Are Hotel Stays Booked With Points Refundable?
"Reader Questions" are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.
One of the benefits of booking a stay directly with a hotel chain is the ability to cancel your stay without incurring fees. TPG reader Eric wants to know if he can get his points back after booking an award stay...
[pullquote source="TPG Reader Eric"]Are hotel stays booked with points refundable?[/pullquote]
In general, when booking a stay directly with a large hotel chain (i.e. through the hotel's own website) you won't be on the hook for the room if you need to cancel for any reason. However there are some restrictions around this — you'll want to book a room at a refundable rate (not prepaid), and you'll likely have to cancel your reservation within a certain time frame prior to arrival (typically 48 hours, though some hotels impose stricter deadlines). As long as you follow these guidelines, you're usually in the clear.
But what if you booked your stay with points and not cash? Luckily, it's the same case when booking award stays with most major brands (although there are some exceptions).
The following hotel programs allow you to book rooms with points that are refundable:
- Marriott/Starwood Preferred Guest — Must cancel 48 hours before arrival to receive refund
- Hyatt — Must cancel 48 hours before arrival to receive refund
- Hilton — Must cancel 48 hours (sometimes up to 72 hours) before arrival to receive refund
- IHG — Must cancel 24 hours before arrival to receive refund
- Wyndham — Must cancel 24 hours before arrival to receive refund (for Go Free Hotel Awards)
Note that in some cases individual hotels have cancellation policies that differ from those imposed by their parent/management companies — this is because many hotels are operated as franchises of a brand and aren't owned by their namesake corporation.
For instance, a TPG reader wrote that they weren't able to get their Hilton points back after booking a stay at Millennium Hilton Bangkok due to a strict cancellation policy. The Hilton Honors terms and conditions even state that “additional cancellation policies are established by each individual hotel and may differ from the general cancellation policy; in that case, the hotel’s individual cancellation policy applies.” But as long as this restriction isn't disclosed at the time of booking, you should get your points back if you book a refundable award and cancel within the published cancellation deadline of the individual property.
My advice: Before booking an award stay, or any stay for that instance, always read the terms and conditions of that hotel's cancellation policy. Being careful can save you a hoard of cash or points in case you do have to abandon your stay. And if you do need to cancel after the deadline has passed, it never hurts to ask with hotels.