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For many years the travel industry and government have been grappling with the issue of how to protect the public from failing travel providers - tour operators, airlines, cruise lines, etc. Unfortunately, as at now, after many proposals and half baked schemes tried, we are no nearer than we have ever been of finding a solution that either covers everybody or that the public will understand. Therefore, our simple advice is to protect yourself by always paying by credit card (or possibly Visa debit card) - irrespective of who you book with.

We are sometimes asked if we are members of ABTA or have an ATOL.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) is an association of Travel Agents (like the shops you see in the High Streets) and Tour Operators (the people who put the holidays together and produce the brochures you pick up in the Travel Agents). We are an Accommodation Only company, and in common with other accommodation only companies, we are not members of ABTA, because we don't sell flights, or take you on a coach or a ship to your destination. Likewise, airlines, ferry companies, coach companies, cruise lines, etc. are not members of ABTA either. An Air Travel Organisers' Licence (ATOL) is not appropriate for us either because we are not an air travel organiser.

However, booking with ABTA members does not automatically give you financial protection. You will only get full protection if you buy a package holiday. So, for example, if you book a hotel or a flight through a company that is a member of ABTA, but you did not buy a package, you do not get the same financial protection. In effect, when you are covered and when you are not is the cause of much confusion - even amongst travel agents. (See links to Travelmole and Which? articles below).

You are right to be concerned about the safety of your money when booking your holiday. Unfortunately, many holiday companies have gone bust over the years with many people losing a lot of money, usually without realising the risk they were taking.

Fortunately there is a very simple way of protecting your money and that is to pay by credit card (VISA or Mastercard) or VISA debit card.

The Consumer Credit Act gives the consumer protection when paying by credit card for goods or services which cost £100 or more. Even a deposit of less than £100 paid by credit card would be sufficient to cover you for the whole amount - even if you pay the balance by other means, say a debit card or cheque.

Furthermore, although the Consumer Credit Act does not give financial protection to people paying by debit card, VISA now also protects you for payments made with a VISA Debit Card. But this only extends to the amount paid with the card, not to the whole amount if you paid part of the total by other means. Please note that at the moment this only applies to Visa Debit Cards and not to Maestro/Mastercard debit cards. The Consumer Credit Act does not cover payments made by charge card - such as American Express or Diners. Neither does it cover pre-paid cards. So always make sure you pay with the right card.

Of course, the above advice about paying by various cards, applies to all purchases. So you would be well advised to always pay by credit card, or possibly Visa debit card, for all your major purchases, particularly if it will be delivered later, such as a holiday or furniture.

Finally, we would like you to know that Benidorm Apartments is part of Hotels Abroad Limited, which has been trading since 1978, much longer than most of our competitors, and we have no plans to go bust in the near future!

Links to further information about payment by card and ABTA

Which?: Consumer Credit Act.

Travelmole: Is ABTA misleading customers?

Which?: Travellers wrong to believe logos protect cash.