The COVID-19 pandemic has been a disaster for the travel industry with millions of people’s holiday plans cancelled as travel restrictions were introduced and airports shut down. Even when some travel restrictions were lifted, the government advised against travel hotspots such as Spain and France.
Today, local restrictions continue to disrupt travel plans. Millions of people nationwide have had their holidays cancelled and lost their money. So, can you reclaim your money back and what are your rights?
Current Holiday Refund Rights
Millions of people have had their holidays cancelled and are now seeking information on their holiday refund rights. Travel providers have offered vouchers as an alternative to a cash refund, but you should think carefully before accepting these. You may find yourself unable to claim a cash refund if you have already taken vouchers.
Your travel provider is the first point of contact to get your money back, but there are other options such as your credit card provider or travel insurer.
My Holiday Was Cancelled
If your holiday was cancelled, you should first speak to your holiday provider and request a refund. Your holiday provider may include the hotel, airline or travel agent you booked with. Check with them first whether you’re entitled to a refund.
If you booked a package holiday with a provider that has now gone out of business, you must contact the industry associations ATOL or ABTA. In most cases, your holiday package is protected under these industry schemes.
If you have no luck with your travel provider, you can contact your debit or credit card provider.
Claiming a Refund with Your Card Provider
If your holiday was cancelled, you might be able to claim for a cash refund via the debit or credit card provider you used to make the purchase.
You can open a claim with your provider by contacting them and they will inform you whether you’re entitled to a refund or not. This decision will depend on your contract terms and is not guaranteed.
Your card provider may be able to claim your money back via the holiday provider. This is known as chargeback and the claim will be dealt with by your card provider, which will liaise with the holiday company.
A chargeback claim is based on the fact you have not received the services or goods you paid for and you have already asked the provider for a refund. Under specific terms set out in your contract with your card provider, you may be entitled to a refund.
It’s worth noting that usually, you must make a chargeback claim with your card provider within 120 days from the date that the services or goods should have been delivered. For example, if your holiday should have started on the 23rd August, you have until the 21st December to make a chargeback claim.
A successful chargeback claim will only refund you the money you spent with the holiday provider on one specific debit or credit card.
Claiming via Your Travel Insurance Company
Hopefully, you took out travel insurance at the point of booking your holiday. If so, you may be entitled to a claim on your travel insurance depending on your policy agreement.
All travel insurance policies are different, but most cover the customer if they have suffered a financial loss due to travel cancellations.
It’s worth remembering that a claim on your travel insurance may increase the premiums on the next policy you take out. Any claim will only cover the person/s on that policy.
Currently, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is encouraging providers to payout coronavirus compensation for those who had holidays cancelled. Insurers and claims management companies are under a lot of pressure at this moment due to the pandemic and making a claim may be more challenging than usual.
Should You Accept Vouchers?
Many providers are offering vouchers as an alternative to cash to safeguard their business. You do not have to accept vouchers from your provider and if you wish to have the money returned, it’s better to claim a refund.
If you’re happy to accept a voucher, then do so, but you will not be able to change your mind later and request a refund if you do. You should also note that if you accept a voucher from your holiday provider and they go out of business before you can use the voucher, you may not be able to claim via your card issuer.
If you want the cash returned and your holiday provider will only offer a voucher, you should speak to your card issuer and travel insurance provider first.
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