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Here’s what you need to know about canceling flights purchased with bank points

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Here’s what you need to know about canceling flights purchased with bank points

Meghan HunterHere’s what you need to know about canceling flights purchased with bank pointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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When your travel plans change, most airlines will make you pay to cancel your ticket. But what happens when you cancel a flight that was paid for with bank points? For example, if you booked your flight using Chase Ultimate Rewards points, will you get your points back if you cancel your reward ticket?

Coronavirus update: When you modify a flight that has been paid for with points the cancellation/change policies will vary depending on which airline you booked. But right now change fees are being waived for the majority of flights that are departing in the near future. Hold times are exceptionally long right now, so you’ll need to be patient. To combat this some banks are working to setup other options to change travel that was booked through them. We have been told by Chase that it is working with Expedia to setup self-service cancellation options that “will launch very soon.” Until then, you can submit a cancellation request online with this form which can also be found on the Ultimate Rewards page’s FAQ section (you might need to be signed into your account to access it) and your refund should be confirmed within 7 days.

Where do all those points go when you cancel a flight that was paid for with bank points? (Photo by TierneyMJ/Shutterstock)

What happens when you cancel a ticket you paid for with flexible rewards?

What happens to your flexible rewards if you cancel your ticket depends first on whether you transferred your points to a travel partner or paid for the flight with points through the bank’s travel portal (like the Chase portal or Amex portal). Once you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points or Amex Membership Rewards points to a travel partner, for example, you cannot reverse the transfer.

But if you pay with bank points using the bank’s travel portal, you have 24 hours to cancel your flight and receive a full refund of your points. Amex, however, will give you your refund as a statement credit — not points.

If you wait longer than that to cancel, you will not get your points back. Any refund or cancellation fees will depend on which airline you booked with and the type of fare you booked (refundable or nonrefundable).

Every airline has different rules and fees. Southwest doesn’t charge a change fee but other airlines, like American Airlines, charge $200 for changes or cancellations. And remember, flights bought with points are treated like a cash purchase. So you will pay the fees associated with purchased tickets, not the fees charged for award flights. 

Here's What You Need To Know About Canceling Flights Paid With Bank Points
If you cancel a non-refundable fare (after 24 hours) booked with Chase Ultimate Rewards points you could lose out on points & cash — a total bummer.

For example, if you paid the 22,688 Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the ~$283 ticket shown above, you would only get ~$83 back if you canceled. That’s because American Airlines charges a $200 change or cancellation fee.

Bottom line

Lots of people love using flexible rewards, like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards, to pay for flights because you still earn frequent flyer miles and elite status on your free flight.

But when you cancel a flight paid with transferable points, you must cancel within 24 hours of booking or you will not get your points back. After that, your refund will be subject to the rules of the airline you booked with.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
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  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
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  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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What about when the airline suspends the route for which you had booked using Chase points?

I purchased tickets using my US Bank Flexperks miles. I call the number and they say heavy call volume, call back later. I called the airlines direct but they can’t refund the miles. Any suggestions. FYI – the flights I had scheduled with Delta were so easy to cancel and get refunds.

The crisis has made it impossible to maintain my reservation itinerary 7523592707172. Santa Barbara to Boston and return I have called the number 1888 511-5326 on numerous occasions. At first no answer then a message that I could not get through unless my flight was within the next 10 days. I want to cancel those thickets and I want full return of the points I used with no money penalty from the airlines. Please contact me within the next 5 days by email or phone 805 969 5054 Thank you Marvin A. Bauer

Just called to cancel a flight because of the coronavirus on my chase preferred card. Chase won’t refund me the tickets and the airline is charging me 200 dollar cancellation fee for each ticket so a total of 4 tickets (round trip for 2 passengers) Going to be out 800 dollars of CC points.

That’s messed up and does not make any sense. I mean, do they want people to continue flying and infecting their employees?

This doesn’t apply to flights…you have to call in and wait for an hour to tell a rep to cancel afloght that you incorrectly booked within the 24hour period.

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