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Weird but true – Hilton non-refundable hotel rooms ARE refundable in the US

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Yes, this is a weird one.

It turns our that non-refundable Hilton hotel rooms ARE refundable in certain countries.

A reader dropped me a note last week to say that he had been forced to cancel a non-refundable reservation at a Hilton in Florida for family reasons.  It was a four night stay costing $1,707.

He was resigned to losing the full sum but called Hilton anyway.  He was then told something odd.

If he booked – whilst on the telephone – a non-refundable room for just one night at ANY other Hilton property in the US, his original booking was fully refundable less a $50 administration fee.

Our reader found an obscure Hampton Inn charging $69 plus taxes, for a total of $81.  This was a one-night booking.  He obviously had no intention of showing up.

Hilton then agreed to refund his entire $1,707, less the $50 fee and less the $81 cost of the Hampton Inn booking.  He was getting a 93% refund on his non-refundable room. 

The money has already been repaid to him, so we know this really works.

Refund on a Hilton advanced purchase room

Can you really get a refund on non-refundable Hilton hotel bookings?

You might think that this makes no sense.  However, we pulled up the cancellation rules for Advanced Purchase rooms:

Modification of Reservation:Price quoted applies to exact date(s)/nights/stay booked. Modifications to your reservation (including but not limited to name changes, date changes, etc.) are not permitted. However, for bookings in the United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, a request to cancel an existing Advance Purchase/Non-Refundable reservation and book a new reservation may be permitted if at the time you are requesting a change to your reservation, you book a new Advance Purchase/Non Refundable reservation at any hotel in the Hilton portfolio located in the United States, Mexico or the Caribbean, subject to availability.

Upon receipt of full payment for the new reservation, Hilton will issue a refund for the cancelled reservation, less a service fee. It may take up to four (4) weeks for the refund to be reflected on your credit card. For stays originally booked at the Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Embassy Suites or Doubletree brand hotels, the service fee is $50.00 and for stays originally booked at a Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites, the service fee is $25.00. For a cancellation and rebooking to be considered, you must call our Advance Purchase Department to request a change to your reservation at (800) 236-7113 or (972) 726-3361 no less than three days prior to your scheduled check-in date.

Hilton was totally correct in what it did.  Our reader had been charged the correct $50 cancellation fee and had correctly booked a non-refundable stay at another Hilton in the US.

I’m not sure that this guarantee means that you should book an Advanced Purchase rate even if you think that cancellation may happen.  The $50 fee and the cost of booking another Hilton property would, on a smaller booking, still be a substantial part of what you had originally paid.  It was only a great result for our reader because he had booked four nights at an expensive property.

Still, at least you now know that there is no need to take a 100% loss on any Hilton booking in the US, Mexico or Caribbean.

How to earn Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards (July 2021)

There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.

You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly via American Express Gold, the American Express Rewards Credit Card and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold and Business Platinum.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Hilton Honors points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (33)

  • Kieran says:

    Does Hilton recognise the Gold status if you booked with a 3rd party? I have a week in a Hilton in the US next month and didn’t know if it was worth getting an Amex Platinum for free breakfast each day or whether I am wasting my time?

  • RussC says:

    Yes & No. Stayed at Conrad Algarve last month while Hilton Gold booked through BA Holidays.. Gave the ‘perks’ but not the nights stay to keep status.

  • PaulC says:

    When is the next Hilton Sale? I have hotels to book for Dubai and Singapore in Sept/Oct and Dubai for New Year.

    • Rob says:

      They just pulled one. I doubt they are going to waste money advertising a sale (and they do spend a lot of money advertising sales, including with us) whilst no-one is booking.

      Worth noting that whilst Dubai is officially coronavirus free, the school where my sister-in-law works has just had to close down for a month ….

      • PaulC says:

        We aren’t particularly worried, we were in Hong Kong when it all kicked off in January. Cheap holidays I see it as.

  • Nick says:

    Any way to get hold of large numbers of Hilton points? I know Amex MR is an option.

    Also is it worth using 30,000 Hilton points for a stay that would cost around £120.


    • Rob says:

      Based on my usual 0.33p valuation I’d use points, yes.

    • John says:

      Depends on the number of points you are forfeiting by not paying the £120. As Diamond you would earn about 2600 points, plus some credit card points, so it would be marginal for me.

      If there was a double or triple points promo I wouldn’t redeem, based on the fact that it’s quite likely I will have a stay where I can redeem at a better value within a few months.

      However remember that redemptions also count for status and stay-/night-based promos (like the current one) which is a point in favour of redeeming at this leve.

  • Enrique Chavez says:

    What about Hilton in Japan?,please let me know

    • Peter K says:

      Have a look at the “rate rules” and it will tell you.

  • Sadat Sayeed says:

    What about if you booked the room through BA? Can you go direct to Hilton to do this cancel and rebook or must you go back to try and do it through BA?

  • aceman says:

    OT now that the spa card has changed to the marriott card, has anyone had the 15 night credit applied automatically to their account? Nothing in mine yet, is it supposed to be automatic, or do we have to do something?

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