Using debit cards at a hotel can make for an unpleasant stay

I've known for a while that debit cards and hotels don't really mix, but now I've learned it the hard way.

Last weekend, I stayed at an Embassy Suites in Florida, attending a magazine writers' conference. I had a wonderful, spacious room with all of the amenities, and the service was great, but like many hotels, Embassy Suites immediately put a "hold" on the money for the two nights I was staying. I had deposited a check that day at my bank, but because they were holding most of my funds until the next morning, I went through the late afternoon and evening, oblivious to the fact that I had almost nothing in my bank account -- and yet, plenty of unavailable money.

I discovered what had happened that evening at a restaurant when my debit card was declined. But that's another story entirely, although happily not one that ended with me washing dishes.