Hotel Cancellation Policies

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Even the most devoted points and miles users have to cancel a trip or two in their lifetime. Whether an unexpected event comes up, you catch a cold, or the craziness of life in general just gets in the way, sometimes canceling is unavoidable. 

When that happens, even being the proud owner of one of the best hotel credit cards of 2020 might not be able to provide a full refund or get you your travel points back. Instead, each hotel and travel agency has their own policies and procedures for a canceled stay, and many of them are more flexible now than ever before due to COVID-19. Here’s what you can expect if you cancel a booking at any major hotel brand or travel agency. 

Cancellation policies of the major U.S. hotel brands

With most major hotels, if you cancel your booking before 24 hours of your scheduled arrival date, you should be able to get a full refund and not incur any cancellation fees. Cancellations made within 24 hours of your scheduled arrival date normally mean you’ll be charged in full for the night, but there are exceptions to every rule!

Hilton

Bookings made before or on September 30, 2020: Cancel or change your booking at no charge with a full refund up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date — this even includes properties that were marked as “non-cancellable” or “advanced purchase” at the time of booking. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

Bookings made on or after October 1, 2020: While most Hilton hotels give you the flexibility to change or cancel your booking up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival time for a full refund, some properties have exceptions. Bookings made after this date are subject to the cancellation policies of the specific Hilton property. Make sure you always check your Hilton hotel cancelation policy before booking any property. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

How to cancel: Hilton Honors members can cancel directly in the Hilton app or on Hilton.com. For non-honors members, cancel through the confirmation email you got at the time of booking, or contact customer support via chat or call.

Hyatt

Bookings made before July 1, 2020: Cancel your booking at no charge and a full refund up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

Bookings made on or after July 1, 2020: Cancel your booking at no charge and a full refund up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date, except for this list of properties which includes some Hyatt properties in Hawaii, Colorado and Hyatt Residence Clubs. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

Exceptions: Hyatt reserves the right to alter cancellation policies during high-demand periods (like holidays), and the above list of excluded cancellation policy properties. 

How to cancel: Visit hyatt.com or use the World of Hyatt app to cancel your reservation. 

Marriott 

Bookings made on or after July 6, 2020, for arrival dates in 2020: Cancel with a full refund or change your booking up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date at no charge. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

Bookings made for arrival dates in 2021 and beyond: Bookings made for 2021 will be subjected to the individual cancellation policies of each Marriott property, which means there isn’t a one-size fits all policy. Make sure you look closely at this before confirming a booking to ensure it will work with your trip. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

Exceptions: Design Hotels and Homes & Villas and some Marriott Vacations Worldwide properties are not included in this policy. 

How to cancel: Marriott Bonvoy members can use the Marriott Bonvoy app or Marriott.com to cancel by signing into their account. Non-members can use Marriott.com to cancel with information regarding their booking. 

IHG

Bookings made on or before September 30, 2020: Cancel any booking, including those that are non-refundable and pre-paid, without charge and for a full refund up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. Cancellations made within 24 hours of scheduled arrival will still be charged at full. 

Bookings made on or after October 1, 2020: All bookings after this date are subject to the rate booked. IHG has four different types of rates: book now, pay later; best flexible rate; IHG Rewards Club members rate; and IHG Rewards Club nights. Most IHG properties allow you to cancel 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date without charge and for a full refund, but depending on the rate and the property booked, you could have up to 6 hours before your check-in time to cancel without charge, or a totally non-refundable room from the time of booking. Make sure you check your booking before confirming! 

How to cancel: Go to IHG.com and enter your confirmation number and last name. 

Wyndham 

All Wyndham bookings: All bookings, regardless of date or rate booked are subject to the cancellation policies of the property. While most Wyndham properties allow a flexible, 24-hour cancelation policy with a full refund, make sure you check the terms and conditions of your booking before you reserve it. 

How to cancel: Visit Wyndham.com or call the Wyndham assistance line. 

Online travel agency (OTA) cancellation policies 

If you’re booking your hotel through an online travel agency instead of directly on the hotel website, the cancellation policies are different. Here are the policies for three of the major OTAs.

Expedia 

For all bookings: When booking on Expedia, you can filter your search for hotels to only show properties that offer “free cancellation” and “no-fee change options” to ensure you’ll be able to cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival date at no-charge. Expedia says many of their properties already qualify for this, but it’s always good to ensure with the filters.

If you don’t see these tags when making a booking on Expedia, it means that standard cancellation policies apply depending on which property you book. If you don’t see any option to cancel at all, it means that your scheduled arrival date is either too close to cancel, or that you booked a non-cancellable property. 

Also remember that if you booked a vacation package, you’ll need to cancel your flight or ground transportation separately. 

How to cancel: Sign in to your account at Expedia.com or, if you don’t have an account, use the itinerary or confirmation number you received via email upon booking. 

Orbitz

For all bookings: All Orbitz bookings are subject to different cancellation policies based on location and travel dates currently due to the pandemic. Orbitz advises that because of the changing state of the coronavirus, the best practice for travellers is to check their website for updated policies as their travel dates are near if they need to cancel. Most Orbitz bookings have a 24- or 48-hour advance notice cancellation policy, but this is subject to change based on multiple factors. 

How to cancel: Orbitz reservations can be cancelled online through your Orbitz account or via chat function, through Orbitz cancellation request form or directly with an agent through their customer service number.

Priceline 

For all bookings: Priceline has no blanket cancellation policy, and this is still in place even during the coronavirus pandemic. The individual hotel controls the cancellation policies with Priceline, therefore when you’re booking make sure you read these carefully before confirming!

How to cancel: Use priceline.com, regardless of whether you have a Priceline account. For those with an account use the “my trips” function to cancel. For those without an account use the “find my trips” function to cancel. 

FAQ regarding hotel cancellations 

Can you dispute a non-refundable hotel reservation? 

Generally speaking, a non-refundable hotel room is usually, well, non-refundable. However, there are some special circumstances. As we’ve seen with Hilton and IHG, there are some COVID-19 policies that will allow you to get a refund for even non-refundable rooms.

It’s also always worth a shot to explain your circumstances for cancelling to the hotel. If you have a convincing case and a little bit of luck, maybe you’ll get a refund, or at least a partial refund for your troubles! 

Who do you call to cancel a reservation done through a booking website?

If you make a hotel reservation via a booking website, like hotels.com or booking.com, you’ll need to cancel it directly on their website or by calling the company directly at their customer service number. Most of these websites adhere to a 24-hour or 48-hour before scheduled arrival date cancellation policy, so be sure to check their policy as well while you’re booking.

If you make your hotel reservation on a travel portal, like the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal using points or miles, you can cancel directly on the portal, within its terms and conditions. 

Bottom line

Travel can be extremely unpredictable and now, amidst the coronavirus pandemic, it’s more unpredictable than ever. Hotels and online travel agencies understand this and the majority have made their cancellation policies accommodating and easy, and will allow you to cancel for a full refund up to 24 hours before your arrival date. 

The best things you can do as a traveler are look closely at the individual property’s cancellation policy before booking, try to cancel before 24 hours of your arrival date, and accept that sometimes life just gets in the way of travel! 

Alexandra Maloney is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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