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WhatsApp, pay in advance?

KariannNor

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances/Finestere 2023, 2024 ?
A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..
 
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Usually it is trust and unfortunately a number of people do make multiple bookings for the same night and choose the one that suits on the day without telling the other hosts.

As a result most places that accept bookings via WhatsApp will now tell you that there is a time limit on your booking. For example, if you don't arrive by 3pm then they will sell your bed to someone else who asks.

If you have a situation where you know that you will arrive later than their deadline then you need to tell your host upfront and, as I did once when I knew that I would arrive around 6pm, message them from time to time during the day to reassure them that you are still coming.

In my case, I arrived at 7pm to a full albergue with my bed set aside 😃
 
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Usually it is trust and unfortunately a number of people do make multiple bookings for the same night and choose the one that suits on the day without telling the other hosts.

As a result most places that accept bookings via WhatsApp will now tell you that there is a time limit on your booking. For example, if you don't arrive by 3pm then they will sell your bed to someone else who asks.

If you have a situation where you know that you will arrive later than their deadline then you need to tell your host upfront and, as I did once when I knew that I would arrive around 6pm, message them from time to time during the day to reassure them that you are still coming.

In my case, I arrived at 7pm to a full albergue with my bed set aside 😃
Thanks for the informative answer. Yes, unfortunately there will always be someone who acts disrespectfully.
Good tip about keeping in touch the same day, I'll do that
 
Thanks for the informative answer. Yes, unfortunately there will always be someone who acts disrespectfully.
Good tip about keeping in touch the same day, I'll do that

Good communication and respect are key I think.
I tend to make a Whatsapp booking a day or two in advance and tell them roughly when I expect to arrive.
If I'm running late I'll send them a message with an updated arrival time (estimate).
Never had a problem.
 
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I’ve booked my first nights (SJPDP, Roncesvalles, Zubiri and Pamplona). I used Booking.com for one, the Albergue’s website for two, and WhatsApp for one. I paid on the websites and Booking, but for Zubiri, I simply used WhatsApp to inquire as to availability. She was so nice. She DID text that she would reserve a bed, but I had to email or text her the night before in Roncesvalles to confirm I still wanted it and then she asked if, on the way to Zubiri, I didn’t mind letting her know what time I might arrive. She reserved me for €17 to be paid AT THE DOOR. I just texted her last week to confirm she was, in fact, reserving me a bed. She said she was looking forward to meeting me. Couldn’t have been nicer.
 
It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.
In fact, the strange thing is that you are surprised that a system can rely on trust !

It should be the normal, but now, in France, even restaurants complain about people that book and do not come, without even calling...

On the camino, as others say, some people book several place in order to choose the most appropriate one !
We have to fight against this behaviour (*), otherwise it will be more and more difficult for us pilgrims as well as for hospitaleros...

*: namely by explaining to people who tell they do that how it is bad.
 
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A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..
Most albergues based on trust. I would emailed them to book, and agreed on a method to communicate later : WhatsApp or email. I would remind them one week in advance and the day I arrive. But some give you a link to 'validate' the credit card, only charge on day of arrival.
 
A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..
There were a couple albergues I stayed at that only took reservations through Booking.com .
 
A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..
Like the last two years, I have already pre-booked all my accommodation for this year's Camino (Astorga - SdC).
Where possible, I choose Booking.com with the option to cancel free of charge until shortly before the date.
Only in rare cases do you still have to pay at the time of booking (without losing the right to cancel). In a few cases you have to transfer the price of the overnight stay separately a few days before the overnight stay.
If booking is not an option, I try to get in touch via Whatsapp (most Spanish mobile phones start with a 6). Many hostels accept this with the requirement to reconfirm the reservation one or two days before the overnight stay. In very rare cases, credit card information is requested.
I personally have never had any problems with bookings or cancellations.
I am now happy to refrain from comments that reject reservations. Being in my 70s at the back, I don't want to take part in the bed race and enjoy knowing exactly where I can lay my head in the evening
 
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In fact, the strange thing is that you are surprised that a system can rely on trust !

It should be the normal, but now, in France, even restaurants complain about people that book and do not come, without even calling...

On the camino, as others say, some people book several place in order to choose the most appropriate one !
We have to fight against this behaviour (*), otherwise it will be more and more difficult for us pilgrims as well as for hospitaleros...

*: namely by explaining to people who tell they do that how it is bad.
In France, those practices are too often, prevalent.
 
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I use booking dot com mostly. My credit card company offers a "virtual card" to be used in place of my regular card. I use it and pay up front when I make the reservation as often as they allow it.
I never heard from my bank about this 'virtual card' but it sounds like a smart thing to do. I must inquire!
Is it a card number that is a type of substitute (place holder, if you will) that you provide online or over the phone?
 
I never heard from my bank about this 'virtual card' but it sounds like a smart thing to do. I must inquire!
Is it a card number that is a type of substitute (place holder, if you will) that you provide online or over the phone?
I have just acquired a WISE account and will try it out on the Camino. It comes with a debit card.
 
I never heard from my bank about this 'virtual card' but it sounds like a smart thing to do. I must inquire!
Is it a card number that is a type of substitute (place holder, if you will) that you provide online or over the phone?
It's basically all the details of the card (number, expiry date, CVV) but no physical card. You can jut copy the numbers from the app. You also can use it with a payment app on your phone to make payments in person.
 
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It's basically all the details of the card (number, expiry date, CVV) but no physical card. You can jut copy the numbers from the app. You also can use it with a payment app on your phone to make payments in person.
I looked it up last week. Some US bank carriers offer this. It isn't your real card number, but sort of a code that will substitute for your card. If your bank or carrier does not offer the service, Visa, Mastercard, etc do so you can better protect your card. I will probably use it the next time I travel. Here's some info.
 
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I never heard from my bank about this 'virtual card' but it sounds like a smart thing to do. I must inquire!
Is it a card number that is a type of substitute (place holder, if you will) that you provide online or over the phone?
Yes, it is a virtual number that is NOT the same as your regular card. But if you confirm the charge, then it goes to your card. I use it for all of my bookings.
 
A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..

Some places prefer booking.com as it handles the paperwork and eliminates the risk of non-payment by no-shows. However the rate is usually higher on booking.com than booking direct.

Places that request your id in advance.. it's an annoying habit but usually to expedite checkin.

When the accommodation on gronze has a link there's a chance gronze are getting commission from booking.com. I'm not sure though.

Booking weeks in advance is probably fine. I'd still recommend you confirm closer to the date. Also if you're arriving late let them know so they don't assume you're not coming.

Paying upfront on paypal is fine but I'd probably advise you to be cautious so you don't fall for fraud again. Yes, it sounds like booking.com had a fraudulent listing, or perhaps the email address the accommodation used was compromised (accessed by hackers). But had you stuck to booking.com's system you would not have fallen for the scam. Payment is either through booking.com or usually upon arrival. If you fell for one scam I'm afraid you'll fall for a similar one by taking instructions to transfer money via paypal.
 
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A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..

Hi,

Booking is a safe site to use, just do not respond to any messages that send you a link to verify your card, those are always scams.

If you use email or WhatsApp, you are essentially promising to show up and pay upon arrival. If you are subsequently asked to pay via a link…that could also be a scam. It might not but be on the safe side, just say you don’t have a card that works with the link and say you’ll pay upon arrival. I did this a few times on the Norte and it was fine. They held the bed.

In general, on and off the Camino, if someone sends you a link and asks you to verify any info, add a cc, don’t. This is how 95% of malware and CC scams happen. No company big or small needs to send you a link via text, email or WhatsApp to ask for information. When in doubt, skip the link and go direct to the site. A sense of urgency in this requests are actually the biggest clue that they are scams.

I hope this is very clear.
 
Hi,

Booking is a safe site to use, just do not respond to any messages that send you a link to verify your card, those are always scams.

If you use email or WhatsApp, you are essentially promising to show up and pay upon arrival. If you are subsequently asked to pay via a link…that could also be a scam. It might not but be on the safe side, just say you don’t have a card that works with the link and say you’ll pay upon arrival. I did this a few times on the Norte and it was fine. They held the bed.

In general, on and off the Camino, if someone sends you a link and asks you to verify any info, add a cc, don’t. This is how 95% of malware and CC scams happen. No company big or small needs to send you a link via text, email or WhatsApp to ask for information. When in doubt, skip the link and go direct to the site. A sense of urgency in this requests are actually the biggest clue that they are scams.

I hope this is very clear.
Unfortunately, you are not right. I have never and would not respond to inquiries from anyone, it has been known for a long time that there is fraud in that way, not just this booking sites. I told about it here in another thread when it happened.

I have only used the sites to make reservations. The bank contacted me after blocking my card because they saw that a foreign site known for fraud had charged it in a suspisious way (that was the words used, by I have no idea how they could see). It wasn't a huge amount and I'll get it back via insurance. As explained, I have only used Booking.com and Omio in the week before. I have not received an answer as to which of these companies it was and don't know if they inform.
The bank recommended that I have another debit card that does not contain money, i.e. empty, for reservations. Then I put money into it before the time they are supposed to withdraw the amount. Or, use PayPal, which is consider a safer way.

That said, I have not heard of others who have been defrauded by them, only lots via various other online shops that require a card number when ordering. It is also no longer the case that you can see a "different" address than usual to the page as it was before. That's why I wrote about it.
 
Hi,

Booking is a safe site to use, just do not respond to any messages that send you a link to verify your card, those are always scams.

If you use email or WhatsApp, you are essentially promising to show up and pay upon arrival. If you are subsequently asked to pay via a link…that could also be a scam. It might not but be on the safe side, just say you don’t have a card that works with the link and say you’ll pay upon arrival. I did this a few times on the Norte and it was fine. They held the bed.

In general, on and off the Camino, if someone sends you a link and asks you to verify any info, add a cc, don’t. This is how 95% of malware and CC scams happen. No company big or small needs to send you a link via text, email or WhatsApp to ask for information. When in doubt, skip the link and go direct to the site. A sense of urgency in this requests are actually the biggest clue that they are scams.

I hope this is very clear.
 
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Unfortunately, you are not right. I have never and would not respond to inquiries from anyone, it has been known for a long time that there is fraud in that way, not just this booking sites. I told about it here in another thread when it happened.

I have only used the sites to make reservations. The bank contacted me after blocking my card because they saw that a foreign site known for fraud had charged it in a suspisious way (that was the words used, by I have no idea how they could see). It wasn't a huge amount and I'll get it back via insurance. As explained, I have only used Booking.com and Omio in the week before. I have not received an answer as to which of these companies it was and don't know if they inform.
The bank recommended that I have another debit card that does not contain money, i.e. empty, for reservations. Then I put money into it before the time they are supposed to withdraw the amount. Or, use PayPal, which is consider a safer way.

That said, I have not heard of others who have been defrauded by them, only lots via various other online shops that require a card number when ordering. It is also no longer the case that you can see a "different" address than usual to the page as it was before. That's why I wrote about it.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to say you did anything wrong to be in this position. I can see how it may have come off this way. It wasn’t my intent.I guess I was speaking in more general terms of site safety which you obviously know your way around but others might not. I saw some comments where people were debating when it’s okay to pay by link or not but it never is.
I do use booking all the time but I only ever use the app on my phone which prevents me from accidentally using a spoof site. Not saying you did that either! Again, more generally site safety tips.
The advice your bank gave you is super smart! I appreciate you sharing that! I have a similar tool with my Apple Pay account where they apply a faux number linked to my real account so the receiving site never gets my actual card details.
It’s rough out there!
 
I looked it up last week. Some US bank carriers offer this. It isn't your real card number, but sort of a code that will substitute for your card. If your bank or carrier does not offer the service, Visa, Mastercard, etc do so you can better protect your card. I will probably use it the next time I travel. Here's some info.
Great to know! Thanks.
 
Hi,

Booking is a safe site to use, just do not respond to any messages that send you a link to verify your card, those are always scams.

If you use email or WhatsApp, you are essentially promising to show up and pay upon arrival. If you are subsequently asked to pay via a link…that could also be a scam. It might not but be on the safe side, just say you don’t have a card that works with the link and say you’ll pay upon arrival. I did this a few times on the Norte and it was fine. They held the bed.

In general, on and off the Camino, if someone sends you a link and asks you to verify any info, add a cc, don’t. This is how 95% of malware and CC scams happen. No company big or small needs to send you a link via text, email or WhatsApp to ask for information. When in doubt, skip the link and go direct to the site. A sense of urgency in this requests are actually the biggest clue that they are scams.

I hope this is very clear.
I agree with your post! I’m nomadic and do 250-300 nights a year on booking . com and whilst no one is beyond scamming, if you follow your advice you should be able to avoid it. Look at the wording on any communication you get, scammers have poor grammar whilst booking .com will have templates and professional copywriters. It’s a giveaway. Don’t click on links. If an email contains something that ‘surprises you’ it may well be a scam.
 
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A question that is probably obvious. I'd rather not use Booking.com now after being scammed, so I'm wondering how to book via WhatsApp. Do you pay (Paypal?) in advance when you make a reservation? I reckon they want a guarantee that the person will actually show up. Or do you pay a day or so before the stay, like in Booking.com? Should I send a photo of my ID card? It seems a bit strange if the system is only based on trust, then they can end up with empty beds, people who don't cancel and have to say no to people knocking on the door.

And then a question about Gronze. When the accommodations there have a direct link to Booking.Com, do they then prefer that you book through them because it might save work? I don't know how this works, I guess they pay a fee to be registered there.

Or is calling the best and what they prefer? I would like to book the first two nights, but it seems a bit strange to call about something several weeks in advance. Plus my Spanish skills aren't the best..
I reserved with WhatsApp once, but I paid in cash when I got there. I've reserved directly from a accommodation's website and used their payment forms. My phone service doesn't allow me to phone or text outside the US. Some of the guides have websites listed, and sometimes I've looked for places on Booking and then contacted directly. If you're booking before you leave it's easier to contact place directly, you can run it through Google translate if you don't have a common language.
 
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I reserved with WhatsApp once, but I paid in cash when I got there. I've reserved directly from a accommodation's website and used their payment forms. My phone service doesn't allow me to phone or text outside the US. Some of the guides have websites listed, and sometimes I've looked for places on Booking and then contacted directly. If you're booking before you leave it's easier to contact place directly, you can run it through Google translate if you don't have a common language.
Also, I think some hotels wanted all my info beforehand, Oviedo comes to mind. Not sure how you know it's legit or not.
 
Except when you get messages from properties where you have booked via the Booking platform.
Hi! I’m confused and spiraling a little after I just booked all my accommodations with booking.com. Can you explain the scams that seem to be happening and how I can avoid it? I’ll be traveling with my kiddo and cannot risk having nowhere to sleep.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Hi! I’m confused and spiraling a little after I just booked all my accommodations with booking.com. Can you explain the scams that seem to be happening and how I can avoid it? I’ll be traveling with my kiddo and cannot risk having nowhere to sleep.
IMG_0217.png
Yes! So in the screenshot you can see where I got a message from someone I was already booked with. The message explains that they need to verify my credit card info and have me a link. If you read the link carefully, it is not booking.com. It looks like it could be but it’s not. It’s “booking.users-rules.com”. Not a legitimate business link. Also, booking has already verified my payment info and the hostel would not need to send links on behalf of booking. . There is no reason for me to do this. I replied “I think you got hacked” and they did actually get compromised.

This happens to small hostels and guest houses when a volunteer or employee or even a guest can access the computer where booking has been left open or they have access to the email address used to create the booking account.
Never click on a link in a message like this.
If you are tempted, always read the url and make sure it matches perfectly with the real website. Booking.com, not booking-users.genius.com
Never book from web searches that might be spoofed versions of the website with a similar looking url. Use the app where possible and if not, always double check that it’s booking.com and not something different.
 
Also, if you are suspicious and the URL looks good do not click the link. Type in the URL into a browser, don't do a copy and paste. Some letters that look like they are in the Latin alphabet may be similar looking letters in another alphabet and you could end up at a faked website.
 
Also, if you are suspicious and the URL looks good do not click the link. Type in the URL into a browser, don't do a copy and paste. Some letters that look like they are in the Latin alphabet may be similar looking letters in another alphabet and you could end up at a faked website.
Or in the case of booking.com, use their app, and check to see if you have messages there.
 
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Hi! I’m confused and spiraling a little after I just booked all my accommodations with booking.com. Can you explain the scams that seem to be happening and how I can avoid it? I’ll be traveling with my kiddo and cannot risk having nowhere to sleep.
Making a reservation via booking. com, or any other legitimate site is still far more secure than phone, WhatsApp, text, letter, or any other medium. It’s a very small number of people who have been scammed, which of course is no consolation for those who have been. @jenwearing advice is very good, as in the example provided.
 
View attachment 168122
Yes! So in the screenshot you can see where I got a message from someone I was already booked with. The message explains that they need to verify my credit card info and have me a link. If you read the link carefully, it is not booking.com. It looks like it could be but it’s not. It’s “booking.users-rules.com”. Not a legitimate business link. Also, booking has already verified my payment info and the hostel would not need to send links on behalf of booking. . There is no reason for me to do this. I replied “I think you got hacked” and they did actually get compromised.

This happens to small hostels and guest houses when a volunteer or employee or even a guest can access the computer where booking has been left open or they have access to the email address used to create the booking account.
Never click on a link in a message like this.
If you are tempted, always read the url and make sure it matches perfectly with the real website. Booking.com, not booking-users.genius.com
Never book from web searches that might be spoofed versions of the website with a similar looking url. Use the app where possible and if not, always double check that it’s booking.com and not something different.
What I do when receiving a message or email from a place that asks for personal information and isn't a direct reply to one of my messages or emails is to contact the hostel/hotel/whatever directly by phone or email independent of the email you just received (that is, from their contact info elsewhere). Then ask them if they sent you the email/message.
 
I use booking.com often for lodging on my Caminos. I do have one reservation this time using Whatsapp and I asked if they would like prepayment. The owner replied usually they require a 40% deposit, but for foreigners she charges nothing in advance, mentioning it was more expensive for her if she did, which I didn't really understand.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I use booking.com often for lodging on my Caminos. I do have one reservation this time using Whatsapp and I asked if they would like prepayment. The owner replied usually they require a 40% deposit, but for foreigners she charges nothing in advance, mentioning it was more expensive for her if she did, which I didn't really understand.
How does a WA booking work if you have to to pay upfront. Bank transfer or PayPal?
 
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What I do when receiving a message or email from a place that asks for personal information and isn't a direct reply to one of my messages or emails is to contact the hostel/hotel/whatever directly by phone or email independent of the email you just received (that is, from their contact info elsewhere). Then ask them if they sent you the email/message.
This is a good question.
If they reach out to you in a new medium or from a new account/handle it’s perfectly okay to go back to the booking app or call the place directly (with the phone number published in booking) to clear up anything.

That said, If you used Booking, they don’t need more personal information from you. They have your full name and a guarantee of payment via the site. All they might need is your ETA.
Some hotels maaaay send you a form to fill in that might ask for a passport number as well. They do this to speed up check-in. Just make sure that the link is matching their published when address. If you can’t verify that, and I have done this before, ….”I’m sorry, my phone is blocking the link, can I just get you this info at check-in? ”.
This is always always always fine.

Reaching out directly on WhatsApp, the hostellers only need your full name and passport nationality. Not the number, not your CC.
They may send you a link to their website/online reservation page and that’s fine to click on and use to make the reservation too. They don’t ask for payment info. A website that collects payment is pricey and requires maintenance so it’s rare for a camino albergue to have one. It’s easier for them to go through Booking. If a WhatsApp exchange is looking for payment with a link, just say “I’m using cash so I’ll pay when I arrive” and that’s always fine too.
 
How does a WA booking work if you have to to pay upfront. Bank transfer or PayPal?
I’ve done 40 ish WhatsApp bookings and only one asked me for prepayment. I said I didn’t have a card that would work and he said fine. I paid cash when I arrived. No problem.

This is important.
They don’t actually require prepayment if they are asking for it via WhatsApp.
If they required it. They would formalize it.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I’ve done 40 ish WhatsApp bookings and only one asked me for prepayment. I said I didn’t have a card that would work and he said fine. I paid cash when I arrived. No problem.

This is important.
They don’t actually require prepayment if they are asking for it via WhatsApp.
If they required it. They would formalize it.
Yes 100% agree and very important! No issue booking via WA only the small number of time folks seem to be asked for card details. Phone same I guess. As you say if it was a regular thing it would be formalised via a platform. !
 

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