about it if sending credit card info is common practice along the camino, and I'll go ahead and do so.

What say you all? Do you ever send credit card info to accommodation providers via whatsapp? Part of my hesitation probably stems from the fact that whatsapp isn't widely used in Canada, so I'm not very familiar with it. But I do know how it works, and have used it before.
I have a booking with them for June and all they asked for is a phone number. The booking was made by email. I have given my Australian number, and said I would send the number for the Spanish Sim card that I will get on arrival in Spain.
Good luck getting it sorted out
 
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Jack, how about emailing them with all the information they need in Spanish and saying that you will call them at a certain time with the credit card information? Let them know ahead of time that you are doing so with no knowledge of Spanish except for what you will have already translated.

Oh, yes find out in the email if they need the expiration date and/or security code.
 
Haven't read all the replies but my first reaction is NO! I live in Europe and use WhatsApp daily but I would never send either credit card or bank info to someone unless family and even then request immediate deletion. Before you know it, your details are saved somewhere in someone's cloud.
This 👆. Also Wise is fantastic. My wife runs her business through it and has clients all over the world. Conversions are easy. Setting up new accounts is a breeze and as Señor Doughnut said previously you can make a virtual credit card up in no time and use that for any expense you feel might be vulnerable.
 
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WhatsApp is as secure as any online payment form.
Nope.
If you are concerned about your credit card number hanging around in a WhatsApp message on your phone then just delete the message a couple of days later.
Once you send it unencrypted, there is nothing to stop if from spreading.
As I said earlier, WhatsApp is widely used and trusted in Spain and Europe.
But not for payments.

There is a big difference between encrypting messages, and encrypting credit card information. Messages are meant to be seen by both parties, but in every certified booking system the recipient should have very restricted access to the actual information. Instead that information should be processed automatically.

If you send it, and they screen shot it to send to their spouse to process it later or if they write it down in a notebook (I have seen this far too many times) there is little you can do.

Just don't do it.
 
Not sure if this is related but, recently I received a similar request for a booking.com reservation. See attached screenshot from booking.com messages. I was a bit freaked out by the request to provide cc details via WhatsApp and considered cancelling the reservation altogether and monitor my cc activity for any fraudulent transactions. Several hours later, I received the message to ignore the first message. Seems strange, but since then there is nothing weird with my cc and my reservation is still confirmed.
 

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I just tried to reserve a room at a guesthouse using What'sApp and they asked for cc info as well as passport information. I understand that they need to see my passport at check in but this is the first time I've been asked in advance. It doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
 
I just tried to reserve a room at a guesthouse using What'sApp and they asked for cc info as well as passport information. I understand that they need to see my passport at check in but this is the first time I've been asked in advance. It doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
In NA, passport info is considered private, and not to be shared. Not so in Europe. Your passport will be photo'd or scanned everywhere you go. It's the law, they have to obtain a copy and keep it in their records. You even need to enter your passport number to buy bus and train tickets. I have a photo of mine stored on my phone, and supply it via Whatsapp to innkeepers all the time. This is routine business in Spain, get used to it. Whatsapp is as secure a means of moving pictures as anything, much better than SMS text or email. You'll be fine.
 
In NA, passport info is considered private, and not to be shared. Not so in Europe. Your passport will be photo'd or scanned everywhere you go. It's the law, they have to obtain a copy and keep it in their records. You even need to enter your passport number to buy bus and train tickets. I have a photo of mine stored on my phone, and supply it via Whatsapp to innkeepers all the time. This is routine business in Spain, get used to it. Whatsapp is as secure a means of moving pictures as anything, much better than SMS text or email. You'll be fine.
Good to know. Thanks!
 
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This might be a bit naïve. Bear with me. I've been thinking about the issue of sending credit card info through Whatsapp. How is that any different than calling and giving my info to someone, or providing it at the time of check-in, for that matter? That info is then accessible to a number of people who may or may not be trustworthy.
 
@jane barclay
I see these requests as assuring me of a bed at these accommodations.
You don’t need to supply but you might not find the accommodation you want when you arrive. It’s a risk you need to weigh up.
Sadly., I see the reason that this confirmation is being requested more in recent years is because some people aren’t sure where they might decide to stop and book a few places and also not contact to cancel the places not required. This makes two losers. Ie The accommodation Providor and any others who will be told that there are no vacancies. You and I would not do this but it has happened. Hence, I see nothing wrong with the request to cover themselves in the event of a ‘no show ‘. Your credit card will be charged. This doesn’t help the people looking for an unused bed but does cover the Providor from financial loss.
I hope that explains it. That is how I see it anyhow. I know it seems a risk but I’ve not seen an alternative method.
If you don’t want to send the requested info via WhatsApp - try calling them when you book or send email.( Edit: email not secure / ref advice below from @Rick M )
and instead give detail via phone but WhatsApp is ok .
Good luck
Buen camino.
 
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If you don’t want to send the requested info via WhatsApp - try calling them when you book or send email and give detail via that medium.
email is the LEAST secure way I can imagine to send a credit card number.....don't do it. A phone call is quite secure. So is Whatsapp. You can also call them via whatsapp to avoid long distance charges.

I think our poster is a bit weirded out by an unfamiliar technology. Giving anyone your credit card details means you are trusting them not to misuse it. Whatsapp may look like way for scoundrels and bots to rob people, and I'm sure it does happen. Facebook, (they run whatsapp) however, has gone to great lengths to make sure that any whatsapp account is tied to a real phone number that matches the person requesting the account. All whatsapp data transfers are fully encrypted - unlike email or SMS test messages. Doesn't mean the person on the other end isn't a scoundrel, but it's not likely to be the case for an albergue you might find on Gronze or some other guide book.

Bottom line is that as long as you believe the Whatsapp number you are corresponding with is the business you are trying to transact with, Whatsapp is a preferred way to provide confidential information of all kinds.
 
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email is the LEAST secure way I can imagine to send a credit card number.....don't do it. A phone call is quite secure. So is Whatsapp. You can also call them via whatsapp to avoid long distance charges.

I think our poster is a bit weirded out by an unfamiliar technology. Giving anyone your credit card details means you are trusting them not to misuse it. Whatsapp may look like way for scoundrels and bots to rob people, and I'm sure it does happen. Facebook, (they run whatsapp) however, has gone to great lengths to make sure that any whatsapp account is tied to a real phone number that matches the person requesting the account. All whatsapp data transfers are fully encrypted - unlike email or SMS test messages. Doesn't mean the person on the other end isn't a scoundrel, but it's not likely to be the case for an albergue you might find on Gronze or some other guide book.

Bottom line is that as long as you believe the Whatsapp number you are corresponding with is the business you are trying to transact with, Whatsapp is a preferred way to provide confidential information of all kinds.
More bad advice I’m afraid. CC details should always be end to end encrypted and the end user should never have access to it directly. It doesn’t matter what technology you use to send it, if it gets written down in a notebook at the reception you are at risk.

Anybody that asks you to send cc info has, in doing, demonstrated sufficiently that they are not qualified to receive it.
 
This might be a bit naïve. Bear with me. I've been thinking about the issue of sending credit card info through Whatsapp. How is that any different than calling and giving my info to someone, or providing it at the time of check-in, for that matter? That info is then accessible to a number of people who may or may not be trustworthy.
I used to work retail many years ago when credit card use required a machine that would create a physical record of the transaction, with a copy to be handed to the customer and a copy to be kept by the merchant. Every employee at every place you used your credit card had all of your credit card info. There were customers who would carefully want to tear up the intervening carbon to protect themselves but we had our copy and I could easily have noted down anything I wanted. It seemed to me like worrying that the windows were locked when the door was wide open.
 
I used to work retail many years ago when credit card use required a machine that would create a physical record of the transaction, with a copy to be handed to the customer and a copy to be kept by the merchant. Every employee at every place you used your credit card had all of your credit card info. There were customers who would carefully want to tear up the intervening carbon to protect themselves but we had our copy and I could easily have noted down anything I wanted. It seemed to me like worrying that the windows were locked when the door was wide open.
Back when a physical record of the transaction was made, the card was physically present and merely having the number wasn’t nearly as handy as it is today.
 
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I’m astonished some are blithely assuring the OP that it’s ok to send credit card details over WhatsApp.

Living in the EU, I use WhatsApp many times every day, but would never assume it might be a safe channel through which to send credit card details. Did they ask for the 3 digit security code as well? I have never been asked to send credit card details via WhatsApp.

If an albergue wants such payments to confirm bookings - perfectly reasonable - it should set up a simple online way of doing it (widespread practice throughout EU using credit cards, PayPal & bank wire).
 
If an albergue wants such payments to confirm bookings - perfectly reasonable - it should set up a simple online way of doing it (widespread practice throughout EU using credit cards, PayPal & bank wire).
I agree, except for the bank wire, which is difficult and can be costly for those of us in N America (possibly other countries outside Europe too)

I had an issue last year with an apartment that we rented for a few days in Porto via VRBO. We had paid the full rental amount through VRBO, then I received an email from the owner asking us to send the city tax of 12 Euros via bank transfer before they would give us instructions for entering the apartment.

I couldn't do this from my US bank without paying fees higher than the 12 Euros and jumping through a lot of hoops. I offered to pay via PayPal, but they did not have a PayPal account. Finally they agreed that we can leave the 12 Euros on the table when we left the apartment.
 
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