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Follow These Tips

Whether reserving a hotel room, buying plane tickets or making other travel arrangements, these tips will help you get a deal that delivers what you've been promised.

  • Plan as far ahead as you can. Special deals on hotel rooms and airline seats often sell out very quickly.
  • Be flexible in your travel plans. Hotels usually offer better rates on days when they expect fewer guests. Once you get a fare quote from an airline, ask if you could save money by leaving a day earlier or later, by taking a different flight on the same day, or using a different airport. Changing planes during your trip is sometimes cheaper than a nonstop flight.
  • Check out the seller. Ask tour operators and travel agents whether they belong to a professional association, then check to see if they are members in good standing. Contact your state or local consumer protection agency and the Better Business Bureau to find their complaint history.
  • Comparison shop. Determine the complete cost of the trip in dollars, including all service charges, taxes, processing fees, etc.
  • Beware of unusually cheap prices and freebies. It could be a scam and you could end up paying more than the cost of a regular package tour.
  • Make sure you understand the terms of the deal.. If you're told that you've won a free vacation, ask if you have to buy something else in order to get it. If the destination is a beach resort, ask the seller how far the hotel is from the beach. Then ask the hotel.
  • Ask about cancellation policies. You may want to look into trip insurance for added protection. There are websites that offer pricing and policy information on plans from different companies and describes the different forms of policies available.
  • Insist on written confirmations. Ask for written proof of reservations and dates.
  • Pay by credit card. It's not unusual to make a deposit or even pay in full for travel services before the trip. A credit card gives you the right to dispute charges for services that were misrepresented or never delivered. If a travel agent or service provider tells you that you can't leave for at least two months, be very cautious-the deadline for disputing a credit card charge is 60 days and most scam artists know this.

In some states, travel sellers have to be registered and insured. Advance payments for travel must be placed in an escrow account until the services are provided. Prizes or "free" gifts may also be regulated. Contact your state or local consumer protection agency to find out about your rights and how to file complaints.

Credit Card Blocking for Travel Reservations

When you check into a hotel or pick up your rental car, and give the clerk your credit card, the clerk will place a “block” on your card. This means that the hotel or rental company estimates the amount of your total charges and electronically tells your credit card company to hold that amount of money on your line of credit. When you check out, and settle your bill with the same credit card, the hold will be removed from your card. However, if you choose to pay the final rental cost with a different credit card, the hold will not be removed from the prior card, and your credit limit will still be reduced by that amount, for up to 15 days. In order to avoid this problem:

  • Pay for the hotel stay or car rental using the same card you gave when you checked in.
  • If you use a different credit card at checkout, ask the clerk to clear the block on the prior card.