Better Business

Robb Hicken: How to conserve your cash on vacation

Chief storyteller for the Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River RegionApril 16, 2014 

Robb Hicken.JPG

Robb Hicken

STATESMAN FILE

Jack Thompson, of Boise, thought he'd done everything right when he booked his vacation, including taking out an insurance policy for the cruise he and his wife were going to take.

He never considered that he'd really have to use the insurance policy, but for the several thousands of dollars he was investing in his vacation package, he thought it would be a benefit to have in place.

Only days before his vacation was to begin, a family emergency caused him to cancel the trip and seek a refund on it. Without the policy in place, he would have lost the entire investment.

Knowing before you go is essential. Here are 5 things you can look out for while on vacation.

Practicing unsafe plastic

Thousands of dollars can be stolen from your account instantaneously, but it is more likely that money will be siphoned away in tiny amounts.

The scammers count on you not checking your card balance, and missing that dollar charge for a merchant you've never heard of is an easy way to skim your summer fun away.

Prevent credit card hackers by using "chip and pin" technology, which requires a cardholder to enter a PIN or sign for each transaction made. If your card lacks such security, it runs the risk of being scanned, swiped and cloned by fraudsters. So before you travel, go to your bank and ask for a safer chip and PIN card. Technology allows you to review your purchase almost instantly.

And be sure to thoroughly review your account statement once a month.

Death by a thousand fees

Once again, it's the few dollars here and there that really fool you.

You've seen them - a $2 delivery fee at your hotel for a newspaper you never requested, a $5 candy bar from a minibar, a $20 fee to check your luggage.

Each is small when alone, but added up, it's your vacation. Avoid hidden fees by asking whether the price you are paying upfront includes everything.

"Conveniences" that aren't there for you

The phrase "for your convenience" is most likely anything but that, and may carry a price tag. Be wary of convenience offers. Check your credit card statements and verify businesses haven't attached extra "convenience" charges to your bill.

Advice you shouldn't take

Before you trust the recommendations from a brochure, concierge or blogger, consider the motive. Many are affiliated with specific businesses and recommend those businesses' services over others.

Beware of tainted experts. Your friends, whom you trust, can sometimes offer the best advice. If you do follow "expert" reviews, be sure to double-check them and make sure they have no ulterior motives.

A fake invitation to return

Some travel companies target the sentimental side of a vacation. You had a great time, so why not consider a vacation deal for next year?

Never buy one of these offers while you're still on vacation. They are almost always questionable. Travel offers from cards and brochures sometimes leave the vacationer with a "power" presentation to strong-arm you into purchases you would not otherwise consider.

rhicken@boise.bbb.org, 947-2115

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