When you are planning your vacation and want to stay in the perfect vacation rental you will likely be asked to put down a payment securing your reservation, or be asked to pay a security deposit in advance.
This can seem like a bad idea in a world where identity thieves run rampant and no online payment site seems secure, but there are smart ways to pay for vacation rentals without having to worry. Here are a few tips for keeping your finances safe while still being able to pay for your perfect vacation rental.
If you have found a vacation rental property you would like to rent a bit of research to make sure it is legitimate. Call the numbers on the website or listing; if no one picks up on the other end even if you have tried multiple times, it might not be a good place to send your money. Generally properties where the owner or real estate agent is communicating with you, the information about the vacation rental is accurate and up to date, and the process of renting the property is spelled out clearly, you probably do not have to worry about making payments safely.
Another way to tell if a property is legitimate is by looking at the reviews online from a variety of sources. If there are not any reviews, take that as a warning. Make sure the property you are looking at has been visited by tourists before and is highly highly recommended.
Credit cards are a widely accepted form of payment for vacation rentals and can be used to make reservations or put down a security deposit online. Credit cards are a reliably safe way to make payments as companies can be verified for authenticity and you have the ability to call your credit card company and reverse a payment something something go wrong during the process.
An increasingly common way to pay for vacation rental properties protects the client and the owner by placing the deposit and other fees into a neutral account which holds the payment until you have arrived at the property and made sure everything is to your liking. This is typically called a 'trust but verify' payment, which keeps the owner or real estate agent honest about the property they have for a vacation rental and keeps the money you are putting down to rent the property safe until you have a chance to explore it.
When in doubt, purchase trip insurance. You may have to tweak the terms and conditions to cover any accommodation problems you might have, but getting travel insurance can save you from a world of trouble should anything go wrong on your vacation.
Finally, stay away from wires and direct money transfers unless you know the person you are sending your money to. Once you use this method your money is gone, and if you have chosen the wrong vacation rental owner to trust you might find yourself without a lot of money and no vacation rental.