We’ve all heard the adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” That statement applies to booking travel, too.
While booking travel online offers the ability to compare prices and read online reviews, AAA Travel experts note that scams that target consumers booking travel online have been increasing. The American Hotel and Lodging Association estimates hotel booking scams cost U.S. consumers more than $220 million a year.
When you are researching 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 rock-bottom rates are valid, but using a third-party booking site comes with a fair amount of risk.
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 red tape. 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. Try looking them up on the Better Business Bureau’s website.
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.
When you use AAA.com to book your air, car, or hotel rentals, you can travel with the confidence of the largest leisure travel agency in the United States.
For more travel expertise, visit highroads.az.aaa.com.
5 tips to avoid a travel scam from AAA Arizona – ABC15 Arizona