HOLIDAYMAKERS have been warned today that summer trips abroad may be cancelled, so we explain your refund rights.
It comes as health secretary, Matt Hancock, told ITV's This Morning that the public likely won't be able to go out of the country for a getaway for the remainder of the summer.
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He said: "I think it’s unlikely that big lavish international holidays are going to be possible for this summer."
Currently, all but essential travel from the UK has been banned by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
And even once the ban is lifted many countries are expected to introduce quarantine measures making a short break seemingly pointless.
Spain, for example, has today said travellers to the country will face a 14 day quarantine.
How to claim under Section 75
FOR purchases of between £100 and £30,000 made on credit card, your card provider is jointly liable if you don't get the service you paid for.
In this scenario, you could claim a full refund from your credit card provider for cancelled flights.
If your flights are yet to be cancelled, you'll likely need to wait until they are in order to claim, as from your card provider's perspective this service is still going ahead.
If you think you have a claim, contact your card provider directly – Which? has a free tool that can help you do this.
You should make a claim within six years of buying the goods or services
Just bear in mind you'll need to claim for different transactions separately, for example if you paid for your flights and hotels separately.
One grey area to watch out for is goods paid through an agent, such as a travel agent, or a third party, as your card provider could argue it doesn't have a "direct relationship" with the supplier.
If your claim proves unsuccessful, you can take it to the free Financial Ombudsman Service.
Meanwhile British travellers returning to the UK will also be quarantined for 14 days alongside anyone else coming into the country.
The only exceptions are those entering the UK from Ireland, the Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey, and for those going to and from France.
Even UK breaks are on hold for now, with hotels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, campsites, caravan parks, and boarding houses for commercial or leisure use currently closed for leisure purposes until at least July 4.
But what does this all mean for refunds? We explain your rights below.
Can I get a refund from my travel provider and do I have to accept vouchers?
While the FCO has advised against all but essential travel outside of the UK, it hasn't placed an end date on this.
This means in practice travel companies are only cancelling trips and contacting affected passengers who are due to travel imminently.
And there's no industry-wide refund scheme that has been announced for holidaymakers by the government, which means the current rules remain in place.
So whether you're due a refund depends on the type of trip booked.
If you booked directly with the airline, under EC 261 rules you're entitled to an alternative flight or a full refund if you were due to be on a flight leaving the UK or a flight returning to the UK with an EU airline.
For other flights it depends on the carrier.
For those with a package holiday, you should be protected by Package Travel Regulations (PTRs), which again should mean you can claim a refund.
Alternatively, you may be covered by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) if you booked via one of its members.
But there are long delays in processing refunds and some firms, including Ryanair and TUI have wrongly been offering vouchers or credit notes instead of cash.
Industry trade body ABTA has advised holidaymakers to accept vouchers for now as otherwise it says firms could go under – you may then be able to later swap the voucher for cash.
If your trip is yet to be cancelled or you have a UK break booked after July 4, you can ask your travel provider to move the dates or request a refund but you have no guaranteed rights to this unless explicitly stated in your contract.
So you may be told to sit tight and to wait until nearer the time.
If the FCO lifts its advice but the country you're going to is operating a quarantine, technically your trip can still go ahead so you're not guaranteed a refund – in this scenario, talk to your provider as it may offer alternative dates or a goodwill refund.
Can I get a refund from my travel insurance?
In the first instance it's always best to talk to your travel provider, as outlined above.
But if your travel provider won't pay out or is struggling with a backlog of claims, it's worth checking if your travel insurer will instead pay you a refund instead.
Travel providers typically pay out for trips cancelled due to FCO advice not to travel.
But again, travel insurance will only typically pay out once your trip has been cancelled, and even then your policy needs to provide cancellation cover for coronavirus – something many new policies won't cover for.
If you simply want to cancel your trip you're unlikely to be able to claim on your insurance unless you have a pre-existing medical condition that could make travelling risky given the coronavirus climate.
If you do claim on your travel insurance, also bear in mind you'll likely have to pay a fee known as an "excess" on any claim.
Can I get a refund from my card provider?
Credit card payments of between £100 and £30,000 are covered under Section 75 of the Consumer Rights Act.
This means where you don't get the service you paid for, eg, your trip is called, your credit card provider is jointly liable and you can reclaim costs from them.
To start a claim, you need to contact your credit card provider directly.
For flights and hotels booked by debit card you may be able to claim a refund via the Chargeback scheme if your provider has cancelled your booking.
This also applies to credit card bookings of under £100.
As with Section 75, chargeback can be used to reclaim cash for goods and services you didn't receive.
But unlike Section 75, it's not a legal requirement so there's no guarantee you'll get your money back.
To start a chargeback claim, you need to contact your card provider within 120 days of the transaction.
But be aware that some banks have blocked "£7billion in holiday refund claims," according to consumer group Which?.
It says some have been told that their claim won't be processed until they've tried to get the cash back from the travel firm first, even though this isn't a legal requirement.
While others have been told they're not able to make a claim because they've been offered credit notes.
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