I’ve talked a lot about third-party booking sites – they can be a great way to find hotels, check prices, and read reviews. But, whether it’s a discounter like Hotwire or Priceline or an aggregator like Travelocity, you’ll find some small print that is likely to include restrictions you’ll need to know about. I recently received an email from someone who’s elderly mother was shocked by a certain discounters’ policies, and the email writer wanted me to call out the website as deceitful. Unfortunately, it’s a world where the buyer really does need to beware before making a purchase.
Here are just a few things to look out for when booking travel at a third-party site:
- No refunds. Some sites require payment in full at all times – others only on special rates. Regardless, make sure know what the cancellation policy is.
- Room types offered. Sites like Priceline and Hotwire only guarantee a double-occupancy room, and you may only have one bed in the room. If you need to fit more than two in the room, you may want to book two rooms.
- No hotel reward points. Many hotel rewards programs will not award you points if you book your room through a third party. If you are collecting those points, decide if the convenience and discount is worth it.
- Special requests aren’t always honored. If you have special requests for your room, you often cannot make these through third-party sites.
If you do choose to book through a third-party, make sure you check all available coupons and cash back options so you can get the best deal possible.