wdwdolphinI’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. 

Jodi Grundig, Finance Traveling Mom, regularly writes about her travels on Family Travel Magazine and Mom’s Favorite Stuff.