This is the first of two columns reviewing vacation travel trips from the Federal Trade Commission’s publication, “Travel Tips” (www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0046-travel-tips).
The agency recommends that consumers wanting to use a travel firm start with recommendations from people they trust.
Verify the reputation of travel firms and the details of proposed trips, including the quality of proposed resorts or cruises. Make sure a below-average vacation accommodation is not being advertised as “five-star” or “luxury.”
Understand the cancellation and refund policies before paying for a trip.
The FTC suggests consumers check out information on travel insurance available from the U.S. Travel Insurance Association (www.ustia.org).
Since consumers may be able to dispute credit card charges, it is usually better to pay for travel by credit card. The FTC adds: “However, don’t give your account number to any business until you’ve verified its reputation.”
When arranging accommodations understand the total charges involved, not just per night stay costs. Some hotels may charge “resort fees,” adding costs for things such as fitness facilities or internet access, sometimes even when services are not used.
If you are being offered a “free trial” membership in a travel club, make sure you know what you’ll get for your money and how you can cancel. You may not want continuing charges on your credit card after the free trial period ends.