Think Twice Before Using a Third Party Booking Site



Columbus, OH When searching online for travel plans, certain deals or ads may steer you toward using a third party booking site. BBB reminds travelers to carefully consider all the available options before using a third party booking site, especially when going through an official airline, hotel or rental car site may not actually be that much more expensive.

Third party sites may use fancy images and advertise great rates, but are you truly getting the best deal? Like any business transaction, it helps to be an informed consumer.

Before planning your dream getaway, BBB recommends doing your research and considering the following tips:

  • Search online. If you are trying an online merchant you are unfamiliar with, make sure they have direct contact information, including a physical location, available on their website. Look for their Business Profile at bbb.org to find complaints and customer reviews.

  • Guard Your Personal Information. Only provide your credit card information online in a secure environment. Look for the prefix “https” in the web address. The “s” means the site is secure.

  • It never hurts to ask. Based on supply and demand, a hotel may be prepared to offer a rate lower than their published price if rooms are empty. They may also provide a better room than those reserved on third party sites. Check with the hotel before booking to be certain you are getting the best deal.

  • Inquire about extra charges. Third party sites may advertise a price that excludes other fees, such as Wi-Fi or breakfast. You might think you are getting a lower price, but will be in for a surprise when you see your actual bill.

  • Look into loyalty programs. Some airlines or hotels may have perks that will give you a free night or a special deal.

  • Always confirm. If you choose to use a third party booking site, call and verify your stay with the hotel or airline.

  • Make sure you can cancel. Emergencies or a change of plans can happen. Some third party booking sites have an “all sales are final” policy and may not let you cancel after booking a hotel through them.

  • Be aware of who you are dealing with. If you have booked a room or a flight through a third party booking site and something goes wrong, you will have to take it up with that third party site. It may not be the actual hotel or airline’s fault since you chose not to book through them.

  • Know your consumer rights. The same laws that protect you when you shop by phone or mail apply when you shop in cyberspace. If you decide to pay by credit card or charge card, your transaction will be protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act.

For more travel tips, consumers can visit BBB’s Travel Help Center. If you encounter a scam while planning a trip, report the scam to help others at BBB Scam Tracker.

For more information, follow your BBB on Facebook, Twitter, and at bbb.org.

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