Last chance: Why now is the best time to book a hotel stay

Sep 30, 2020

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Editor’s note: We are republishing this story as it is Sept. 30 and none of the major chains have extended their flexible booking policies yet. As of now, today is the last day Hilton, Marriott and IHG are offering free changes for all new bookings. Beginning Oct. 1, all new nonrefundable/pre-paid bookings will be subject to the usual terms and conditions.

Slowly but surely, travel is returning to normalcy. From border reopenings to the resumption of in-flight services to the return lucrative credit card bonuses, the travel world is looking a lot better than it did a few months ago.

Understandably, not everyone is ready to travel yet. However, now may be the best time to book future hotel stays, whether for later this year or far into 2021.

Hear me out.

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Last chance to book hotels with flexibility

Like other travel companies, hotels understand it’s difficult to commit to new trips amid a pandemic. So, to boost traveler confidence and spur bookings, hotels updated their change and cancellation policies to be as consumer-friendly as possible. For the past few months, hotels have allowed all new reservations to be canceled at no charge, up to 24 hours before arrival.

Unlike airlines, hotels aren’t eliminating change fees entirely. As we reported at the beginning of the month, most major chains will only offer this flexibility for bookings made through Sept. 30. That means that beginning Oct. 1, all new nonrefundable/pre-paid bookings will be subject to the usual terms and conditions.

This applies to bookings made with HiltonMarriott and IHG, among other major chains. And unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they will extend their policies.

At the time of writing, Hyatt is among the few chains that will still offer flexibility for all bookings made Oct. 1 and beyond.

A spokesperson for Hyatt told TPG, “We do not plan to end this flexible cancellation policy early at the end of September, and in fact, this policy will extend for reservations booked for arrivals through July 31, 2021.”

A Hilton spokesperson previously told us, “we’re closely monitoring the situation and actively discussing how we continue to deliver the flexibility that our guests need beyond that date.” However, we’re at the end of the month and the original Sept. 30 end date still stands.

Related: The travel companies we’d like to see step up in light of ongoing travel concerns

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Nonrefundable hotel rates are coming back. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

Deals galore

Aside from offering greater flexibility, hotels around the world have slashed rates to new lows. We’ve also been seeing a slew of Amex Offers for discounts and bonuses at major hotels, such as the following:

  • Hampton by Hilton & Hilton Garden Inn: Spend $175 or more, get $50 back
  • Waldorf Astoria & Conrad: Spend $500 or more, get $125 back
  • DoubleTree by Hilton & Tapestry: Spend $225 or more, get $60 back
  • Hilton Hotels, Curio Collection & Canopy: Spend $250 or more, get $60 back
  • Marriott: Spend $250 or more, get $75 back
  • American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts: Spend $800 or more, get $150 back
  • Hyatt: Spend $250 or more, get $50 back
  • InterContinental: Spend $200 or more, get $40 back
  • Kimpton: Spend $200 or more, get $40 back

The Amex Offers program is available to virtually all personal and small business Amex cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card. Since you’d be booking directly through the hotels for almost all of these offers, you’d still be able to take advantage of ongoing hotel promotions. For instance, Hilton is currently offering double Hilton Honors points and elite night credits and Marriott is offering bonus points on stays.

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

These deals won’t last forever. By booking now, you’ll be able to lock in a low rate and have the flexibility to cancel later if necessary.

Related: The hottest new travel trend is officially ‘schoolcations’

Bottom line

Hotels are beginning to bring back certain amenities and services that were suspended due to the pandemic. At the same time, many hotels are ending some of their customer-friendly changes that were implemented in response to the pandemic, specifically their flexible booking policies.

Whether it be for later this year, springtime or even next summer, by booking your future hotel stays before the end of the month, you’ll be able to take advantage of some best-ever deals and have the option to change your plans later free of charge. To fully maximize your stays, make sure you use one of the best hotel credit cards.

Featured image by Samantha Rosen/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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