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Choice adds flexible policy on new bookings.
Airbnb extends free cancellation window for existing bookings through August.
Marriott reduces flexible policy.
Radisson extends its flexible policy on new bookings through the summer, for travel at any time.
Airbnb extends free cancellation window for existing bookings through July.
Hilton extends free cancellation window through August.
Hyatt extends flexible window for both existing and new bookings.
IHG replaced flexible policy with new refundable rate.
As the COVID-19 virus continues to disrupt travel for the foreseeable future, hotel and vacation rental brands are offering flexible change and cancellation policies, similar to those offered by airlines.
These policies are evolving and expanding by the day, so make sure to check the hotel brand website for the latest information.
Nerd tip: “Free” change policies don't apply to the difference in cost between two reservations. For example, if your original reservation cost $100 and your new reservation is $150, you will still owe the $50 difference, but you won't owe any additional change fees. Also, if you used a third-party travel agency like Orbitz or Hotels.com to book, you will likely need to call that company (instead of the hotel brand) to change or cancel your booking.
» Learn More: How to find the best travel insurance
Airbnb offers a blanket free-cancellation policy for all bookings made before March 14, 2020, for reservations starting on or before Aug. 31, 2020.
However, new reservations (made after March 14, 2020) are not covered, unlike most hotel policies.
Best Western previously offered a flexible booking policy on new and existing bookings, but As of July 16, 2020, the chain has not extended this policy. Make sure to check its website before booking.
Choice has added a flexible policy for both new and existing bookings, after lagging the competition throughout the spring. Currently, this policy only applies to new bookings made on or after July 10, 2020.
New bookings made on or after July 10, 2020, with arrival dates through Sept. 30, 2020, can be changed or canceled without incurring fees.
Hilton has issued generous, blanket change/cancellation policies for both new and existing bookings through the summer.
Existing bookings: All reservations made before March 12, 2020 can be changed or canceled until Aug. 31, 2020, without fees.
New bookings: All new bookings made until Aug. 31, 2020, for travel at any time, can be changed or canceled up to 24 hours before check-in for free.
This flexibility applies to all bookings, including "non-cancellable" advanced purchase rates.
Hyatt has offered flexible bookings throughout the pandemic, including its current policy which covers all new bookings for travel through mid-2021.
New bookings: All reservations made after July 1, 2020, for travel until July 31, 2021 (next year) can be changed or canceled 24 hours before check-in without incurring a fee.
Hyatt has added some caveats to the new-booking policy, noting that some properties might suspend it during high-demand times such as holidays. Make sure to check the policy on your specific reservation before hitting "book."
World of Hyatt has also suspended its planned award chart changes until 2021. This is likely good news for those looking to use Hyatt points this year.
Early in the pandemic, The Holiday Inn brand offered a flexible cancellation policy similar to other programs. However, IHG has now replaced this simple policy with a much more complicated one, including a "book now, pay later" rate that is effectively fully refundable. In other words, if you're looking for flexibility, choose the "book now, pay later" option, even if it is more expensive than advanced purchase rates.
Marriott initially introduced a broad, generous change/cancellation policy on all new and existing bookings, but has added some limitations.
Existing bookings: All previous reservations will retain the original cancellation policy for that booking. That is, if free cancellations were not allowed when booking, they are still not allowed.
New bookings (after July 6, 2020) for travel through Sept. 31, 2020, can be changed or cancelled within 24 hours of checkin without fees.
After lagging through much of the spring, Radisson now offers one of the most flexible policies for new bookings.
Existing bookings made before April 1, 2020 for travel through Aug. 31, 2020, can be changed or cancelled without fees.
New bookings made until Aug. 31, 2020, for travel at any time can be changed or canceled in the future without fees.
All changes must be made at least 24 hours before check-in.
The vacation rental brand VRBO has not yet offered any clear cancellation policy but has punted the responsibility to its hosts. Its policy suggests that those hoping to cancel bookings should "contact the property owner or manager to discuss their cancellation and refund policies."
Wyndham initially allowed free changes and cancellations on new and existing bookings, but as of July 16, 2020, it had not extended these policies.
Check out our additional resources on navigating the coronavirus outbreak: How to prepare your house, mind and bank account Coronavirus travel guide: Choose your own (re)booking adventure What you should know about the European travel ban