Reader Email: Canceling Prepaid/Noncancelable/Nonrefundable Hotel Booking


LoyaltyLobby reader emailed me the following question earlier this week about canceling a prepaid rate that is not cancelable:


I always advise people to be very careful when making advance bookings using rates that are noncancelable or nonrefundable. You should only book these rates if your plans are 100% firm or you can to live with the fact that you will end up throwing away reservation or two once in a while.

Here’s what you could do:

1. Contact the elite level customer service first to see if they can help you with canceling the reservation without penalty. They will likely call the front desk and negotiate on your behalf.

If this is not successful then:

2. Contact the hotel directly and ask to speak with the General or Revenue Manager. Most of the managers are reasonable and willing to work with you including letting you cancel.

If this is not successful then:

3. If they are not willing to cancel the reservation/refund, inquire about using the money for a future reservation at the same hotel. This way the hotel wouldn’t lose any revenue and it would be win win for both parties.

If this is not successful then:

4. Have a friend living in the city checking in to hotel and get some points and stay & night credit out of it. Just make sure that you have added them as your second guest. It is not guaranteed that you will get the points etc. but very likely.

Travel Insurance

It could be worthwhile considering buying a yearly travel insurance if you travel a lot. Of course it wouldn’t cover for changing plans without a reason, but if your relatively passes away or you get sick, it would likely cover the expenses.


Always be careful with prepaid rates that are not cancelable with the airlines and hotels. I have thrown away few airline tickets over the years and handful of hotel ones.

Remember that hotels don’t have to cancel and refund if you have agreed to the terms at the time of purchase.

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  • ABC

    I always book cancelable hotel rooms. Often you have to check in by 1800. Unfortunately I sometimes have flights late in the evenings and the flights are cancelled or airports are shut down. Some hotels let me cancel others don’t. How do you handle those situations?

    • I have had to cancel few times as well when there have been delays, but these have always been properties where I have been a frequent guest. Never been a problem.

  • YI

    Can you recommend some travel insurance plans that include hotel refund, please?

    • Depends where you live. If I get sick and cannot travel, the travel insurance compensates for the non-refundable expenses.

  • Neet

    Great suggestions, what is your favorite travel insurance company? And do you have recommendations for the “Yearly Travel Insurance” ? Thanks so much.

    • I have mine from Europe. It really depends of the country that you live in. I know that these policies tend to be very expensive in the US, but very affordable in Europe.

  • Mark

    This is why I refuse to do business with IHG. Their wording on their website is not as clear as it could be informing you of the non-refundable rate. Most web sites have it in big bold letters but IHG likes to bury it a few paragraphs down the page in normal type.
    I booked a room in the summer for Santa Cruz, CA for a very expensive rate not realizing that it was non-refundable (my fault). When my plans changed, I contacted the manager months in advance who refused to let me cancel even though they could have rebooked the room immediately with no problem. She did offer to move the reservation to the fall (when the room rate dropped to a third of the price I had paid).

    IHG lost my business for life. I’ll gladly take my business to a customer friendly company like Hyatt, Marriott or Hilton instead.

    • With IHG you are normally presented with number of rates. I personally haven’t had problem with misunderstanding the cancellation rules.

  • TB

    You can try selling it to other users on

    • Need to have a look at this service at some point.