Third-party travel sites have been around for over a decade. Since the invention of the internet, these sites have served as online travel agents, letting you search for and book your own accommodation and travel deals. As one of the more well-known sites – is Booking.com a scam, or is it safe to use?
Though the hotel industry attempts to compete with these online services, it is difficult for them to keep up due to many perks. They help you get better deals on your travel experience, offer loyalty programs that provide perks, and deliver even steeper discounts the higher up you go.
Booking.com is a third-party site for booking hotels, flights, rental cars, and bundles of all three services, attractions, and airport taxis. Like other third-party sites, it can be daunting to book with this service or trust that you will not be scammed. Here, we will look at what makes the service reputable as well as a list of pros and cons with the service.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that no, Booking.com is not a scam site. It is a legitimate OTA (online travel agent) site, where your travel plans are secured. You can rest assured that your credit card is safe while using Booking.com.
I’ve been using this site to book accommodation all around the world as a digital nomad – from Poland to Mexico to Finland – since 2015. It’s often a lot cheaper than Airbnb and other booking sites, and it offers you discounts and added extras on stays and travel the more often you use it.
Background of Booking.com
Founded in 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com is available in 43 languages. It offers more than 28 million types of accommodations around the world including hotels, apartments, homes, and more.
How does Booking.com work?
Booking.com (and other OTAs like it) charge the company they are working with a fee for each booking made on their site. By having their businesses on these sites, travel businesses like car rental services, airlines, and hotels, get more traction.
As a customer on an OTA site, the process is easy. For the sake of this example, we will examine how to book a hotel.
First, go on the site and choose what service you are looking for. Then search your location and dates. Booking.com will pull up all of the available accommodations that fit your filters.
Once you have a list of the accommodations available, you can choose which one is best for you. You will be asked to either pay at checkout or input your credit card number to hold the room. The room will be charged to that card once you arrive at the hotel.
Some hotels offer a small discount for paying when you book. This is likely to eliminate cancellations and no-shows as much as possible.
When you arrive at the hotel, you check in under the name you booked with on the Booking.com site. Then you pay for the room, and you are on your way! It is an easy process but can be daunting for a first-timer.
Pros and Cons of Booking.com
- Free cancellations on most rooms
- Clear pricing without hidden fees
- The app is user-friendly, and you can use it to book anywhere in the world
- The Booking.com Genius loyalty rewards system offers good discounts, freebies, and perks like a free hotel breakfast on most accommodations
- They have a price match guarantee and great customer service to back this up
- Occasional mix-ups with the hotel. Some customers report the reservation not going through to the hotel or booking.com not allowing them to change their reservation.
- Online reviews are not always honest and can be easily manipulated.
- May not show the entire total in bold print. Be sure to double-check all the fine print and asterisks to be sure you are getting all the information.
- Potential issues with the cancellation policy because it varies from reservation to reservation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get Genius status on Booking.com?
After completing two stays booked with Booking.com within two years, you earn Genius Level 1 status for life. This is a low threshold, but the only benefit for a Genius Level 1 is 10 percent off your booking price.
To obtain Genius Level 2 you must complete five stays within two years. There is no Genius Level past two. Perks of Level 2 include free breakfast at select properties, 10-15 percent off booking prices, and a free room upgrade at select properties.
Is Booking.com more expensive?
Booking.com can be more expensive than what you would find on the hotel’s direct site. However, they do offer a price match guarantee. If you would like to book with Booking but find a lower price elsewhere, you can ask them to match it.
Is free cancellation on Booking.com actually free?
Most of the time, yes. However, there are instances where there may be a cancellation fee. It is all laid out for you in the terms before you confirm your booking, so be careful not to miss any of the fine print if you are worried about cancellations.
Each reservation comes with a cancellation policy that is unique to that booking. The service itself, Booking.com, does not have a blanket cancellation policy. It is crucial to check on the cancellation policy in effect for your booking.
I am booking a trip to the EU and/or the UK. Is Booking.com ATOL certified?
No, Booking.com is not ATOL certified.
This does not mean that it is not a reputable source for booking your trips. If you book your hotel and flight in separate reservations through booking.com, you will not need an ATOL certificate anyways since this only applies to package holidays.
Conclusion – Is Booking.com A Scam Or Legit?
To answer a few key questions: Is Booking.com a scam? No. Is booking.com safe for a credit card? Yes. Is booking.com reliable? Yes.
Although there is always the possibility of a mix-up or data breach in the age of the internet, Booking.com is one of the better third-party sites to use.
With their 25+ years of experience in the industry, Booking.com is a solid option for your next trip. Their wide variety of accommodations and services and top-tier policy transparency for customers are hard to beat.