Scam City: Israel Edition

The Taxi Scam

The great thing about Ben Gurion Airport is that no one will hound you for a taxi ride, but if you do get one, be sure to get one at Door Entrance 32 in the departures area where passengers get dropped off. The taxi rate is $40 one way from TLV Airport to Tel Aviv hotels, so don’t pay any more than that.

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The Car Rental Scam

When you rent a car in Israel with your credit card, insurance is not covered by your AMEX, VISA, or Mastercard credit card. Discover is the only credit card where coverage exists in Israel, but good luck since almost all of the car rental agencies don’t accept it.

Car rental agencies will sell you Supplemental Liability Insurance (SLI) that is $15 USD per day. Don’t get scammed in paying any higher than $15 USD per day for SLI insurance.

Remember, there is no right turn on red!


The Gas Station Scam

When you pull up at the gas station, someone will always be there to pump the gas for you. Be sure to select the 95, the lowest price if you are in an economy car. There is a scam going on where the gas attendant will ask you if you want to check your oil and radiator fluid. He will say that it is low and will hand you a bill. He will advise you that you will be reimbursed at the car rental agency when you return the car. Don’t fall for this scam.

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The Restaurant Menu Scam

I happened to encounter a bait & switch at two local restaurants in Israel where I dined. I was charged a much higher amount when the bill came. When the waiter took my order, I simply pointed to the picture even though there was a price clearly listed in NIS. There could have be some fine prints or a minimum/range of prices, but I didn’t add anything additional to my order. When you order something from the restaurant menu, make sure you get verbal confirmation of the price if you don’t understand Hebrew or Arabic. If the menu is in Hebrew or Arabic, ask for an English menu to avoid being scammed. In the end, I didn’t want to argue with the waiter because it was simply not worth it since the amount was very small in discrepancy.

The Tour Guide Scam

In Bethlehem, I found many unofficial tour guides lingering around Manger Square. They pester tourists with express entry into the Church of the Nativity even when there are no lines and hound you for a history lesson. I highly recommend that you stick with an official tour guide or group since these scammers are almost always up to no good. When I went to Mount Zion in Jerusalem, there was an unofficial guide standing outside the Tomb of David and asked me if I wanted to see the tomb. I knew it was for free and he made it seem like it costed admission to enter. Just avoid these type of people in all cases and walk away.

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About the Author

Points Summary
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4 Comments on "Scam City: Israel Edition"

  1. FYI There are Mastercards that cover insurance such as the Chase Sapphire WORLD Mastercard

  2. Very useful tips. I’ll keep this in mind if I go to Israel. Although I get weary of scams like these. Sometimes they leave a bad impression of the place itself. I’m less likely to visit a place again if it has this kind of rampant rip-off culture.

    On the other hand, places with honest, friendly people, I’m happy to go over and over again.

    • if you rent a car, becareful and take pictures of the car’s scratches/dents as well… I hear that a lot of companies are scamming customers for pre-existing damage.. Thanks for reading Marcus!

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