Airlines were among the first to start offering more generous change and cancellation policies as coronavirus has spread. Now, major hotel chains and even homestay platforms are following their lead.
Most of the world's largest hotel brands have updated their policies to allow for free change or cancellation. It means you may be able to change or cancel an upcoming hotel stay, as well as any reservations made for booking travel. And in most cases, it seems that applies to both cash bookings as well as award stays booked with points.
These policies are shifting rapidly, so if your upcoming travel doesn't qualify, stay tuned here and check your hotel's website regularly. Consider signing up for your hotel chain's emails or free loyalty program to get notified of changes.
Here's the latest look at how hotels and homestays are allowing free change or cancellation as of Friday, April 3.
Guests residing in China, South Korea, and Japan can cancel any reservations in the United States or Canada penalty-free up until April 30, 2020.
Guests with reservations in Japan, China, and Italy can also cancel with no penalty up through April 30, 2020.
For guests with stays in the United States and Canada, changes and cancellations can be made up to 24 hours before arrival date as long as the change or cancellation is made by April 30, 2020.
Any new reservations made in the United States and Canada through April 30, 2020, can be changed or canceled with no charge up to 24 hours before arrival.
IHG Hotels & Resorts
All cancellation fees will be waived for current and new bookings through April 30, 2020.
There are some additional exemptions to cancellation fees for those with reservations in China, Italy, and South Korea.
Existing reservations booked between March 12 and August 31 – even those deemed “non-cancellable” – can be changed or canceled for no fee. You have to change or cancel at least 24 hours prior to the reservation.
Additionally, any new reservations booked through August 31, 2020, can be changed or canceled up to 24 hours prior to the reservation.
In areas with Government-mandated travel restrictions, Hilton will waive all change and cancellation fees and offer full refunds. This includes China, South Korea, and twenty-six European countries all with their own specific policies.
Any reservations for upcoming travel through June 30 can be changed or canceled up to 24 hours prior to arrival at no charge. That includes nonrefundable bookings.
If you're planning future travel, you don't have to worry about losing your money if plans change, either.Reservations made between April 2 and June 30 for any future arrival date can be canceled or changed up to 24 hours prior to arrival at no charge.
In a memo sent to Marriot Bonvoy members, the CEO outlined their updated cancelation policy related to coronavirus.
You can change or cancel any previously booked reservation so long as you do so by June 30. That's true even for non-refundable, prepaid stays.
Booking for travel down the road? No worries, any reservation for future travel booked by June 30 can also be changed or canceled free so long as you do so at least 24 hours before check-in.
Radisson Hotel Group is allowing free changes and free cancellations for existing and new reservations for stays up through April 3o, 2020.
Any changes made to reservations will be subject to availability and possible increase in rates.
Guests traveling to or from China, South Korea, and Italy can cancel up through March 31, 2020, with no penalty.
Guests who are prohibited from traveling to their hotel by applicable law are able to cancel or change their reservation with no penalty.
All bookings may be changed 48 hours prior to arrival for the same number of nights or more to a future date.
Thrifty Tip: If your hotel is not listed look for the cancelation policy or for the press releases on their website or call customer service. If you booked through a third party booking service you will need to cancel directly through that service.
Even Airbnb has drastically expanded its cancellation policies amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Any Airbnb reservations made before March 14th with a check-in date prior to May 31st can be canceled without penalty under Airbnb's extenuating circumstances policy.
Reservations made after March 14th are not covered by the extenuating circumstance policy unless the guest or host has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
VRBO is doing much less for travelers with upcoming stays than its competitors.
VRBO is leaving it up to homeowners to decide whether to allow cancellation and issue full refunds. Customers have to work with the provider they booked with, rather than VRBO directly. The rental platform has asked homeowners to follow their COVID-19 emergency standards and offer a minimum 50% refund on stays between March 13 and April 30 if different stay dates cannot be agreed upon.
“We are asking partners to offer a full credit for different stay dates within the next year (at no additional cost),” VRBO said. If you are unwilling or unable to accept the credit, we advise working with our partner on an acceptable refund, and we have incentivized our partners to go above and beyond their standard policies.”
This approach protects homestay providers who list their property on VRBO, but for customers, it might mean only a 50% refund – or less if the partner does not comply with VRBO's request.
Hotels and even Airbnb are giving some unprecedented flexibility to change plans and cancel reservations for a full refund. And given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, these policies could expand in the not-too-distant future.