There are many reasons why people cancel travel plans. Any number of things can happen. But thanks to COVID-19, it’s become increasingly more common, which is why many hotels have really made it difficult to cancel. You can’t blame hoteliers, especially those in vacation destinations where, if someone cancels last-minute, there’s just no chance of getting someone else to book the room.
USA Today ran an interesting article recently entitled: “Yes, you can get a refund on a nonrefundable hotel room. Here’s how to do it.” The author, Chris Elliott, features three tricks, two of which I already knew.
1. Get travel Insurance
By now, everyone knows the importance of travel insurance and that you must read your policy closely, including the fine print, to make sure you understand what’s covered and what’s not. Unless you buy a top tier “cancel for any reason” policy, also known as a CFAR, you can’t just cancel out of fear or because something came up. So … always read and understand your policy. Full disclosure: I have worked as an ambassador for Allianz Travel Insurance over the years and would never travel without an up-to-date policy, which I’ve had to use before.
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This trick doesn’t work for straight up non-refundable rooms — it works for ones where you miss the cut-off to cancel. Hoteliers don’t really like it when I share this tip but every seasoned traveler knows it. If you’re inside the cancelation period window, then call up the hotel and postpone your reservation for a later date. Then call back before the cancellation period for the new reservation ends and cancel it. Here’s an example, let’s say you have to give a 48-hour notice to cancel. 24 hours out you get sick and can’t go. Hotels won’t let you cancel so you call them up and ask to postpone the reservation to the following week. Then call up 72 hours before and cancel.
3. Resell the room
Yes, I’m saving the best tip for last and it’s the trick I didn’t really know about. But if you have a non-refundable room, didn’t buy travel insurance and don’t want to postpone your arrival date and then cancel, then check out SpareFare.net as they facilitate room changes. The CEO told USA Today, “hotels allow for changes of the name of the main guest under the reservation. Booking.com and Expedia facilitate name changes as well. You can recover some or all of your hotel room costs.”
So, there you have three solid ways to get a refund on a non-refundable hotel room. But my best advice is to know the hotel’s refund policy when booking and set a reminder for yourself about when the cancelation cut-off is. I use this free email service to remind me of important things (often refund deadlines), especially when they’re pretty far in advance, since I know I’d forget otherwise. If you have any of your own tricks, please share them in the comments below! KEEP READING: 4 Hacks For Getting a Better Night’s Sleep in a Hotel