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New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Denver, Colorado
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New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Hello,

My friends and I are going to Puerto Rico for a week and are renting a condo. The listing seems legitimate. The listing is on Trip Advisor and VRBO.com with about 20 positive reviews. The contract states that I need to give all my credit card information to secure a deposit. (Paypal can be used for the actual amount). Is this normal?? Safe?? I'm pretty weary about doing this. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Connecticut
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1. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Yes, this is normal. I've owned a vacation rental for 7 years and require a credit card for the deposit. If your uncomfortable with this, will the owner accept a check? Howver, be aware that this may not be in your best interest as if there is a problem your credit card company will dispute the charges. Also you are taking the chance that by the time your check arrives and clears, those dates may have been booked by someone else. The scams you read about regarding vacation rentals are real but you don't hear about the 99.99% of the transactions that go off without a hitch.

Wellington, New...
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2. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Do not pay any international currency transactions in any way other than a credit card. It may be a little dearer because of currency transaction fees but you have the security of probably getting money back via your credit card company in event of something going wrong. Ensure when you make the credit card payment you can see the locked padlock symbol either at the top or bottom of screen. This indicates that the site is secure.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRUCMSTANCES GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER TO THE RECIPIENT UNLESS YOU ARE 100% CERTAIN THAT THE RECIPIENT IS 100% RELIABLE.

If the owner of the vacation rental is above board and they want a deposit paid by credit card they should have a secure payment site, If not then find somewhere else. They maybe honest and above board and they may also be a bunch of internet crooks who will fleece you for thousands.

In this instance why cant PAYPAL be used to pay the deposit.

CAVEAT EMPTOR

Edited: 25 July 2013, 04:35
Lincoln, NH
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3. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Aeril,

Like Rhood, I am also a vacation rental owner and this is standard procedure when an owner wants to be able to charge you for any damages. My litmus test is always looking at how long someone has been on a paid site. If it's more than a year or so, then, there have been no complaints that the advertiser is not legitimate. Scam artists are quickly removed from these sites, so longevity = legitimacy.

Wellington, New...
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4. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Loonmountainman why do you require the credit card details of a prospective client BEFORE they arrive on site? Surely an imprint of the card on arrival should be sufficient to cover any damages etc. If car rental companies can do it and hotels do it, why not vacation rental owners?

The problem with your argument about longevity on a paid site is that with so many sites on the internet these days it is becoming more and more difficult for a newbie to internet bookings to know who is real and who is not. Scam artists exist permanently on scam websites so your argument is flawed.

I accept that many vacation owners are legitimate but many are not. One only has to look at the number of phishing emails one receives from so called legitimate banks to understand that all is not necessarily what it seems on the Internet.

Longgevity on TA gives one more credence IMO than longevity on an internet website

Lincoln, NH
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5. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Bean, I actually do not take credit cards, however, full payment and a means for collecting a damage deposit before arrival is customary for people who do take plastic. Many owners, myself included, never see our guests face to face. For those who do, certainly taking a credit card imprint in exchange for keys to the front door are acceptable.

I am COMPLETELY confounded by your second paragraph. Let me clarify. HomeAway sites - which includes VRBO currently collect upwards of $500 to post an ad. Anyone who has an ad there has paid that amount every year. The very first time a renter reports a scam (which actually is very very rare on PAID SITES) the listing is removed. So, I'll leave it to you to imagine a scenario when someone who bought several years of ads finally starts to defraud a guest.

And, I'm sorry, but your "many are not" [legitimate] is an uninformed guess. If you are talking about places like Craigslist, I'll agree that one should be super careful there. On the sites in question from the OP in this thread, I think they may book with confidence.

The sky is not falling, Bean. Your alarmist attitude has become tiring.

LMM

Lincoln, NH
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6. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

As a point of clarification:

On Homeaway, the OP may look at the submission dates of reviews, find the oldest review and have a pretty good idea of how long the advertiser has been on the site.

On VRBO, the year in which the listing was first purchased is provided at the bottom of the page.

LMM

Ridgewood, New...
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7. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Is the owner charging your card now for a deposit on the rental? Or, is he holding (but not charging) the cc information as security?

Instead of taking physical security/damages deposits, hotels and resorts in the USA "hold" credit cards for charges up to a pre-determined amount to cover any damages that might occur during a guest's stay. The credit card is not actually charged unless damages are determined once the guest has departed. Guests cannot use PayPal to cover the "hold" amount because the card is not actually being charged at the time the hold is put in place.

Wellington, New...
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8. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Loonmountainman if I was dealing with an establishment or organisation I knew was 100% above board then I can accept your argument. If I don't then I wont. The OP asked for advice and I have given it. Whether the OP chooses to accept it or reject is up to them. There are enough complaints on TA and other travel blogs about would be renters of Vacation rentals off the Internet getting ripped off then I would err on the side of caution and use a Travel Agent whereby I have some recourse if things turn pear shaped.

Lincoln, NH
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9. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

I must assume you do not drive a car or cross streets. Dangerous activities that do not have a 100% assurance of a good outcome. Which is just like using a travel agent or a realtor. Sure the property probably exists, when you use an agent, but it is far from an assurance that you'll have a great time.

People who are daring enough to use a site like VRBO open themselves up to a wonderful variety of homes. And with a tiny bit of work, they can be assured that they will not be victimized.... which, as I have written in the past (and you choose to ignore) is an extraordinarily unlikely outcome when following the advice outlined above.

Wellington, New...
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10. Re: New to Vacation Rentals- "Normal Procedure"?

Take some time Loon Mountain Man to go through this forum and read the number of complaints about the VRBO website and its alleged lack of control over the level of properties advertised on its website. If I were a competent Vacation rental owner who was dealing with international and out of state renters then I would ensure that not only was I protecting my interests but also those of my customers. Some of these I have identified earlier. It is now up to the would be renter to decide whether or not they want to take a punt on someone they don't know, on a property only identified by glossy pictures on a website, and give private information like credit card numbers etc on an open website or email address. I know what I would do.

Using a realtor or travel agent gives some degree of assurance and credibility and in our country fidelity funds that a customer can call upon in the event that things turn pear shaped. Also dealing with licensed personnel like realtors and travel agents make claims on travel insurance more likely to succeed.

You may be above board and honest and reputable but how do I know. Advertising on a website that is purely an advertising medium for rental properties does not in my view give you any more credibility than a scamster popping up for the first time. Sorry about that but that's how I see it.