Most hotels offer free cancellation when you book a flexible rate. But when you’re dealing with a schedule that’s subject to change, the devil’s in the details — like how many hours in advance you need to cancel to avoid a penalty fee. Here, we round up the hotels with the most flexible cancellation policies and sites that can help you compare prices.
How COVID-19 has affected hotel cancellations
To address uncertainty resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, most hotels and travel booking sites are relaxing their cancellation policies, so booking a hotel with free cancellation may be easier than before. For example, IHG — which owns Holiday Express, among other big brands — offers a Best Flexible Rate, a low price that also allows you to change or cancel up to 24 hours in advance of your stay.
Some sites added icons to indicate hotels with the best cancellation policies — like Agoda’s EasyCancel badge.
Hotels that offer free cancellations up to 24 hours before check-in
Many big brands let you opt out of reservations up to a day in advance, as long as you book a flexible rate:
Wyndham — including AmericInn, La Quinta, Ramada and more
How to book a hotel with free cancellation
You’ll likely need to choose the regular rate to book a hotel with free cancellation. Unfortunately, most special deals and limited-time promotions are nonrefundable and don’t allow for cancellations.
Also, specific locations may come with cancellation policies that are different from the parent brand’s. Read the fine print before booking to make sure cancellations are allowed and to understand the cancellation window.
Where to book hotels with free cancellations
When you book through a travel aggregator like Orbitz or Priceline, you’re bound to the hotel’s individual policy — not the third party’s. That said, these sites make it easy to find hotels with free cancellation policies by offering filters and visual indicators of which accommodations are best for travelers that need flexibility.
Keep your confirmation email in a convenient place if you think you might need to cancel. That way, you can easily find your reservation number and the hotel’s contact info.
Orbitz’s strong rewards program earns you Orbucks to redeem for a free hotel room later on. Free cancellation — Choose the Free cancellation filter under the Payment type heading.
The Reserve now, pay later filter lets you find hotels to book without paying a cent up front.
Score a secret deal for accommodations around the world and you pick the neighborhood. Hotels, resorts, hostels, apartments, vacation rentals, private villas, bungalows and more – they’re all on Agoda. Free cancellation — Look for the EasyCancel calendar icon to find accommodations that allow you to cancel up until the day of check-in.
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Hotels, hostels, rentals and ryokans – Hotels.com has them all. And its rewards program earns you a free night for every 10 you book. Free cancellation — Select Free cancellation to filter your search.
Look for hotels with the Collect Stamps label to earn points toward a free night’s stay.
Most vacation rental sites offer free cancellations, but the details depend on the site and homeowner. Carefully read the fine print before booking.
Airbnb. Each homeowner chooses their own cancellation policy. To find Airbnb rentals with free cancellation, filter your search by Cancellation flexibility. After you select a property, read the clealry displayed cancellation details withing the rental info. Many Airbnbs let you cancel for free up to a week before arrival.
Vrbo. like Airbnb, property owners with Vrbo set the cancellation policy. You usually can find a cancellation policy that lets you cancel for a 100% refund at least 14 days before arrival. Just select Free cancellation then select 14 days before check-in to filter your search.
FlipKey. Though it’s owned by TripAdvisor, each FlipKey owner chooses their own cancellation policy. FlipKey doesn’t have a free cancellation filter, but after selecting a property, you can find this information in the Cancellations section. It lays out a timeline of how much you’re refunded depending on when you cancel. You can usually cancel for free within 24 hours of booking, but most policies offer less than a 100% refund closer to check-in.
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