Scams that target consumers booking travel online has been drastically increasing according to AAA Travel Experts. While booking travel online offers the ability to compare prices and read online reviews. It is estimated that hotel booking scams cost U.S. consumers $220 million a year.
Using a third-party booking site comes with a decent amount of risk.When you are looking for your next trip online, keep your eye out for ads for super-low pricing on hotels and car rentals, and to-die-for pricing on a cruise or tour. It’s possible that the highly discounted rates are valid.
Also, if you book through a third-party site and need to cancel or change your trip, you’ll likely run into a lot more difficulty. Often, the site will refer you to the airline or hotel to request a refund. And if a refund is provided, it might not be for the full amount.
As a trusted travel resource, AAA Travel experts offer these five tips to avoid travel scams and get the most out of your next trip:
1. Research companies: Book with reputable companies whose names you recognize. Even then, search their name along with “scam” and “review.” If you see a lot of negative reviews for a company, proceed with caution.
2. Use credit cards: Always pay with a credit card. With debit cards, the money immediately is removed from your bank account, which can make getting it back more difficult. Plus, it’s easier to dispute the charges by using a credit card.
3. Read carefully: Combing through the fine print of travel documents can be tedious, which is why many consumers fail to do this. Even if the site says something like “satisfaction guaranteed,” still read the fine print before booking and understand the cancelation and revision policies. This could help prevent inconveniences, such as being charged a higher room rate when you arrive.
4. Verify reservations: For hotels and flights you booked through a third-party site, call the hotel or airline directly to make sure that the reservations are correct and ask the company to notify you of changes. Again, use a credit card to book travel, as it offers you more protection.
5. Use an agent: AAA Travel experts recommend working with a trusted travel agent, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the area. Agents are founts of knowledge, keep you informed of changes, and have your back when necessary.