Travel Site Gotchas

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When Hindi Golden and her family travel, she carefully searches the web for a good deal. But what if she found out a travel site wasn't actually giving her the lowest price?

Hindi says, "I would be annoyed. I would be. I probably wouldn't use that site again."

"Believe it or not, just using a different browser can get you a dramatically lower travel deal."

Consumer Reports ShopSmart learned this when it searched for the same itinerary at the same time on the Expedia travel site using two different browsers - Safari and Firefox. Turns out the flight was $718 lower using the Firefox browser.

Lisa Lee Freeman explains, "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."

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

Lisa adds, "Another frustrating thing is you find a great rate, but when you click through to book it, the price jumps up."

For instance - a flight to Tokyo on Orbitz went up $29 when ShopSmart tried to book it. And a hotel room on Travelocity jumped up $110.

So while travel comparison sites offer great convenience, shopping smart means double-checking before you click to purchase.

Another travel-site pitfall Consumer Reports ShopSmart found - the car rental 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 rates you're getting.

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