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How to recover miles and points if you cancel your trip

Limit non-essential travel, and recover your points.

Travel remains hindered for most of us as we head into 2021, and canceled flights are part and parcel with our evolving travel plans. Normally, you’d have to pay a fee to cancel your flight and obtain your points, but many airlines have all but eliminated these fees for the time being. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you don’t lose out on your points.

How to recover travel miles with airlines

The steps you’ll need to take to recover travel miles vary greatly from airline to airline. Under normal circumstances, you’ll need to pay a fee to cancel and reschedule your flight.

This effectively returns your rewards points for future use. But some airlines have started posting fee exemptions to the rule in response to travel restrictions.

AirlineTypical cancellation feeEmergency exemptions for fees
Alaska$125
  • See details below
  • Beginning January 1, 2021, all change and cancel fees are eliminated on Main and First Class flights.
American Airlines$150 (plus $25 for immediate mile restoration)
  • All change fees for First, Business, Premium Economy and Main Cabin tickets for domestic and short-haul international flights issued on or after August 31, 2020 are waived.
  • Cancel or reschedule your trip here
Delta$150
  • Change fees and redeposit fees are waived for customers who purchased their tickets before April 17, 2020 and are scheduled to travel through March 31, 2020. Delta eCredits can be saved and used through December 31, 2022
  • Change fees and redeposit fees are waived for customers who purchased their tickets between March 1 and December 31, 2020 for up to a year from the date purchased
  • Cancel or reschedule your trip here
Frontier$75
  • Change fees are waived for all travel through January 7, 2021. Changes and cancellations must be made prior to the required check-in time
  • To cancel your reservation, click here.
JetBlueUp to $200 depending on fare
SouthwestNone (Southwest doesn’t typically charge cancel/change fees)
UnitedBetween $25 and $125 depending on date and status
  • Change fees are permanently eliminated for most Economy and premium cabin tickets for travel within the U.S., or between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean
  • All other destinations are waived through December 31, 2020
  • Cancel or reschedule your flight here

Alaska’s policy in depth

Exemptions for Alaska are a bit more nuanced:

For tickets purchased on/before February 26, 2020:
Original Travel Dates
March 9, 2020-December 31, 2020
New Travel Dates
One year from original travel date
Exception Policy

  • You must change or cancel your flight prior to departure if you:
    • Purchased a Saver fare for travel through December 31, 2020. You may cancel your trip without a fee and deposit the funds from your account wallet or receive a credit certificate for future travel.
    • Purchased a nonrefundable First Class, main or award ticket for travel through December 31, 2020, you may change your trip without a fee. New travel must be completed by February 28, 2021. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary. You can cancel your trip without a fee and deposit the funds into your account wallet or receive a credit certificate for future travel.
  • This waiver is valid only for tickets issued by Alaska Airlines.
  • Tickets issued by other airlines with a different carrier code are subject to the waiver policy of the other airline.
  • If you purchased your tickets through a third party, you’ll need to contact them directly for assistance.

For tickets purchased February 27, 2020 to December 31, 2020:
Original Travel Dates
February 27, 2020-November 30, 2021
New Travel Dates
One year from original travel date
Exception Policy

  • You must change or cancel your flight prior to departure.
  • If you purchase a Saver fare between February 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020 for travel through February 28, 2021, you may:
  • If you purchase a nonrefundable First Class, main, or award ticket between February 27, 2020 and December 31, 2020, you may:
    • Change your trip without a fee. A fare difference may apply to your new itinerary.
    • Cancel your trip without a fee and deposit the funds into My Account wallet or receive a credit certificate for future travel.
  • This waiver is valid only for tickets issued by Alaska Airlines.
  • Tickets issued by other airlines with a different carrier code are subject to the waiver policy of the other airline.
  • If you purchased your tickets through a third party, you’ll need to contact them directly for assistance.

How to recover points with hotels

Compared to recovering your miles with airlines, it’s much easier to have your hotel reward points restored during a cancellation or rescheduling.

HotelFee for restoring pointsRequirements
Best WesternNoneCancel based on reservation policy
HiltonNoneCancel within 48 hours of reservation
HyattNoneCancel based on reservation policy
MarriottNone. Fees for hotel cancellation charges onlyCancel based on reservation policy
RadissonNone. Fees for hotel cancellation charges onlyNone
WyndhamNoneNone

As you can see, you won’t pay a fee for having your hotel points restored so long as you cancel within the hotel’s cancellation policies.

How to recover points from credit card travel portals

If you book a flight or hotel with your credit card points through a travel portal, whether you can get your points back greatly depends on your card’s rewards program.

Capital One Travel

As of this writing, Capital One is honoring waivers issued from airlines available through the Capital One Travel portal. That means any refunds for a canceled flight will be according to the airline’s policies, which can often include a waiver or statement good for a future flight. The only way to get your Capital One points back on a canceled flight is if you cancel within 24 hours of booking.

You can cancel an eligible booked flight by signing into your Capital One account at the Capital One Travel site, clicking on “My Trips” and selecting your flight. Flights eligible for cancellation this way must be more than 5 days away from departing and be with:

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • United Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • If you’re flying with an unlisted airline or your flight is in less than 5 days, you’ll need to call Capital One’s travel line at 844-527-6779 for cancellation assistance.

    Chase Travel

    Chase is rather lax when it comes to point refunds on cancellations. According to the Chase site, “If a refund is granted for travel booked in whole or in part with points, you’ll receive a credit to your points balance for the amount of points used.”

    Chase allows you to cancel bookings directly from the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, so you should receive your points shortly after cancellation. But you’ll forfeit your points if you don’t show your travel arrangements.

    Note that Chase is relying on travel partners for cancellation or rebooking waivers. That means if your airline isn’t waiving a cancellation fee, Chase won’t cover the extra charge. You can cancel or reschedule your bookings through Chase’s COVID-19 resource page.

    Amex Travel

    Like Chase, Amex allows you to directly cancel bookings on its Membership Rewards site. Unlike Chase, Amex only refunds bookings in statement credits, even if you paid with points.

    Amex also relies on partner policies for fee waivers, but does offer a waiver on flight modifications made through Amex Travel. According to Amex’s coronavirus resource page:

    “If you booked your travel with American Express Travel and you need to change/cancel a booking, we’ll be honoring our airline, hotel, cruise, and car partners’ travel policies. As an additional measure, we’ll waive the American Express Travel fee on flight modifications made now through March 31, 2021.”

    To cancel or reschedule your Amex travel plans, head to Amex’s travel alert page.

    Bottom line

    With coronavirus protections throwing a wrench into travel, airlines are making it easier to cancel or reschedule without losing your points or paying a fee. Make sure to check each airline’s COVID-19 travel policies for further instructions on canceling or rescheduling your flight.

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