Self-catering accommodation: What to watch out for

Jenai Laignel / 24 February 2016

Space, privacy and the freedom to set your own timetable – it's no wonder that self-catered holidays have climbed in popularity over the past few years.

Whether you are travelling with a group of friends, as a pair, or with family in tow, renting a self-catered holiday home means that you can rise at the crack of dawn for a delicious pot of morning coffee or sleep in and eat breakfast in your pyjamas – whatever your preference, there's no need to wait on staff or other guests' convenience.

Whilst there are many fine choices for renting self-catered accommodation close to home if convenience is what matters the most – many self-catering companies offer a wide selection of properties all over the world which means many travellers are choosing to venture further afield. The annual BDRC Continental Holiday Trends Report 2015 revealed that overseas holidays are increasing year on year, as is the rise in intention to holiday overseas.

Unfortunately, as the popularity of booking self-catered accommodation overseas rises, so do the risks of fraud. The City of London Police's National Fraud Intelligence Bureau reported that in 2014, there were 1,569 incidents of holiday booking fraud recorded by the police's Action Fraud team. And sadly, fraud linked to booking accommodation is one of the most common.

But don't let the risk of fraud put you off that longed-for holiday abroad. There are a few preventative measures you can take to minimise the risk of becoming a victim...

1. Research the property independently

We live in a digital age where sites such as TripAdvisor and social networks allow previous guests to leave comments about their stay. Some good reviews can be faked but they are still a good starting point to get a feel for a property. You can also check Google Maps to confirm the location of the villa and even check pictures to be sure you are getting what you are paying for.

Saga Holidays even offer their own independent rating for every hotel that we use to ensure that there are no nasty surprises for our holidaymakers. 

Find out more about Saga Holidays

2. Read the small print

It's far too easy for a fraudster to simply create a fake listing and make off with your cash. Ensure you have legitimate contact details and read the small print of your contract. The deposit should be no more than 25% – be sure that you understand the terms so you aren't caught out.

Related: Six holiday booking scams to avoid

3. Use a credit card

When paying a holding deposit, use a credit card. Paypal can offer protection if your account is hooked up to a credit card, but the safest way to protect your investment is to use a reputable credit card provider that offers fraud protection. If you are considering booking with a rental site which offers protection, be sure to read the small print so you fully understand the terms.

Of course, one of the safest ways to book your self-catered holiday accommodation is through a reputable company you know you can trust. This way the operator is responsible for your booking, protecting your money and ensuring your trip runs smoothly.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.