You always have to be on the lookout for costs that are foisted on you when booking travel online. There is currently a great danger lurking in hotel offers due to hidden “service” flat rates.

If you come across a highly attractive room price when searching for a specific hotel on the Internet, you should better avoid the offer. Especially if the prices of the well-known booking platforms for the hotel you are looking for are far above this offer. The European Consumer Center Germany (EVZ) advises this.

Because such an offer usually hides dubious travel agencies who rip off consumers: A “service fee” of between 50 and 100 percent of the room price is added to the originally attractive price.

The problem: This “fee” is not visible during the booking. The EVZ warns that you only find out about this after you have entered your credit card details and received the invoice.

This procedure is illegal under EU law. But if the agencies were based outside the European Union, it would be difficult to take action and get the money back, according to consumer advocates. However, one can always try to have the money paid by credit card booked back (chargeback).

The EVZ gives these tips for booking hotels online: