Although some countries are slowly opening up for tourism as the coronavirus pandemic ebbs and flows around the world, constantly changing entry restrictions can create a risk for travelers booking non-refundable trips. Luckily, many airlines and hotels are offering loosened change and cancellation policies to make it easier for travelers to modify their plans.
But what if you’ve booked your trip with Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ points? Can you still get a full refund? If so, will you get your points back or a voucher? Here’s what you need to know about canceling trips booked through the Chase travel portal.
Scenario 1: Booked flight with cash or points through Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ
When you purchase a flight with cash, Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ points or a combination of both, your refund options will depend on your travel dates as well as Chase’s, and the carrier’s cancellation policy.
Flights on or prior to Aug. 31, 2020
If the airline is waiving cancellation fees and the flight is on or prior to Aug. 31, 2020, you can cancel the flight by selecting it from the “My Trips” section within your account and either speak with a Chase representative through the live chat feature or complete Chase’s cancellation form. The form can only be accessed once you’re logged in to your account, and you will need your Chase itinerary number (11-15 characters included in your booking), along with the email address and phone number attached to your reservation.
Although calling customer service is an option, hold times can vary — so if your cancellation is straightforward, you’d be better off canceling your trip online.
Flights after Aug. 31, 2020
Chase has not provided any guidance for flights after Aug. 31, 2020. If you need to cancel a flight after this date, Chase advises that you check back at a later date (likely due to the constantly changing airline rules). However, if your flight is near the cutoff date or you have a specific circumstance you need assistance with, you can reach out to customer service. If you experience long hold times, try reaching out to Chase on Twitter.
If I cancel my reservation, will I get my points back?
Generally, you should receive a refund in the original form of payment, but the evidence has been mixed. This Reddit thread has differing reports from multiple people, ranging from receiving a refund in points or flight credits/vouchers. Some have reported initially receiving vouchers, but escalating the issue and then getting Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ points back instead.
The situation is likely dependent on an airline’s policy. If the airline is offering flight vouchers, it may be difficult to receive a full refund in points from Chase (as opposed to a scenario in which the airline offers cash-back in the form of payment). If you’re not happy with the refund option you’ve received, try escalating the issue by contacting customer service at 1-888-511-5326 or reaching out to Chase on Twitter.
Scenario 2: Transferred points to an airline or hotel
If you’ve transferred your Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ points to a hotel or airline, and then made a reservation that you need to change or cancel, you’ll need to deal directly with the carrier rather than Chase. All point transfers from Chase to its airline and hotels partners are irreversible, so you will not get your Chase Ultimate RewardsⓇ points back if you cancel your reservation. Any cancellations or changes made will be bound by the airline or hotel’s cancellation policy.
On the bright side, many airlines and hotels have loosened their policies due to COVID, so there’s a higher likelihood that canceling a reservation will result in a refund of your airline or hotel points back to your loyalty account.
Can travel insurance help?
Travel insurance can help get your money back if you need to cancel a nonrefundable ticket for a covered reason, such as an illness, natural disaster or other extenuating circumstances.
Some travel insurance companies specifically exclude pandemics from coverage, which would nullify any claims made related to coronavirus since it was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization on Mar. 11, 2020. Other providers do not have a pandemic exclusion at all. Furthermore, insurance options vary by state, so you’ll want to review the fine print of your policy before purchasing to ensure you get the coverage you’re looking for.
However, canceling your flight because you’re afraid of contracting coronavirus is not a covered reason. In instances like this, you’d want to look into a "Cancel For Any Reason" (CFAR) travel insurance optional add-on, which will allow you to cancel a trip for truly any reason and provide a 50%-75% refund as long as you cancel at least two days in advance. CFAR is offered by some insurers as a supplemental upgrade when purchasing a comprehensive travel insurance policy, and it cannot be purchased on its own.
» Learn more: Does my travel insurance cover the coronavirus?
The bottom line
Traveling now carries with it a higher degree of uncertainty than ever before. To save yourself heartache, get familiar with Chase’s and the carrier’s cancellation policies. If you’re planning a trip months away and want the option of canceling for any reason, consider purchasing the CFAR supplement when buying a travel insurance policy to ensure you receive a refund if you need to postpone your trip.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card