Weird but true – Hilton hotel non-refundable 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.

Conrad New York Midtown

How to earn Hilton Honors points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, 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, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and Melia Rewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

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  1. Mikeact says:

    My son in law realised this last year when he and his family were on a US road trip. The Hilton’s were booked in the UK, but they realised that their daily timings were way out. He called Hilton’s for advice on cancelling/changing etc., and was totally surprised to be told he could have a lot of his money back. So he spread them out more sensibly which Hilton were happy about .

  2. Cuchlainn says:

    Asked last week but not answered – Amex Platinum HHonors Status :
    OH is main account holder and I am supplrmentary – I registered and have Gold HH status but cannot get same for her. Amex tell me to go to Hilton and Hilton say only 1 party per Amex Olat account can have automatic status. Is this correct ?

    • Bigsi says:

      Don’t think so. My OH and I both have gold status with AMEX plat under the same circumstances you describe.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      So did you register the main and supp separately online, access benefits on each account and put in each person’s HH number, and your OH’s hasn’t worked? Did the other statuses work? Could you have entered the number incorrectly?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      They are probably Corey but you and you OH have a Plat account each since you both have different logins and different card numbers.

      Tbh I wouldn’t complicate it but talking to Hilton about supplementary cards, this isn’t their business.

      Your OH has a plat and wants the gold status she is entitled to.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        * correct not Corey.

        Anyone that holds a Platinum card (main account or Supp) is entitled to all the status match benefits.

        • the_real_a says:

          Exactly. Wife needs to create her own Login/Password and register her supp card under that login. Then apply for the status and any other status in the usual way.

  3. Robert says:

    Very Interesting, thanks Rob!

  4. I wonder if this works for points bookings? I have a 240,000 stay in the USA in early April which has a 60 day cancellation! I booked within the 60 day period and still have every intention to stay. However if travel becomes more difficult I would like to have the option to pull things and rebook another time.

    • the_real_a says:

      Hilton points bookings are generally cancellable until 12 midnight the day before arrival ?? I chop and change all the time, and always receive a full refund.

  5. Thought this was common knowledge. Found this out last summer when we did USA tour

  6. Have always been able to cancel non cancellable rates. Helps having status….

  7. Interesting wee trick, handy to know!

    • Genghis says:

      +1. I didn’t know this after quite a few years in the game. Thanks HfP. (I need to read those terms in a bit more detail)

  8. Alex W says:

    Does this work for ‘special event’ dates when even ‘flexible’ bookings are non-refundable?

  9. 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?

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

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