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What to do if you've booked a Europe trip and entry rules change so you can no longer get in

Aug. 31, 2021
7 min read
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Given yesterday's recommendation by the European Union Council to its 27 member states to once again prohibit unvaccinated Americans from nonessential travel, you may be wondering how to go about canceling your upcoming travel plans if a ban takes effect as expected. (Note: The Council's recommendations will not apply to travelers who have taken approved vaccines, such as those from Johnson & Johnson, Modern and Pfizer.)

We've compiled a list of everything you need to know about where to check for individual country updates, how to change or cancel your flight, and whether credit card companies will allow you to do so for free.

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Where to find country updates

Generally, your best bet is to consult a country's official tourism or government website for the most updated entry restrictions due to COVID-19. Additionally, the U.S. Department of State maintains a country page with the information most relevant to Americans and international travel via the U.S. Embassy in each location.

Watch these sites for changes to entry requirements, which may bar unvaccinated Americans or allow them in with certain testing and/or quarantines.

Check back frequently to determine whether your Europen travel plans might be affected. The below websites serve as official, updated guidance for each country in the EU:

Read more: Confirmed: EU recommends restrictions on US travelers as delta variant spreads

How to cancel/change your travel plans

If you're looking to cancel or change your flight with as few monetary repercussions and frustrations as possible, start by checking to see if your flight was booked on a refundable fare.

Although Southwest has had a long-standing policy of no change or cancellation fees, 2020 inspired Delta, American and United to all follow suit and eliminate change fees for most flights. Delta and United took it a step further by waiving change fees for basic economy class through Dec. 31. Frontier has also waived all change fees through Sept. 30. And Alaska Airlines permanently eliminated change fees across the board in 2020.

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Fortunately, most domestic airlines have waived change fees for non-basic tickets (think premium economy, business class and first class), so if that's the case for your ticket, you should be able to cancel and receive a credit.

"Book something refundable if possible when using bank issuer points," says TPG senior credit card reporter Andrew Kunesh, who warns that "many U.S. airlines won’t let you cancel or change basic economy tickets unless there’s a very special circumstance like a schedule change or travel waiver, so keep this in mind when booking a flight in basic economy."

Read more: Complete guide to changing and canceling award tickets

Otherwise, you may be charged a fee for canceling your flight and/or the difference in fares when rebooking a new flight.

Here's additional information on specific airline, hotel, cruise and train changes and cancellation policies thanks to TPG's strategic travel reporter Benji Stawski.

Read more: Delta variant is on the rise — here’s what to do if you need to cancel your trip

Will credit card companies allow you to change travel for free?

As with all travel during pandemic times, TPG recommends that you do not, I repeat, do not book any portion of your travel as nonrefundable or unchangeable as it's seriously not worth the money that may be saved upfront.

"Generally, your credit card won't help you when it comes to COVID-19-related cancellations or interruptions," says TPG credit card writer Stella Shon. "You'll have to rely on independent travel insurance that offers 'cancel for any reason' coverage."

Read more: When to buy travel insurance vs. when to rely on credit card protections

If nonrefundable travel is your only option, the "cancel for any reason" (also known as CFAR) travel insurance Shon speaks of allows you to cancel due to COVID-19 concerns, assuming you adhere to the purchase and cancellation stipulations outlined in the policy, writes TPG senior travel editor Andrea Rotondo. Just understand that CFAR doesn't cover 100% of your trip costs. Most policies cover up to 75% of the cost of your trip.

Related: Warning: There’s a large gap in pandemic-era travel insurance

Remember that general travel insurance usually does not cover epidemics and pandemics. If you’re considering independent travel insurance for your next trip, you can use a site like InsureMyTrip to quickly compare numerous policy options that include various types of coverage -- including coverage for COVID-19.

Read more: TPG’s comprehensive guide to independent travel insurance — including coronavirus coverage

Bottom line

Country officials are constantly modifying their reopening guidelines based on changing COVID-19 data, so carefully watch for changes specific to your desired destination.

The EU remains open for now, and yesterday's news has yet to be implemented.

"This doesn't change anything immediately and many countries will likely stay open to (vaccinated) tourists," says Kunesh. "We may just see testing requirements imposed for some destinations."

If that's the case, and you'd still like to be able to travel, you'll need your COVID-19 vaccine or see your list of travel options continue to decrease by the day.

"Unfortunately, it's also going to shrink options for those who don't have easy access to testing," says Summer Hull, TPG's director of travel content. "Especially for countries that don't take the at-home monitored tests. Here in Texas, it is almost impossible to get an appointment, let alone a quick turnaround. I know Florida and much of the South is the same."

Related: COVID-19 vaccine required: A country-by-country guide to where you can only go while vaccinated

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

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023