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Top five holiday-booking tips

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If you’re about to buy your summer holiday, make sure you follow these five vital tips to make sure you get the best deal with full financial protection.

Couple sitting on deckchairs on the beach

TV adverts at the moment are full of sun-drenched beaches and long-haul adventures so if you're looking to book your summer holiday here's five ways to make sure you have a financially successful trip.

1. Protect your holiday

If you’re looking to book a flight-based holiday check the company you’re booking with is ATOL protected and for land- or sea-based deals look for ABTA registration.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking because you spot a logo on the website you’re automatically covered.

Check the company is still a valid member at the Civil Aviation Authority website for ATOL members and abta.com for ABTA.

These accreditations mean you’ll get your money back if the travel company goes bust before you leave, or have the cost of getting you home covered if this happens while you’re away.

2. Book smarter

If you’ve ever compared holiday prices online you’ll know the cost of the same trip can go up and down over the course of a week on the same website.

"Research shows Tuesday is the best day of the week to book for the best price," says Oonagh Shiel, travel expert at Cheapflights.co.uk.

But if you’ve done lots of research online checking prices with different companies this could affect the amount you pay too.

"Repeated price checking on the same website is known as distressed purchasing, which means the company recognises you’re serious about booking," says Shiel.

This means you may not get the best price.

Shiel suggests clearing the cookies on your device before booking or doing online research on another device such as your mobile before booking the trip on your laptop, say.

3. Pay by credit card

Credit card with a beach background

It can cost more paying by credit rather than debit card but it can mean automatic legal protection if things go wrong.

Under consumer law if you pay for something that costs over £100 on your credit card, even if you’re just putting down a deposit, both your credit card company and the supplier are jointly liable if things go wrong.

This means you can ask your card company to stump up if the holiday company goes bust or there’s a problem with the trip. 

"Charges for credit-card payment can be up to around 3%," says Shiel.

Paying by debit card offers limited protection under the Visa and Mastercard chargeback scheme, but this is a voluntary agreement with no legal foundation.

4. Book and insure

Take out travel insurance when booking your trip, not the night before you go. 

You don’t have to buy cover from the company you book with: it is a good idea to shop around.

But taking out insurance soon after booking gives you instant and ongoing cancellation cover in the run-up to your trip if you or anyone covered on the policy fall ill and are unable to go. 

"If you’re going as a family and one of your children breaks their leg a week before the trip, this can cause huge problems if you’re not protected," says Shiel.

5. Check the exchange rate

Even if you find a trip at the price you want, factor in how much you’ll spend once you’re there to avoid a financial holiday hangover.

Europe is a cheaper bet this summer as sterling is up by around 7% against the euro compared with last year, which means you’ll get over £30 more for every £500.

And the Algarve is Europe’s cheapest beach resort according to the Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer with the costs of meals and drinks over a third less than in 2009.

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