Hyatt Guest Charged $11,212 After Cancelling An Award Stay 58 Days In Advance

I’ve written about the risk you run booking an award stay with Hyatt or Marriott, that if you cancel after the cancellation deadline (say, for instance, your flight is cancelled) you don’t lose your points – you lose a cash forfeiture amount instead.

And your cash penalty can be really high. I once helped a guest avoid a $7000 charge for an award stay they cancelled six months in advance. They booked the stay a year out but it was completely non-refundable, something that hadn’t been disclosed to them at the time of booking.

Most people think you lose your points if you make a points reservation and fail to cancel by the deadline. But that’s not how it works. Here’s a story of a guest that’s being charged $11,212.50 when they went to cancel a reservation at Hyatt’s Montaneros in Vail, Destination Residence. The hotel had a policy requiring cancellation within 60 days of the stay, and it was 58 days prior to check-in when the guest called.

Hyatt’s program terms say that the guest will be charged cash and their points will be returned if they fail to cancel a reservation by the hotel’s deadline,

If a Member does not follow the proper cancellation policy for the applicable hotel or resort or if a Member does not check into the hotel or resort when scheduled, the credit card provided with the Award Reservation will be charged in accordance with the hotel’s or resort’s cancellation or no-show policy and any points redeemed for the applicable Award Reservation will be returned to the Member’s account.

However nowhere during the booking process are you ever told how much money that will be. And even after booking, Hyatt’s confirmation emails do not tell you how much money is at risk.

On one confirmation I consulted I saw a cancel penalty of “50 PCT OF STAY” – but the cost of my ‘stay’ was 90,000 points, which certainly seemed to suggest the penalty would be 45,000 rather than thousands of dollars.

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.

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 (you could choose). Both Hyatt’s and Marriott’s programs are run by ex-Starwood people.

If you’re ever in this position you’re better off keeping the stay, call and see if the hotel will be flexible. I’ve had a hotel waive their penalty. They were happy to get the room back to sell for cash instead of taking the points compensation. A hotel might also be willing to let you reschedule, if not completely cancel.

However if the hotel isn’t flexible, and you’re going to be charged for cancellation, don’t cancel! You might be able to find someone to take the reservation off of your hands. Just add them as a second guest name on the reservation. And if you can’t find someone to stay at the property, you might be able to pay someone less than the forfeiture amount to check in for you, avoiding the need to mortgage your home.

Update: A Hyatt spokesperson offers,

Please know this is not the experience we want for our guests and valued World of Hyatt members and take feedback like this very seriously. We have communicated with this guest and the property will be processing a full refund. We are also examining the cancellation policy terms and conditions language for Destination Residences properties.

Hopefully they’ll reconsider their approach and allow members to simply forfeit points in the event of late cancellation, and that this will apply across all of their brands.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Rather than cancel short-notice and face a penalty. Move then reservation to a later date. Then a couple days later cancel it (still ahead of the short-term cancellation window).

  2. This feels like an easily won lawsuit. Did the room sit open the whole time or did they resell it for the same amount and ended up doubling their revenue? And like someone else mentioned: why can’t you just remotely check in and never show up? It’s absolutely a scam they think they can get away with because no one has complained yet.

  3. Luke said “I think another solution might be putting in a fake cc number when making the award booking (think at least marriott doesn’t verify) or otherwise using a prepaid gift card…”

    I am a very frequent Marriott guest. Every time I check in, a) debit cards are not accepted, credit cards only; and b) the credit card is immediately tested and a hold is placed for double the amount to be paid.

  4. @Doug Jensen,

    “Every time I check in”, your talking about when you check in, when you know you have already physically reached the hotel 🙂

    Is it checked at the time of making award reservation months in advance if its a debit or a credit card, and whether its even a valid card? I tried a test for a booking a Marriott in London later this year using invalid CC number and it worked!

  5. The amount charged is what the nightly rate is going for at the time of cancellation. As the rates can change daily – there is not a set amount to advise a guest when booking. It’s a risk you have to be willing to take as no one knows what the rate will be on a certain date when the change is made, not even the hotel.

  6. @Doug Jensen – you wouldn’t be checking in. Regardless with few exceptions debit cards are accepted nowadays. Prepaid generally are not though. All need is a valid number for card. Doesn’t need to “work.”

    @Bob – that’s the legal issue. You can’t just say it’ll be some undisclosed, random amount. The person entering the contract needs to have been informed for the terms to be enforceable.

  7. Worked in hotels for too long some time back…..yes I escaped.

    One trick a lot of guests used when no showing or after they damaged rooms was to report the card stolen. Boom immediately the card can’t be charged and they would have to take you to court, but the chance of them doing that is quite small.

  8. My hubby & I are seniors who were going to Atlanta to do the Hot Chocolate 5K. We arranged a room at Embassy Suites near the start at Centennial Olympic Park. Due to getting over Covid we cancelled our run & stay, We booked with Priceline & were told we’d be charged $198.00!! A full night’s stay! Even though cancelling more than a week ahead!! This has never happened to us before-especially cancelling more than 48 hrs ahead!! We will book hotel direct from now on & not use booking services such as Priceline!! As a veteran on fixed income -this is beyond outrageous!!

  9. Could give to retired person like me that loves to travel
    Would omit being charged an outrageous amount of cash.
    Perhaps there could be a site for this

  10. A reasonable policy then may be to charge the customer the cash rate for the room based upon the published rate on the day the booking was made.

  11. One trick to avoid this is to push the reservation beyond the 60 day threshold, confirm your reservation, then cancel.

  12. 3 things you can do to protect yourself from those types of extorsion.

    1) call the hotel manager as soon as you know you have to cancel to postpone the reservation way later, then you are within the timeframe to cancel without penalties.

    2) If you can be in that situation use a low-limit credit card or a single-use card number to prevent the hotel to be able to charge you that.

    3) Most tech-savvy hotels allow online check-in and check-out, I use it every time I can, so you can check in from the other side of the world to avoid the no-show.

  13. Sherry Lazzaro…. That penalty you were charged was from the hotel, not Priceline.. Had you booked on Priceline with another hotel the policy would have been different. Had you booked directly with the same hotel, odds are the penalty would have been the same.

  14. Caution – providing fake cc number may be viewed as identity theft and/or fraud. Furthermore it is probably provided via phone or computer and traversing state lines, so entering federal jurisdiction.

    If the company has the morals to impose these kinds of penalties then they may likewise utilize the criminal law to seek retribution for false info.

    I’m not an attorney, this is not legal advice, just a suggestion to seek legal advice if this is your planned course of action.

  15. I see. Thank you for getting back to me. Sounds like we’re probably stuck for the $198. “There’s no such thing as a stupid mistake. The only stupid mistake is the one you didn’t learn from.-Mark Twain-“ I wade thru the fine print on future bookings. Your site was recommended by a friend who travels frequently for business. Thanks again. S.L.

  16. Sorry, you can’t move a Hyatt reservation to a later date. It must be cancelled and rebooked. That also opens up problems regarding award availability, etc. I booked a hotel with points and tried to reduce the stay by one night months in advance. The problem was that the hotel had been upgraded to a higher category since I booked it. The shorter stay would have cost more points than the original stay, so I just left the room a day early without checking out.

    This is also why I can’t book the HR Louisville for the Kentucky Derby with points. The cash rates are “all-inclusive” with a party for guests, track transfers, etc included. So a no-show (like if my flight was cancelled) will cost $2,500-3,000 per night, 3 night minimum.

  17. @NSRO & SHERRY – Priceline hotel bookings can be non-refundable & non-changeable. Did you “bid” for the rate or was it an offered rate?
    .The 1st is penalty by Priceline, latter a hotel penalty.

    Regardless they do make this clear.

  18. I didn’t bid on the rate. I Googled hotels near Centennial Olympic Park & chose Embassy Suites thru a partnership between & I’ve now successfully cancelled the room & will just watch my card statement as to whether the large fee is charged or waived. They were very polite & the process was simple. Thanks for the input. S.L.

  19. That’s why I been at IHG PLATINUM FOR 20 years and I love it.
    INTERCONTINENTAL it’s good for me

  20. It is very simple: do not use Hyatt. I had them try the same thing with me. I had to dispute the charge to get my money back. The policy was not disclosed when i booked on expedia. I uave learned after bad experiebces with airbnb and more to just not bother traveling for liesure. It is not worth the stress.

  21. “The hotel had a policy requiring cancellation within 60 days of the stay, and it was 58 days prior to check-in when the guest called.”
    58 days is within 60 days. Is the policy actually that they must cancel 60 or more days before their stay?

Comments are closed.