Holidays abroad get the green light today as the Government says we can now visit a whole host of countries around the world. Since March it’s been advising against ‘all but essential’ international travel but it’s now published a list of countries that are exempt from this.
But our desperate dash to book a holiday could mean rich pickings for fraudsters, with a warning this week from the finance industry to be on our guard against booking scams.
Here’s how to protect your trip so you’re not out of pocket.
Check company credentials
Book a package holiday that includes a flight and you get ATOL protection.
This is a financial protection scheme backed the Civil Aviation Authority and pays out if your holiday company goes bust.
Companies offering ATOL protection should flag this up; but don’t just take their word for it. Always double check it stacks up. You can do this by checking the details on the Civil Aviation Authority website.
With cruise, coach or rail trips, check for ABTA protection. This covers UK travel agents and tour operators. Some companies do claim to be ABTA members when they’re not, so always check the company you book with is a genuine ABTA member by doing a search on the ABTA website.
Never ever pay by bank transfer
When it comes to booking villas and apartments, lots of us get caught out when we’re persuaded to pay by bank transfer.
It’s nothing short of handing a wad of cash to a complete stranger and offers zero protection so don’t do it; however convincing and plausible the reason or excuse you’re given.
Companies like Airbnb have secure payment methods which offer protection if things go wrong.
Pay by credit card
Credit cards are a great bit of kit as they come with built in legal protection.
This comes under ‘Section 75’ of the Consumer Credit Act, and paying by credit card makes both the supplier and your card company ‘jointly liable’.
So if there’s a problem with your trip, say the flight company disappear into the sunset; you can tap up your credit card company for a refund.
Couple of important things to know first. This protection only applies if what you’re buying costs between £100 and £30,000. But you don’t have to put the whole lot on your credit card; even just a small deposit, (can be less than £100), does the trick.
And you must buy ‘direct’ for this protection to kick in. So buying flights on an airline website is ok, but if you book through a third party, like a travel agent, you lose this protection.
Debit cards also offer protection; though rules aren’t laid down in law, like ‘section 75’. But if you have a problem, speak to your bank or card company and and ask them to ‘reverse’ the transaction by doing a ‘chargeback’.
Clever trick to bag ‘ATOL’ protection
Booking a ‘package’ deal, as I mentioned earlier, means extra protection on your holiday.
If the holiday company goes bust you get your money back, or can continue your holiday, or get flown home, if this happens while you’re away.
But there’s no need to buy an ‘off the peg’ package to bag this protection. Thanks to the ‘Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations’; more trips now count as ‘packages’.
A ‘package’ counts as a flight, plus at least one other bit of your trip, that’s booked and paid for, (in one single payment), with the same company.
So you can turn a ‘flight only’ deal into ATOL protection simply by adding in a one night hotel stay.