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Weird but true – Hilton non-refundable rooms ARE refundable in the US, Mexico and Caribbean

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Yes, this is a weird one but it is a trick you may find useful one day.

Non-refundable Hilton hotel rooms ARE refundable in certain countries.

This originally came up pre-covid when a reader dropped me a note to say that he had been forced to cancel a non-refundable reservation at a Hilton in the US.  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.

Hilton non-refundable hotel rooms ARE refundable in the US, Mexico and Caribbean

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 was repaid to him as promised.

Hilton non-refundable hotel rooms ARE refundable in the US, Mexico and Caribbean

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

You might think that this makes no sense.  However, if you try to book a pre-paid room at a US hotel you will see this in the rate rules:

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.

PS. Our full guide to earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards is here

How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Hilton Honors points and status from UK credit cards (April 2024)

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 Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable 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 with:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Hilton points is 1:2.

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 (17)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    I’ve not booked an advance purchase rate in the US or Mexico. When you book these rates who takes the money? Does the original hotel take the money or is it taken by Hilton reservations? When I’ve needed to change advance bookings in Europe where the hotel takes the payment I’ve had a good success rate by contacting the hotel and they’ve made the change or in some cases refund without hassle. In my case it might have helped that I had stayed in the hotels I’ve needed to change/cancel before. But the point is it never hurts to ask. Just be aware of the rules and so if they stick to them don’t be rude or disappointed.

    • His Holyness says:

      It works this way because in the mentioned markets, Hilton charge the card directly and hold the funds themselves until it’s time for the stay.

  • Jake says:

    What’s the reason behind this being certain regions?

    If Hilton thought it was valuable surely it would be global which means is there something regulatory or different about the typical booking?

  • Ryan says:

    On the contrary, can I also offer some cautionary advice to always check the cancellation policy when booking a room using points in the UK. I made a redemption booking late one evening to secure the room as I was unsure of my travel plans for March 2024 and to my horror, realised the booking was non changeable/refundable! I have never ever come across this policy before when using points.

    Thankfully I noticed this almost immediately after booking and the hotel agreed to cancel the following morning. The thought of losing 100,000 HH points was not a nice one…

    • The real Swiss Tony says:

      Variation on a theme – I booked the Hampton in Newcastle on a Saturday night using points. The small print stated that the rate was refundable, but a no-show would be charged the cash rate, which was somewhat eye-watering at the time.

    • No longer Entitled says:

      I’ve stumbled across this a few times. Cancellation rules applied to points bookings are uncommon but not rare. I always check now out of habit.

      • Ryan says:

        And going forward, so will I!

        Just to add to this, I immediately called the HH contact centre to cancel the room and they advised couldn’t help and I had to contact the hotel directly.

        Needless to say, approaching midnight there was no one available at the hotel to make the decision and I was to call the back the following morning. Which only added to my stress…

      • John says:

        Around the time of any large event points bookings are likely to be non refundable, such as the world cup or Eurovision

    • YC says:

      I had to rearrange some hotel stays where I was outside the points cancellation window. Hilton had to call the hotel to check if they were happy to cancel the booking while Marriott could do it by themselves and mentioned its much easier for them to manage the booking given its on points and not cash.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    I booked a Hilton UK property on an advanced purchase rate and for some reason it went through twice. First time I didn’t enter the Amex 6 digit code. So I ended up with 2 booked. Web chat useless as Advanced Booking, need to call. Called up, said it’s an advanced booking and they tried the hotel. No joy and I’d need to contact the hotel directly. So I called them and they agreed to cancel the non refundable room. I also asked why my card wasn’t charged yet (for either booking). They said they would charge now for my booking (in June). This morning I had my Amex confirmation of my rebate 🙂 Win Win.

  • ee says:

    Personally I would tread carefully here: it says this “ *may* be permitted “ and further down “ for a cancellation and rebooking to be *considered* “

    If you’re already facing this situation with a non refundable booking then it’s a great card to try and play.

    However, the wording suggestions Hilton would be within their rights to consider your request and not permit it. Whether they would routinely do this or only if someone did it X times or over Y value I have no idea. But it certainly reads that it’s not a guaranteed benefit.

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