6 Steps To Stop You Getting Scammed When Booking Your Holiday

Booking that dream holiday is exciting, especially if you have been saving up for a long time.

Yet some holidaymakers continue to fall for the same pitfalls by holiday companies and airlines that increase the overall costs of their holidays and in some cases cause them to lose their money.

We want to provide you with the right tactics needed to reduce your overall costs so that you do not fall victim to the same consumer traps.

1) Do your market research. Get on those comparison sites and find out the best deal for you. For those looking for a bargain: Fly4free, Flightor, Kayak and Skyscanner websites have the cheapest deals above going. Find the deal on these websites and then go direct to the travel companies to book the same holiday – you will save even more money.

2) Always book directly with the company. If you do not book directly with the airline or hotel you are risking an additional 30% increase in your transport and living expenses. Some resorts will openly promote a direct booking discount on their website, so make sure you check!

3) When booking online always use an incognito search browser and delete your browser history/cookies. Websites can identify when you have visited their website through your IP address; and can increase the price if you have clicked on a specific destination/hotel several times. Keep yourself hidden!

4) Make sure your package holiday is ATOL protected. There are cases of people booking holidays with fraudulent companies and losing thier money. To prevent this from happening make sure your holiday is ATOL protected, this will ensure you don’t lose money or become stranded if the holiday business collapses.

To find out whether your holiday company is a signatory to ATOL then click here.

5) Check the reviews for your booking. An easy way to see whether a holiday company is legitimate and provides a good service is by looking at their consumer reviews. Make sure the company has a large number of reviews on a legitimate reviews website. Make sure they have a high rating and also check the quality of the reviews – some could be fake.

The best places to look for company reviews are TrustPilot and Tripadvisor.

6) Reduce your costs by going on free tours at your destination. On sites such as Tripadvisor you will find tours that are free and have excellent reviews. Consider going on these as you are not obliged to pay for the tour – although you will be asked at the end. Eitherway it will likely be cheaper than other similar tours and prevent you from pre-booking a tour with a fraudulent company in a different country.

Make sure you use these tips when booking your next holiday and they will help you save and protect your money!

7 Tips On How To Improve Your Credit Score

Your credit score can be a hard thing to understand.

With three different credit reference agencies in the UK each with their own credit rating on you, its hard to know what can actually impact your credit rating.

The following steps whilst not exhaustative, will help make sure you have a better chance of securing that mortgage or bank loan.

1) Contact each credit reference agency (Experian, Equifax and Callcredit) and establish what your scores are and make sure they have you on record. If they don’t, then you won’t be getting that mortgage application approved.

2) Use credit score applications such as Clearscore, Experian and Noddle to monitor your score. The best credit score application that provides you with the most advice is Clearscore – make sure to check out their tutorials!

3) Get a credit card – One of the best ways to increase your score is to open a credit card and ensure you pay back your spending every month. Having that card and making timely repayments will demonstrate to lenders you payback on time. Increasing your credit card limit also can have a positive impact – ask the credit card company when you will be able to increase yours

4) Be the billpayer – If you have your name attached to energy, telecoms and council tax bills you are further demonstrating to lenders you are able to make repayments and this will be on your record.

5) Register where you live with your local council. Council records are used by credit reference agencies. If you have not registered with your local council, then there will be a gap on your record which could go against you. Check your local councils website on how to register to vote and make an application.

6) Switching services can have a short term impact on your credit rating. If you are switching bank account or telecoms providers there may be a ‘hard search’ against your credit file – these tend to last for a maximum of six months on your file. Always check the small print or ask the service you intend to switch to, as to whether they will perform a soft or hard search on your file.

7) Always make sure when applying for credit that you will be approved. When applying for any credit make sure there is a good chance you will be approved. An application failure can have a significant negative impact on your score and prevent you from applying for credit for a year. Some credit agency applications have probability scores (Example – 80% successful) to help determine whether you will be granted credit for different products – look at these and make a decision based on your situation.

The world of credit scores is complex.

However with the steps above you can begin to take control and monitor your credit score; whilst improving your chances of future credit success.

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Airline Flight Delays? Here Are 9 Ways To Claim Your Compensation

I had the recent experience of being delayed at London Luton Airport for nine hours prior to boarding my flight.

Whilst I did feel like Tom Hanks in the film The Terminal, I did spend some of my time finding out how to make a claim.

Here are some steps I followed to ensure I got my compensation:

1) Speak to the airline staff and other passengers in the airport. Find out what is going on. The flight board in the airport isn’t always up to date and by asking some simple questions you might be able to find out the actual cause of the delay, which will help with your claim.

2) Ask for information on your passenger rights and get a food/drinks voucher from the airline. The airline should provide you with information on your rights (information sheet) when they know the flight will be delayed for more then 3 hours. In addition they should offer you a food/drink voucher to spend at the airport – usually £6 or €7. Airport cafes/restaurants are usually expensive so dont expect the voucher to pay for an entire meal.

3) Ensure you go through security at the right time. Some airports will only allow you to go through security three hours before take off. If your boarding pass won’t let you through, speak to security staff and also check with airline staff as to when you can go through to ensure you don’t miss your flight.

Now that you have landed at your destination and have some spare time…

4) Make the claim. Go to your airline website and make the claim listing the details of your flight. Keep all relevant documents (paper and digital) with you in an easily accessible place so that you can reference them when making the claim. Also keep the email from the airline when they automatically acknowledge your complaint – this will be vital for making a claim if they fail to pay up.

5) If the airline fails to pay within one month, then remind them via their online complaints process about your original complaint citing the reference number. Also keep a record of this complaint and the automatic acknowledgement email for your claim.

6) Airline offers to pay you but only in airline vouchers – be careful with this offer. For instance you might be entitled to €250 cash but an airline might offer you €350 in airline vouchers. If you choose airline vouchers look carefully at the terms and conditions of the vouchers, as in some cases they have clauses that state they can revoke your vouchers. My advice is to take the cash offer, whilst lower in value it allows you to spend it flexibly with no risk of it disappearing.

7) If the airline fails to pay within 2 months, then you must refer your claim. If you are based in the UK, you must go to the Aviation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Your airline will be a signatory to this scheme and will be obliged to comply with their requests – There are other adjudication schemes in EU member states.

8) Bundle your claim documents and submit to Aviation ADR – you will be allocated a caseworker who will speak to the relevant member of staff in the airline to resolve. Usually at this stage if you have a legitimate claim it should now be resolved as airlines are contractually obliged to comply with a decision made by Aviation ADR

9) If that fails you may have to go to a small claims court. If you have a legimitimate compensation claim that has been supported by the Aviation ADR and the airline hasn’t listened, then you will need to go here. The likelihood of reaching this stage however is rare.

Whilst the vast majority of legitimate compensation payments will be made prior to any involvement from mediators such as Aviation ADR, its important to know how to escalate your claim should the airline ignore your request.

If you follow these tips you will hopefully get that compensation you deserve more quickly and have a little bit more spending money.

I spent my compensation on a new winter wardrobe!

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8 Ways To Challenge Your Letting Agent or Landlord

Greedy letting agents and landlords know their industry and will try every trick in the book to make you pay more during your tenancy.

As a former private rented sector tenant myself I have faced financial claims made against me that have been false or have been exaggerated by letting agents.

I want you to learn the following steps to ensure you can better protect yourself from losing your deposit at the end of your tenancy.

1) Check your tenancy agreement Keep a paper and digital record. Look out for any clause that mentions ‘cost’ or ‘money’- that could lead to additional charges. Identify the charges and prevent them from happening. Some charges could be deemed unreasonable and you may wish to raise this at a deposit protection tribunal.

2) Document control – Keep all documents in a safe and easily accessible place for future usage. This will help support you should any claim be made against you at the end of your tenancy.

3) Return your inventory as soon as possible. I always advise you go through your inventory with a fine toothcomb in the first week of moving in. Items on the inventory may be listed in the wrong condition or there may be things listed that are not in the property. Go through this thoroughly and email your letting agent with any alterations as soon as you can.

4) If you see a problem then report it! If you do not report an issue and it is identified during an inspection you could be penalised. If you cannot be expected to reasonably fix it – then report it!

5) Know how to complain! If you are unhappy with the service provided by your letting agent then complain to them. Some letting agents do not list their complaints procedure in an easily accessible place – this is to reduce escalation to the Housing Ombudsman. Email your letting agent and ask for their complaints procedure and go through it.

6) Know how to work the complaints process. If you feel that your letting agent has not dealt with your complaint, then escalate to the Housing Ombudsman who will assess whether you are entitled to compensation following your complaint.

7) Always challenge claims made against your deposit at the end of your tenancy. Try to resolve this with the letting agent directly via email. If this doesn’t work then go to your registered deposit adjudication scheme and state why their claims are wrong. Keep a written record of all communication with your letting agent.

8) Keep an eye out for cleanliness charges which are commonly made by letting agents. Make sure your tenancy agreement does not contain a professional cleaning clause. If it doesn’t, make sure your property is the same cleanliness standard as you moved in – check your Check In Inventory!

Stick to these rules and you should stop/reduce the amount of money you may lose at the end of your tenancy.

7 Methods To Reduce Your Broadband/Phone Costs

I have seen time and time again people who have failed to negotiate with their providers and continue to see increases in their telecoms bills.

Here are some tips on how to reduce your costs:

1) Remember your contract start and end date – place a reminder in a calendar two months prior to contract end date to look at the current marlet.

2) Keep an eye out for early cancellation fees. Some companies require 30 days for cancellation. Make sure you take this into account when switching provider – otherwise you could be penalised.

3) Negotiate with your current provider. Look at what they are offering new customers as these deals will likely be better then what you currently have.

4) Do market research on other suppliers and keep a record of this. Use this research to see whether your current provider can do better.

5) Speak to your provider via a live online chat. This will ensure you reduce any phone costs and you will have a written record of any response made by the company to refer back to.

6) Threaten that you will leave. If your current provider cannot provide a better deal then check their cancellation policy and make that switch. Let the new company manage the switch.

7) Check that your current provider don’t need your internet router back. Confirm with your supplier that they do/don’t want your router back – you may incur a charge if you fail to return within a specific timeframe.

Stick to these tips and you will reduce your monthly telecoms costs. Keep a record of your contract start and end dates and set a reminder on when to do market research and negotiate with your supplier.

Reducing your costs will mean you can save/spend more money on yourself!