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Top 11 summer travel tips

CHOICE says don’t start your holiday with hidden fees and travel insurance hassles

9 December 2015

With the holiday season on the horizon, consumer advocacy group CHOICE is warning consumers to be on the lookout for tricky terms and conditions, hidden fees and charges and online checkouts that auto select services that are not right for you.
“Getting duped in an online checkout, having the wrong travel insurance or overpaying for car hire insurance is it not a great way to start your holiday,” says CHOICE Head of Media Tom Godfrey.

Top 11 summer travel tips:

1. Take out travel insurance

You should always take out travel insurance when you book your holiday, but make sure you find a policy that's right for you. Importantly, if you have a pre-existing medical condition that you have sought treatment for discuss it with your insurer so you know where you stand if it flares up & you need to make a claim.

2. Avoid mobile phone bill shock
With Telstra recently upping the cost of its monthly international roaming services, it’s worth shopping around for a better deal. Both Optus and Virgin have better value offers or you could leave your Australian sim card at home and buy a local sim card when you touch down.

3. Take note of the exclusions in your travel insurance
If you're planning to have a few drinks on holiday or go skydiving, be aware that most insurers are unlikely to cover you if something goes wrong. Keep an eye out for tricks in your cover, for example you may be covered for shark cage diving but have to upgrade to do a Segway tour.

4. Select the right payment method for your overseas trip
Depending on the length of your trip and how much money you plan on spending, getting a travel money card might be the best option because you'll know the exchange rates and overseas charges in advance. But if it's just a quick trip and your total spend outside of hotels and air travel will be limited to around $800, a travel money card probably won't be cost-effective.

5. If it’s your best option remember to activate your credit card travel insurance
Although some credit card providers offer consumers travel insurance, it’s important to remember to activate it online or over the phone. If something does go wrong and you didn’t activate it, you might find you’re not covered. It’s also worth remembering to check to see if the insurance product on offer is right for you.

6. Beware auto-selected options in online checkouts
While purchasing a flight online can be an easy option, it’s important to take your time as you make your way through the checkout. With everything from carbon offsets to travel insurance auto selected for you, it pays to deselect the options you don’t want or need.

7. Don’t be pressured into pricey car hire insurance 
Car hire insurance is always a good idea but don't over pay. Some credit cards and travel insurance policies cover you for car hire, so it's worth checking before you’re pressured into a purchase at the car hire counter.

8. Use a credit card when booking through a travel agent
When booking through a travel agent consider paying with a credit card. If in the unlikely event the travel agent went bust, you could be able to seek a charge back through your credit card provider and not be left out of pocket.

9. Take the time to complain 
If your flight is delayed, your hotel room wasn’t as described or you were hit with hidden fees and charges, it pays to take the time to complain and seek a remedy. Under Australian Consumer Law businesses have a responsibility to deliver on what they sold you and they must be transparent about total costs. So exercise your consumer rights when things don’t go to plan.

10. Don’t fall for “drip pricing”
It is illegal for businesses to advertise one price and then drip in unavoidable fees and charges, which means the price you end up paying is well above the advertised price. Whether it’s airfares, concert tickets or accommodation, if you can’t redeem the advertised price it’s worth reporting it to the ACCC.

11. Don’t wait until you arrive at the airport to get foreign currency
We found if you use your credit card to buy a foreign currency from Travelex you'll end up paying a great deal more than you bargained for. Your best bet is to plan ahead and organise a competitive rate through you bank.

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