Last Updated: July 2, 2023
Agoda may have captured your attention with its tempting hotel or flight deals.
But, as a savvy traveler, you know that attractive deals often come with hidden costs or risks of losing your hard-earned money.
So before you click on that “Book Now” button on Agoda, let me uncover the truth: Is Agoda legit or a scam waiting to happen?
Let’s dive in!
Is Agoda Legit?
Agoda is definitely legit as it is owned by Booking Holdings, the world’s leading provider of online travel services. However, Agoda can complicate things if something goes wrong or you need to make changes, cancellations, or get a refund.
Agoda basically acts as a middleman between you and hotels and airlines.
Being an intermediary, it is Agoda who collects your payment and handles your booking, not the hotel or airline you book with.
Therefore, they (hotels and airlines) won’t be liable to help you directly since your contract isn’t directly with them, it is with Agoda.
In case something goes wrong and you need assistance, you’ll have to reach out to Agoda who will then initiate contact with your specific hotel or airline on your behalf and subsequently provide you with the necessary updates.
Similarly, you will have to reach out to Agoda in case of making changes, cancellations, and refunds.
And this (the involvement of a third party, Agoda) is the reason why things can get complicated if something goes wrong or you need to make changes, cancellations, or obtain a refund, particularly in the case of flights.
So before you book through Agoda, keep in mind that:
While Agoda can save you money over direct bookings, the major risk associated with booking through them is that it can complicate any mishaps.
In addition to that, you must also be aware of these 3 major risks/drawbacks associated with booking through Agoda:
1. Reservation Issues
Booking a hotel through Agoda or any other online travel agency carries the risk of your reservation not being acknowledged.
Sometimes Agoda fails to notify the hotel about a guest’s reservation, resulting in no reservation or overbooking for the same room.
While at other times, the hotels also “bump” those guests who have paid the least through an online travel agency like Agoda and resell it to someone who has paid more directly.
And upon the guest’s arrival at the hotel, they deceive them by denying the existence of their reservation.
Although Agoda may attempt to address this issue with your hotel, there is no guarantee of a resolution, particularly if the matter is urgent.
Tip: As soon as you book your hotel via Agoda, contact them and confirm your booking to avoid any nasty surprises when you arrive at the hotel (more details and tips below).
2. Agoda Has Minimal Control Over The Standard of Hotels
Another risk/drawback of booking a hotel through Agoda or any other online travel agency is that they have minimal control over the standard of the hotels since they are just middlemen.
Though Agoda provides hotel listings, it’s important to note that the actual hotel may not always match what is portrayed in the listing.
So if the hotel you booked through Agoda fails to meet your expectations or does not align with the listing, unfortunately, you can’t do anything.
When contacting Agoda regarding such issues, it is important to manage your expectations as there is no guarantee that they will provide a refund, arrange an alternative booking at a nearby hotel, or offer any other resolution.
Similarly, do not expect refunds or any other resolution directly from the hotel since they are not directly responsible for your booking.
In a situation like this, it is quite possible that Agoda may push things onto the hotel, and the hotel’s staff may turn around and push things back on Agoda, leaving you stuck in the middle.
As a result, you’ll have no other option than to accept the hotel as it is.
Tip: To avoid any unpleasant surprises upon arrival, conducting thorough research on the hotel you are considering for your stay is advisable. Look for reviews, information on amenities, and browse through photos of the property (more details and tips below).
3. Under Any Circumstances, Refunds For Non-Refundable Bookings Are Generally Refused
If you opt for a non-refundable booking through Agoda, it is important to understand that they typically do not provide refunds, regardless of any circumstances that may impact your travel plans.
Tip: If there is a possibility that your travel plans may change, it is recommended to opt for a refundable booking option when booking through Agoda, even if it entails paying a slightly higher price (more tips below).
So those were the major risks/drawbacks associated with booking through Agoda.
But as far as its legitimacy is concerned, it is undoubtedly a legitimate online travel agency.
How do I know?
Well, I’ve personally booked hotels via Agoda and haven’t encountered any issues.
In fact, it is my go-to travel agent for booking hotels.
My personal experience aside, it’s also worth mentioning that Agoda is part of Booking Holdings which is the world’s leader in online travel.
If Agoda were a scam company, it probably would not be a part of such a big travel company (Booking Holdings)
Moreover, Agoda has been in business since 2005, and if it were a scam company, it probably wouldn’t be around today.
Taking all of these solid factors into account, one can easily determine whether or not Agoda is a legitimate company.
So, Should You Book Directly or Through Agoda?
If the price difference between booking directly and through Agoda is the same or not significant then you should always book directly.
However, if Agoda is offering you a much cheaper rate than booking directly with a hotel or airline then it mostly comes down to your personal comfort level and willingness to take certain risks, such as:
- Difficulties and delays in resolving the issues and making changes, cancellations, and getting refunds, particularly in the case of flights.
- No reservation with the hotel
- Accepting the hotel as it is
- No refunds (in most cases) for non-refundable reservations, regardless of any circumstances that may arise.
Personally, I highly recommend you to AVOID booking flights through Agoda.
The reason is that when you book flights through Agoda, it becomes extremely difficult to make changes, cancellations, or resolve any other issues.
I only recommend Agoda for booking hotels only if the price difference is significant and you’re ready to take those potential risks/drawbacks mentioned above.
However, you can minimize those risks/drawbacks by following these:
8 Tips To Know Before Booking Through Agoda
By following these tips, you are unlikely going to encounter any issues:
1. Check The Hotel And Its Rooms Photos
First of all, check multiple photos of your hotel provided in the listing of Agoda.
And most importantly, you should check the photos of the room from different angles.
Be wary of any listings with limited photos of things like the bathroom or beds to avoid any nasty surprises when you arrive at your destination.
Note: The hotel presents its best side to you in the photos. To get a realistic idea of a hotel and its rooms, you need to:
2. Read Guest Reviews
It is extremely important to read guest reviews thoroughly to get an actual idea of what to expect from the hotel.
Always choose a hotel with a minimum of 100+ reviews and a minimum rating of 9.0 out of 10.
In case you are wondering:
Are the guest reviews real?
In short, YES!
The reviews are real since they can only be submitted by people who have genuinely stayed with the property before.
Next, you’ve to:
3. Be Aware of The Policies
Most often, guests overlook the policies when booking which leads to unsuccessful cancellations and refunds.
Therefore, it is extremely important to be aware of the room cancellations and refund policies before booking your room since each property has its own policies for specific rooms.
Some rooms include free cancellation before a certain time to receive a refund, whereas others are non-refundable.
In addition to that, don’t forget to follow the property policies as well.
After that, you should:
4. Look For The Amenities You Need
Before making a booking with a hotel, make sure the room you are considering has the amenities you need.
In addition to room amenities, check the hotel’s overall amenities and facilities as well to ensure whether or not it has what you’re looking for.
Following the tips above, it’s time to book your hotel but you should:
5. Always Choose To Pay At The Hotel
Never make prepayments when booking a hotel through Agoda.
Always book rooms with a “Pay at the hotel” choice so that if your plans change, you can easily cancel your booking without dealing with Agoda’s lengthy and complicated refund process.
And before submitting your booking details, please:
6. Ensure That Your Booking Details Are Accurate
As you know, it gets more complicated to make changes when you’re booked through Agoda.
Therefore, be sure to double-check your booking details as incorrect details can cause serious problems, particularly in the case of flights booked through Agoda which I do not recommend.
Once your booking is made, you must:
7. Confirm Your Booking With The Hotel
As I said before, one of the major risks associated with booking a hotel through Agoda is that your host may not receive your booking confirmation from Agoda.
This can result in no room availability when you arrive at the property.
Although Agoda will send you a confirmation email once your reservation has been made, it is highly recommended to contact your host and confirm your booking to avoid any nasty surprises when you arrive at your hotel.
You can contact the property via chat, email, or the phone number provided to you by Agoda.
This can be done by visiting “My Bookings” from your account and clicking on your booking.
Note: In case your hotel does not doesn’t respond to you, you should cancel your booking before the cancellation deadline and since you chose to pay at the hotel, you don’t need to worry about anything.
And finally, it is recommended to:
8. Print Out Your Itineraries
Upon successful booking, Agoda will send you a confirmation email outlining the details of your stay, what’s included in your package, refund/cancellation policies, and other important details.
While you can present an electronic copy of your booking confirmation upon check-in, it is preferable to print out your itineraries to avoid any problems when you arrive at your destination.
There you have it!
By following these eight tips, you are unlikely to face any issues with booking a hotel through Agoda.
Why Is Agoda So Cheap?
Agoda is so cheap because of these two business models they employ:
- Merchant Model
- Agency Model
1. Merchant Model
In this model, Agoda buys hotel rooms or another type of booking at a discounted or wholesale price and then sells them to customers over time at a markup price but lower than the current market rate, passing some of its commissions to the customers.
Confused? Consider this example:
For instance, Agoda books a block of 50 rooms from a hotel for $100 per night while the current market rate sits at around $150 per night.
Over time, Agoda resells those rooms at a higher rate ($130) but cheaper than the current market rate by the hotel ($150).
- Agoda gradually resells those 50 rooms for $130 per night.
- Agoda profits $30 if one customer books a room through them.
- The customer is still able to purchase below the current market ($150) by the hotel, saving you $20.
By selling those rooms at a higher price than they purchased for, Agoda makes a profit but also presents savings to the customer over the current market rate.
In this way, Agoda is able to offer cheaper rates than direct bookings.
Additionally, they are able to offer cheaper rates because of:
2. Agency Model
In this business model, Agoda basically acts as a salesperson by facilitating a booking between the customer and the travel providers.
To help travel providers sell their bookings, Agoda gets a commission in exchange.
Since the travel providers (hotels, airlines, etc.) pay a commission to Agoda when a traveler books through them, Agoda, in turn, may pass some of that commission on to consumers.
Thus, Agoda is able to offer you cheaper rates than booking directly.
Common Safety Concerns By Guests
Here are the common safety concerns you might also have:
- Is My Payment & Personal Information Secure?
- Are Guests Safe At The Property?
- Can I Get Scammed on Agoda?
Let me clear up your concerns.
1. Is My Payment & Personal Information Secure?
Agoda takes a number of steps to ensure your payment data and personal information remains safe and secure when you’re booking online.
The website is secured with an SSL certificate, which means any data you submit through a browser remains encrypted.
Agoda also follows the guidelines of applicable data protection laws, ensuring they don’t hold onto any information that isn’t necessary.
After searching through reviews of Agoda online, I couldn’t find any negative comments about the safety and security measures of the company.
I would say you should generally feel confident that your booking information will remain safe.
Is My Personal Information Passed Onto Hosts?
It’s also worth noting that because your booking is managed by Agoda, there’s less risk of giving your details to a third-party vendor.
Agoda remains responsible for processing payments, rather than hosts, so your personal details are not passed onto the hosts themselves.
Hosts are not permitted to ask for your financial information or personal details (beyond perhaps your name for booking reasons).
If your host asks for any sensitive information outside of Agoda, or in the Agoda chat environment, contact the customer service team at Agoda
2. Are Guests Safe At The Property?
Any property you book for a trip, personal, business, or otherwise, should make you feel as safe as possible. It’s fair to be concerned that you might not be entirely safe in a specific location.
Generally, you should be safe with most properties you can access through Agoda. However, a completely safe stay can’t be guaranteed.
This is why it’s so important to do your research before you agree to stay anywhere.
Make sure the property you’re looking for has plenty of reviews (more than 100) from customers who have already visited in the past.
You should prioritize a rating of at least 9.0 to ensure absolute peace of mind.
I would also recommend staying away from rural areas which might not have access to amenities and emergency services when you need them most.
Always, stay in urban areas where you’re close to other people and sources of assistance.
3. Can I Get Scammed on Agoda?
Yes, there are possibilities of getting scammed on Agoda.
However, Agoda has systems in place to prevent booking scams and fraud. One example is, Agoda holds onto a host’s first payout for 30 days after their first guest checks out. Payment is only delivered if the booking went smoothly.
But as a guest, it’s your responsibility as well to follow the safety tips I shared with you above and get familiar with the policies before you book through Agoda.
No doubt, booking through Agoda makes things more complicated if something goes wrong but it is indeed a legitimate online travel agency.
In addition to being a legit platform, booking through Agoda generally saves you money over direct bookings.
So, does this mean you should book through Agoda?
Well, as I said before, it mostly comes down to personal comforts but to wrap up this article, here are my final suggestions:
Avoid booking everything, especially flights, through Agoda except hotels but only if:
- Agoda is offering you a much cheaper price than booking directly with the hotel.
- You’re okay with the risks/drawbacks mentioned above.
However, you can minimize those risks/drawbacks by following the tips listed above.
So that’s it from my side!
If you have any questions or want to share your personal experiences with Agoda, please feel free to comment below.
Is Agoda safe?
Agoda is safe to book from but in the event that something goes wrong, it becomes difficult to resolve any issues, especially in the case of flights since an intermediary (Agoda) is involved.
Is Agoda reliable?
Agoda is reliable for booking hotels but you need to do your due diligence before making the reservation. However, it is not very reliable for booking flights.
Is Agoda a scam?
Agoda is not a scam. It is certainly a legitimate company owned by one of the world’s leading online travel companies, Booking Holdings.
Is Agoda trustworthy?
Agoda is indeed a trustworthy website that has been in business for over 17 years and is part of Booking Holdings Inc., an online travel giant.
Is Agoda safe for flight booking?
Agoda is not very safe for flight booking as it gets complicated to make changes, cancellations, or resolve any other issues when your flights are booked through Agoda.
Is Agoda safe for credit card?
Agoda is definitely safe for credit cards as it processes all payments through fully secure, compliant, and robustly audited payment systems that are recognized by international financial regulators.
How’s Agoda Customer Support?
Agoda customer support may seem reliable on the surface. There’s a help center you can visit to find answers to common questions, such as whether there are any COVID travel restrictions in your area, and how you can make changes to your booking.
However, if you need genuine support from a specialist team, this is where things start to go south.
Based on my research, though there’s a toll-free number for queries and complaints, as well as a live chat feature, responses are notoriously slow, and not always helpful.
Users on Agoda seem generally unhappy with the quality of the support provided and complain about limited assistance with booking issues.
While the team claims to be available 24 hours a day in case of issues, you might not be able to get assistance when you need it most.