What are OBC's and what can you use them on? Is it better to book with an early saver rate and hope that the price goes down. What happens when prices go down? Would I then call my travel agent and will I get OBC's for my cruise even if this is my first cruise ever?
OBC - On Board Credit. When you get on board you get assigned basically a charge account (backed with your credit card) that you charge everything you buy on board to. You room key is also your charge card...called your sign and sail card. OBCs are just credits that show up on this account. So they just reduce your balance at the end of the cruise. Unless they state otherwise an OBC can be applied to anything but cash advances in the casino (I think) but if you don't spend the entire OBC they don't refund the extra. But unless you get a huge OBC they normally don't amount to more than your auto tips and or you bar tab.
I've been doing the Early Saver since they came out with it. It offers the greatest price protection. Now, the deposit is non-refundable, but you can change your cruise for a $50pp admin fee and they will keep your deposit on file for a length of time should you not be able to go.
There are two types of OBC's, refundable and non-refundable. Jim is correct (sound familiar ) in that the Early Saver OBC's are non-refundable. Meaning use it or lose it. In a case where they are are refundable and you don't use it all they will cut you a check back for whats left.
If you book using the Early Saver rate and the price goes down contact your travel agent. If you are outside of penalty and have not paid in full the difference will be a price reduction. If you are inside of penalty and fully paid then the difference will be given in OBC's.
I "think" you can use them for anything. I don't know about the casino though as I don't use my S&S account for the casino. I keep my gambling funds separate. I learned that the hard way.
And like I said, I am not 100% sure on the casino part either. I have pulled money from the S&S to play video poker (since there is no 3% fee fro adding money on a slot or video poker machine) but the other charges on my S&S account more than used up my OBC amounts anyway. BUT the casino is operated independently from the ship so I don't think you can use it for casino cash (unless maybe if it the fully refundable kind of OBC).
Don't worry about it. Like I said, its rare that you would pull in enough in OBCs to fully cover a S&S bill.