Consumer Reports Investigation: Travel Site "Gotchas"

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Some of us are pretty good at comparison-shopping for great travel deals online, but a Consumer Reports investigation reveals you can easily get sucked into paying more than you have to if you're not careful.

Consumer Reports Shopsmart searched for the same itinerary at the same time on the Expedia travel site using two different browsers: Safari and Firefox. It turns out the flight was $718 lower using the Firefox browser. And, that price could go up if you search multiple times.

“Travel sites can track your searches. We checked a flight twice on Safari and once on Firefox, and what we learned is that if you check a flight more than once, the cheapest fare can disappear,” says Lisa Lee Freeman with Consumer Reports.

Expedia insists pricing is not affected by previous searches, but Shopsmart suggests removing "cookies" that track those searches. To remove cookies, go to your browser and pick "preferences" and then "privacy." There you can remove all cookies.

Another travel-site pitfall according to Consumer Reports is renting a car or hotel room offered in a "package" deal may end up costing you more than booking with a hotel or car rental site directly. That's another reason to double check the rates you're getting.

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