As we begin moving into the fall season, many people are starting to plan their winter getaways. A travel scam could ruin your vacation, so keep your eyes open. "Free" vacations that actually take your money, extreme cancellation policies, and accommodations not being available once you arrive are just a few variations on this theme. Here are some tips on being a savvy travel shopper:
Shop smart. Think of travel as you would any other item or service you purchase and follow the same good practices. Seek out reliable providers, read all the fine print, and know exactly what you're getting before you pull out your credit card.
- Pay with plastic. Make purchases with a credit card, not cash or a check. This way, if anything goes wrong, you can dispute the charges with your credit card company.
- Define "free." If someone says you've won a free vacation, be skeptical and find out what you have to do — or pay — in order to claim it.
- Be proactive. Never do business with companies that contact you out of the blue without checking them out thoroughly first.
- Do your research. Before reserving a chartered package, check out the U.S. Department of Transportation's list of approved public chartered flights.
Finally, use common sense! If a travel offer smells fishy, take the time to investigate it and walk away if needed.