Are there any reservations that are just that--reservations that are not charges several days ahead?

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Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
Maui Hawaii
Well I would disagree. Refundable means refundable, and while the hotels have a right, reasonable or not, to make the rate refundable only up to 2 days before, they don't have a right to state/advertise one thing on the "rate" screen and then change it on the "buy" screen.

If the information changing it from refundable to refundable-only-up-to-a-point is not available until the very last "buy" screen (and even then you have to click through to another screen to find it) then it's actually a bait and switch--you know, when things are represented as one way and then changed to something else on the "buy" screen.

For it to not be false advertising, the fact that it is not refundable within 48 hours of arrival needs to be shown/advertised on the "rate" screen. This information should be consistent with the "buy" screen. I'm curious. What do you have against putting the actual terms of refundability/non-refundability on the rate screen? I imagine that if an airline changed its terms on the buy screen you would not defend the practice.
The industry has changed. It is not going back to the way it was. I do not see you have any other options.
Likes: Neil Maley
Sep 19, 2015
I always thought it was remarkable that a hotel would allow someone to cancel the room up to 5 pm on the day of arrival. That room is out of inventory for so long, what are the chances of it being re-reserved, unless near an airport where there may be mass cancellations? So I am not surprised that it has changed.

And I do see that having a 48 hour requirement to cancel would be problematic for a lot of business travelers, who often have to change things last minute.

Most hotels changed the policy to the 48 hours in 2017, because there were too many people canceling last minute and rooms were not being filled --

I just tried to look at a Marriott -- I do not see them using the term refundable, just standard rate (48 hour cancellation) versus "prepay and save" while Intercontinental uses the term refundable.

The hotels will probably just move away from using the term refundable.
Likes: krisseye


Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
San Francisco
A few years ago, several of the major hotel chains (Marriott, Hilton, etc), started changing their cancellation policies. They moved away from a 6PM or 4PM the day of arrival cancellation to 24 hour cancellation. This has now been expanded to 48 hour. So, the OP is correct in that most "refundable" rates now require cancellation 2 days prior to arrival or else a deposit is charged. These rates DO NOT charge the credit card in advance.

Resorts typically have different rules, and some resort hotels will charge the 1 night deposit when you book, but it is refundable if cancelled within the terms of the reservation.

Contrast this with advanced purchase (ie non-refundable) rates, which will charge you for the ENTIRE stay, and do not allow ANY changes or modifications once you book.

Here are 2 scenarios with a 5 night stay:
Option 1 : book a "refundable" rate of $150/night X 5 nights = $750. You fail to cancel within 48 hours for whatever reason. You are liable for $150
Option 2: book a "nonrefundable" rate of $140/night X 5 nights = $700. Your are charged $700 when you make the reservation and will be liable for $700 if you cancel even 2 days after you make the reservation

So, yes, there is a difference between the 2 rates and risk. 99.9% of the time, I still choose option 1, because there is less risk.

My personal experience is that general managers of hotels are generally reasonable. If you are within the non-refundable terms of a reservation (ie weather, flight delay), and you call the hotel, explain the situation, more often than not, the hotel will refund you, or offer you a credit. It is a goodwill gesture and they are not obligated to do it, but I have never been told no. Then again, we hold elite status and always book direct, so that may play a role.

Examples I have encountered:
- Flight to destination cancelled. Called hotel. They did not charge me for the reservation
- Incorrectly booked for the wrong night (booked for the night before). Showed up with a "no show" for the night before and no reservation for the night of. They fixed it and honored the rate
- Snowstorm closed the interstate. Called hotel. They did not charge me for the reservation.

Also, the hotel chains have offered flexibility when you need to move a hotel reservation to a different location. For example, I am booked in hotel A, but need to change to hotel B because of travel change, corporate will often "waive" the non-refundable terms at hotel A and re-book you to hotel B.

Again, I hold elite status with the hotel chain I use so your experiences may be different.

However, it is NOT false advertisement. The rates are refundable, and 2 days prior to arrival is "reasonable"
Lee, your examples are excellent ... I didn't know that European hotels have come to create such a large rate difference in refundable vs non-ref. That is definitely something to be aware of. I wonder what the hotel's bottom line looks like when there's such a large difference. Chris, I think you are so right about having loyalty program status. I feel that Hilton will do almost anything they can to assist me if I wind up in trouble. I have the same top status at InterContinental but not the same warm and cozy feeling, they don't seem to emphasize their loyalty people the way Hilton does ... and I've never needed a "favor" from InterContinental.

Several years ago I was looking on Cape Cod for a hotel for a family wedding. I didn't know any better and booked through Expedia. The wedding was 7 months away. Expedia charged me north of $900 on the spot when I made the res. I hit the ceiling, I sent them emails and I checked the site three times to see where it stated that the booking was prepaid and non-refundable. There was no indication whatsoever. They wanted me to call, I insisted on email ... who wants to explain their problem 5 times to call center people?? Meanwhile, a nice disclaimer magically appeared on Expedia's screen detailing the rate rules. It took me several months, but I just kept pounding away via email. One day I noticed a $900 credit on my AmEx. They couldn't even bother to inform me. That was the end of any online booking services for me. They're very handy for research, however.

Bottom line, anyone booking their own travel these days needs to READ the information and THINK about it. And we have to read that information BEFORE we book. There's no way around it, no rationale, no "bait and switch", no blaming the hotel or their website ... it's all there for us to read. The responsibility is solely the traveller's.
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