How To Plan Future Travel Without Risking Your Deposits

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The way we travel has changed significantly since the coronavirus became a full-blown pandemic. While travel has begun to open back up again, there are still restrictions and protocols that mean planning ahead is more necessary than before. President Joe Biden has mandated wearing protective face coverings on planes and other forms of transportation, and some states and countries require proof of negative COVID-19 test results before you can wander your destination.

Read: COVID-19 Money Habits To Stick With in 2021

Soon, as more vaccines become available, proof of vaccination could also be a consideration in travel. Two vaccines have already been FDA approved and are slowly rolling out (Pfizer’s and Moderna’s, both of which require two shots, three and four weeks apart, respectively), but are mostly available only to adults 65 and older and healthcare workers at this time. While Johnson & Johnson just applied for emergency FDA approval for their one-shot vaccine and are hoping to start production soon, the rollout continues to be slower than needed to control the virus for a variety of reasons.

Make Your Money Work for You

Since rules and restrictions change with surges in the virus and ICU capacity, how can you make travel plans for the future without risking deposits you put down on transportation and hotels? Here is some key info to know to stay flexible and not lose money.

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Work With a Travel Agent

Perhaps the smartest step you can take to protect your deposits and ensure a great travel experience in the COVID-19 era is to work with a travel agent, a person who knows the industry better than you ever will and has to keep on top of rules and regulation changes. Plus, you’ll help keep an industry that is in jeopardy alive.

Get Travel Insurance

If the uncertainty of factors such as when you can get a COVID-19 vaccine or test results in time to make your reservations has you nervous, consider purchasing travel insurance. But be aware that not all travel insurance truly covers everything. To get the most protection, you’ll need “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) insurance, which of course will cost more. But in a time when there are a lot of unknowns, the cost may be worth it to keep you from losing even more later.

Make Your Money Work for You

More: Why You Should Start Budgeting Now for 2022

Pay With Points

Another way to protect your cash is to use travel points you’ve earned (or start using a card that earns you travel points now) instead of cash. Points, according to The New York Times, are harder to lose, and more likely to be credited back if you have to cancel.

Pay by Credit Card

Similarly, paying with a credit card also offers a layer of financial protection versus paying with a debit card or cash. If there is some kind of issue, such as the travel company or hotel you booked going out of business or shutting down at the last minute, you’ll have a better shot at refuting charges with your credit card company.

Read: COVID-19 Totally Changed How We Spend Our Money

Investigate Refund Policies Closely

Every airline, hotel, resort and entertainment venue will have different policies for deposit refunds, so read the fine print and ask the right questions. Airlines like American Airlines have made accommodations to its refund policies. It is waiving change fees on some existing tickets for travel through March 31, 2021. This applies to Basic Economy fares and AAdvantage® award tickets. Hyatt hotels extended a generous cancellation policy through July 31, 2021. With some limited exceptions, reservations can be canceled at no charge up to 24 hours before scheduled arrival. While many cruise lines have canceled cruises, American Cruise Lines has extended consumers’ ability to cancel for any reason up to 24 hours prior to the start of their cruise package, receiving cruise vouchers equal to 100% of the amount paid for any 2021 cruise package.

Make Your Money Work for You

Wherever you’re going, be sure you know the policies so you have the maximum amount of time to cancel if need be.

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Last updated: Feb. 8, 2021