Travel Price Guarantees Come Up Short

More and more travel Web sites offer "price guarantees." They tout that if you find a lower price, you'll get a refund.

Consumer Reports ShopSmart just looked at these money-back promises to see just how much protection they really offer.

Many travel sites offer a "best price guarantee," and will "refund you the difference" to match any lower price you can find.

Some sites like Delta will also throw in a travel voucher for up to $100.

Maureen Verre books vacations online for her family of six and says the price guarantee offers make her feel confident she's getting the best price.

"I feel that they're looking out for their customers and trying to give me the best rate," said Verre.

But Consumer Reports Money Editor Greg Daugherty says, "not so fast."

"For instance, to collect on the "price guarantee" with Expedia, you have to file your claim within *24 hours* of booking. With American, it's midnight the same day!" said Daugherty. "So even if the price drops a couple of days later, you're out of luck."

Orbitz give you more time...but will refund money only if another customer "subsequently books the same flight or hotel...on Orbitz at a lower price."

"The travel experts we spoke to told us that because of all the restrictions, relatively few people ever collect a refund," said Daugherty.

But don't be discouraged. Consumer Reports says there are ways to save on travel.

Check out sites like Airfarewatchdog.com and Kayak for the best prices.

Hotwire and Yapta track prices, and alert you if the hotel or fare you want goes down.

A word of warning. Consumer Reports says don't assume a "package deal" is really a deal at all.

First, check out individual prices on flights, hotels, and ground transportation.

It's sometimes cheaper to buy a la carte.


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