July 24, 2024

What NOT to Do When Booking Travel Reservations Online

What NOT to Do When Booking Travel Reservations Online
An upset woman at the airport sitting near a window next to her suitcase.

Image source: Getty Images

When booking travel online, take proper precautions so you don’t set yourself up for failure.


Key points

  • Making travel reservations online is a convenient way to plan a trip.
  • When making online travel bookings, don’t book with an unknown brand or use a debit card to pay.
  • Make sure to review the booking terms for greater success.

Thanks to technology, booking travel reservations online is easy to do. There’s no longer any need to hire a travel agent or wait on hold to make a reservation by phone. But it’s essential to take proper care when booking reservations. Otherwise, you could make costly mistakes and may be disappointed. Keep reading to find out what not to do when booking travel plans online.

1. Don’t make reservations with an unknown brand

Recently, my brother called me in the middle of the work day. This is unlike him, so I knew something was up. It turns out he had made an expensive airline booking through a questionable travel booking website and wanted help figuring out how to fix his mistake.

I had never heard of the company before, but its website didn’t give me hope. Luckily, we ended up being able to cancel the reservation and get his money refunded because the website allowed for cancellations to be made within 24 hours of booking. But that’s not always the case when using third-party travel booking websites — so he was lucky.

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If you’re making a hotel or airline booking, ensure you’re doing so through a reputable, trusted website. You should avoid the website if you’ve never heard of it. If at all possible, it’s best to book directly with the hotel or airline. If not, use legitimate third-party booking websites.

When you use a non-reputable travel booking site, you could have trouble revising or canceling your plans. It could also be challenging to get customer service help if something goes wrong on the day of travel. If the booking website looks sketchy or the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Keep this in mind the next time you need to make travel plans.

2. Don’t pay with a debit card

Here’s another thing that my brother did that I wouldn’t recommend: He paid for his booking with a debit card. By doing this, he put the money in his checking account in limbo while awaiting a refund. It also could have been stressful if the company hadn’t offered him a refund.

Using a credit card is your best bet when you book travel online. You won’t put your cash at risk, and if something goes wrong, you’ll be better protected with a credit card. Plus, you can earn valuable rewards if you book using travel rewards credit cards. I only use credit cards when making travel reservations and suggest that others do the same.

3. Don’t skip reviewing the booking terms

Another bad move is not reviewing the booking terms. You want to make sure you know if you’ll be able to make changes or if you can cancel without penalty. Some bookings may be refundable up to a specific time before your travel date, but not all are.

Not reviewing these important details before booking could have consequences. If your plans change and you need to cancel your flight but have a non-refundable ticket, you may be ineligible for a refund or credit. That would be an expensive mistake to make and it could mean that you don’t have enough money left in your vacation budget to afford a trip.

Set yourself up for success when booking online travel

Booking online travel reservations can be a good move. Just make sure you use a reputable website, pay with a credit card instead of a debit card, and review the booking terms before making a reservation. It’s also a good idea to review all booking details to avoid errors.

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