Are travel agents worth it? Pros, cons and what to consider

Travel agents were more common in the past, but they can still be an option when it comes to planning your next vacation. Learn more about using a travel agent, including what they do, how much they cost and how they compare to planning a vacation yourself.

Key takeaways

  • Travel agents can plan your trips for you, from booking hotels to making sure you have the right documents for traveling.
  • The cost for a travel agent could range from nothing at all to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
  • Travel agents may help you access upgrades and benefits that you may not find on your own, but finding the right travel agent could take time.

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What is a travel agent?

Travel agents, also known as travel advisors, plan trips for individuals and groups. This can include booking flights, rental cars, hotels, restaurants and tours as well as purchasing travel insurance, obtaining necessary visas for international travel and more.

A travel agent can coordinate your itinerary, from organizing multiple destinations to handling last-minute flight cancellations. Generally speaking, travel agents take on the research and logistics of trip planning so you can focus on the trip itself.

How much does a travel agent cost?

Travel agents may charge service fees, flat-rate trip fees or consultation fees. For example, you might pay a flat rate of between $100 and $500 for a travel agent. There are some travel agents who operate with no cost to customers and instead receive commissions on the flights and accommodations they book. Others may offer more high-end, customized experiences at premium rates in the thousands.

Is it more expensive to go through a travel agent?

When it comes to cost, it depends on what works best for you. Travel agents may help you save money by using their know-how to find the best price on your airline tickets or hotel room—or even secure upgrades. However, with so many online booking resources available—like Capital One Travel—finding inexpensive flights and booking all your own travel might outweigh the price of a travel agent.

Pros and cons of using a travel agent

Deciding whether a travel agent is worth it to you will depend on your financial situation, your personal preferences and the type of trip you’re planning. Whether you want to leave the travel planning to someone else or plan your next trip yourself, it can be helpful to consider all the factors.

Advantages of using a travel agent

A travel agent could offer the following advantages:

  • Handing off the research and booking to an expert can save time in the trip-planning process.
  • Using a travel agent may help you during the trip, because travel agents could assist in cases of emergencies, cancellations and other travel complications.
  • An agent’s industry knowledge can be helpful in finding benefits that may not be accessible to you, from flight deals and upgrades to extra credits to use aboard cruise lines.
  • Travel agents could plan more exclusive activities for you away from the crowds and find you more unique experiences tailored to your interests.
  • Many travel agents offer the option of an all-inclusive fee up front, so you likely won’t have to worry about additional costs once you’ve booked the trip.

Disadvantages of using a travel agent

There are also some potential disadvantages of using a travel agent to consider:

  • You may prefer booking your own trip if you have specific tastes and like to handpick each stop along your journey.
  • Depending on the trip you have in mind, you might save more money by organizing it yourself rather than through a travel agent, especially if you opt for an affordable vacation spot or want to leverage budget-friendly travel tips.
  • While a travel agent can save you research time for your trip, you’ll still need to spend time finding the right agent to stick to your budget and needs.
  • If you’re the spontaneous type, booking an itinerary may feel restrictive. Doing things your own way can offer greater flexibility.
  • A travel rewards credit card may give you certain benefits that a travel agent can’t.

Should you use a travel rewards credit card instead?

Travel agents can take some of the stress out of travel planning, but if you’re the type of person who wants control over their itinerary, reservations and other aspects of your trip, opening a travel rewards credit card may be a better option.

Travel rewards credit cards can come with benefits that travel agents may not be able to offer. For example, with a Capital One travel rewards credit card, you could enjoy access to exclusive features like Capital One Travel, a TSA PreCheck® or Global Entry credit, Priority Pass™ and more. You’ll also earn rewards on every dollar you spend, even if it’s not related to travel. And you can use those rewards toward airfare and hotel stays.

Keep in mind that you’re free to open a travel rewards credit card and use a travel agent. And if you use your card to pay for their services and the reservations they make, you might earn rewards for those purchases too.

Travel agents in a nutshell

Travel agents can be worth it if you prefer to leave the legwork of planning a trip to someone else, or if you enjoy getting upgrades and visiting off-the-beaten-track destinations. They might even save you money on your trip.

It all comes down to how you prefer to travel. If you’re looking for a simple way to earn rewards that you can use toward your airline tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and other travel-related costs, you might want to consider a travel rewards credit card from Capital One.

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