Marriott hasn’t exactly been killing it with good loyalty program news lately, to say the least. This week, though, we learned of an unpublished and very customer-friendly benefit that Marriott provides to certain elite members, at least in some situations – the ability to cancel a reservation after the cancellation deadline without being charged a fee.
We’ll take you through the situation we encountered this week as a Titanium member and how Marriott handled it, then provide some additional color and advice on using this unpublished and potentially quite valuable benefit.
Standard Marriott Cancellation Policy
Since June 15, 2017, the standard Marriott cancellation policy is that guests are required to cancel their room reservation 48 hours prior to arrival in order to avoid a cancellation fee:
Of course, the cancellation terms on any particular reservation may be different. Resorts and high-end properties may require cancellation much further in advance. For example, we had a reservation at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas that required cancellation 31 days in advance. In addition, high-demand periods may also cause Marriott properties to impose stricter cancellation deadlines. For instance, when we were looking at possible hotels for the college football national championship game near the stadium, many of them had longer advance cancellation periods. In particular, I recall a Residence Inn that required cancellation 14 days in advance.
Always be sure to check the cancellation terms for your specific reservation.
Our Data Point from This Week – Free Cancellation for a Titanium Member at a Residence Inn
I am a Titanium elite member, and several weeks ago I made a reservation at the Residence Inn Seattle University District. This reservation had the standard Marriott cancellation deadline, which required cancellations to be made 2 days in advance, or else a cancellation fee would be charged. The reservation was for 2 nights, and it was made using a corporate rate.
The day before the stay was to begin – that is, one day after the cancellation deadline had passed – I was looking up some parking information on the hotel website and happened to check rates. It turned out that the rate had dropped for the type of room we booked. Over our 2-night stay, the new rate would be about $70 less than what we’d originally booked.
I decided to call the Marriott Titanium customer service line (800-399-4229) to see if they’d help me cancel and re-book at the lower rate. To my surprise, I was connected quickly to a friendly and helpful agent.
I explained the situation to her, being completely up front that I would like to cancel and re-book at the lower rate, and that I understood that I was past the cancellation deadline but hoped she could help me. She immediately responded that I could cancel the existing reservation with no fee as a Titanium member, even though I’m past the cancellation deadline.
While we were on the phone, I made a new reservation online at the lower rate. (The agent would have done this, but for some reason she couldn’t see availability at the corporate rate on her end.) Once she could see my new reservation, she proceeded to cancel my original reservation without a cancellation fee. She kind of talked her way through the process – added a code, then applied an override and put a note on the reservation, something like this: W6 Cancel, Titanium Member, booked new reservation at lower rate.
The no-fee post-deadline cancellation appears to have been successful. I received an email confirming the cancellation almost immediately, and I have not seen any charges on the credit card that was attached to the canceled reservation.
It may also be worth noting that I do not believe the no-fee post-deadline cancellation required me to be making a new reservation.
- Reservation at Residence Inn with 2-day cancellation deadline
- Titanium elite member
- Called 1 day before stay
- Able to cancel without a cancellation fee
I’d also note that I had a conversation with another Marriott rep several months ago (pre-Bonvoy launch, when my status was “Platinum Premier”) where the agent told me that she’d be able to cancel a reservation for me after the cancellation deadline without a fee because I was a “Platinum” member. Remembering this prior conversation was part of what motivated me to give it a shot this time to see if Marriott would be willing to let me cancel and re-book without a fee.
After completing my own cancel-and-re-book data point, I did some quick research to look further into this subject. In general, it seems like the ability for high elite members get no-fee post-deadline cancellations is an unpublished benefit.
Here’s a short-but-informative FlyerTalk thread from just this week on this very subject:
From the thread and from our own experience from the first call, we suspect that this unpublished benefit may apply to Platinum members as well as Titanium (and Ambassador) members.
Caveats and Limitations
The FlyerTalk (FT) thread and our own set of experiences and common sense lead us to some likely caveats and limitations on these no-fee post-deadline cancellations:
- There are some reports that no-fee post-deadline cancellations are only available up to 6:00 pm local time, day of arrival – but there are also data points of people being given no-fee cancellations even later than that, particularly if there are extenuating circumstances such as irregular operations.
- One FT commenter noted that apparently Marriott keeps track of these cancellations and it can be denied if abused.
- There are some DPs where the Marriott agent had to reach out the particular hotel to get permission to issue a no-fee post-deadline cancellation. (This did not happen in our personal DP this week. It may make a difference that our situation involved a Residence Inn and a reservation with a standard 2-day cancellation deadline, as opposed to a high-end resort and/or a non-standard deadline.)
- Generally, FT commenters seem to believe that you’re more likely to be successful with a no-fee post-deadline cancellation request at a “normal” and/or business-centric property than at a high-end resort.
- One FT commenter said he had success at the W Paris.
- Some FT commenters speculated that a no-fee post-deadline cancellation would be unlikely at places like Maldives resorts, St. Regis Aspen during ski season, and a New Year’s Eve hot-spot destination with a 75-day cancellation deadline.
- It’s suggested that lower-tier and non-elite members may receive consideration for no-fee post-deadline cancellations too, if there are truly exigent circumstances and you call to explain.
- One FT commenter suggested that when you cancel, ask Marriott customer service or the hotel to remove your credit card from the canceled reservation, so that there’s nothing to charge, thereby reducing the chance that you receive a mistaken charge for the cancellation after-the-fact.
We hope that you’ve found this article useful. Marriott hasn’t been in the best graces with us lately, but we were very happy to be treated well and save a little money with this very customer-friendly benefit.
Do you have additional insight, tips or data points on no-fee post-deadline cancellations with Marriott? If so, please share with us and other Middle Age Miles readers in the Comments!
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