It’s easy to see why the allure of travel to exotic destinations at reduced rates and with special levels of service, often accompanied by a promise of actually making money, could appeal to consumers. Credential or “card mill” promotions promise consumers glamour and the high life at a bargain, and the chance to make money with little effort. But the allure is a façade, and the promise is an illusion perpetuated by sellers of deceptive travel agent credentials.
Organizations making these offers are known throughout the travel industry as card mills because they routinely offer credentials by the thousands in the form of an identification card. The credentials are usually sold at a significant fee and consumers may be led to believe that such cards allow them to travel at free or reduced fares and would presumably be accepted by every segment of the travel industry. However, ASTA cautions that the industry has become much more vigilant in clamping down on those using card mill credentials.
ASTA offers the following guide to help consumers and consumer protection advocates identify bogus credential promotions and differentiate between holders of card mill ID’s and legitimate travel agents.