If you book an award stay and your flight diverts on the way to your vacation, and you can’t check in as scheduled, call your mortgage broker for a second or third lien on your house – quick!
Hyatt, like Marriott, charges you cash in an undisclosed amount (rather than points) if you have to cancel an award trip inside of the cancellation deadline for your stay.
Starwood Preferred Guest used to have a friendlier feature where you’d choose the cash forfeiture or just to lose the points you used to book the stay which is what most people assume they’re on the hook for anyway.
Three years ago I wrote about the St. Regis Aspen charging points guests $1000 a night for cancelling reservations within 60 days of arrival. Even customers whose flights were delayed or diverted, and showed up the next day, were getting hit with $1000 charges for their missed nights. $2000 has to be a record, though.
- When a guest doesn’t stay on an award, the program doesn’t pay them for the award stay
- The hotel instead goes back to the guest to charge them a forfeiture instead
I’ve also written about Hyatt’s Andaz Papagayo in Costa Rica, which has non-cancelable rates during certain peak periods. Since those rules apply to paid stays, they also apply to awards. One guest booked nearly a year in advance, several months later needed to cancel, and was surprised by a $7000 cancellation fee. I brought the issue to Hyatt’s attention and they intervened to reverse these charges. However the policy remains in place.
I recently booked a hotel through my Hyatt concierge where I didn’t realize there was a 30 day cancellation policy at play. The concierge didn’t mention it, though it was included in the email after booking. My plans were disrupted, and I went to cancel a week out. They let me know there’d be a charge of 50% of the paid rate to cancel my award.
- I do think it’s a good idea for agents to call out non-standard cancellation policies when making a booking. I assumed this hotel had a standard cancel policy, since nothing else was mentioned.
- I made the reservation about 45 days in advance of travel, but if it had been within 30 days of travel then reading the email alone would have been too late – I’d have learned the booking was non-cancellable only after having made it.
- The confirmation email does not actually mention a cash penalty. Instead it says the penalty is “50 PCT OF STAY” but the ‘stay’ cost was 90,000 points. I could see a 45,000 point penalty, based on that confirmation, but I do not see how cash forfeiture could be possible since no cash amount is even mentioned in the confirmation.
- And nowhere during the booking process, no matter how you make a reservation, nor in the email confirmation is there ever any mention of an actual cash amount you’d be charged to cancel.
Cash forfeiture for cancelling too close to arrival, or for missing a trip for reasons beyond your control, is both an unnecessarily customer-unfriendly policy and so poorly disclosed that I do not see how it can even be enforced. Hyatt needs to be better than Marriott here, and substitute the cash forfeiture with points forfeiture for failing to cancel a trip within the allowable window.
Fortunately after I pushed back on the charge my Hyatt concierge relayed that she spoke to the property and they waived it. I wasn’t looking at a four figure cash forfeiture on a three night stay. I’d have been far more understanding of being charged 50% of the points for the cancel, however that wasn’t requested.
I believe Hyatt has the best hotel loyalty program – by several orders of magnitude. However there are ways it can still improve. This policy is one of them. Their concierge program could be improved and so can their free nights.