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How to Avoid Last-Minute Hotel Cancellation Fees

A genius hack for not getting charged when you need to cancel a hotel room at the last minute.

Canceling your hotel reservations at the last minute just got a lot cheaper, thanks to a clever scheduling trick. TikTok user @therealmelaninking posted a viral video laying out how travelers can skirt a hotel cancellation fee for late changes, saving you money and peace of mind if the occasion ever arises.

"Hotels do not want you to know this secret," the video starts off. The TikTok user shares a role-play scenario where he pretends to call a hotel to cancel his reservation, only to be told that he'd get hit with a $300 cancelation fee since it's less than 24 hours before the designated check-in time.


Do not stay at a hotel, until you learned this secret hack on how you can save tons of money when booking a hotel #hotel#lifehacks#savemoneytips#booking#greenscreen

♬ original sound – Melaninking | Finance Coach

Hotel cancellation policies differ from property to property. Most will offer guests the chance to cancel for free up to 48 hours before their arrival, with some allowing for as little as one day before depending on the policy. After those time frames, hotels will charge a fee for canceling, anything from a small penalty or as much as the equivalent of one night's stay, according to Little Hotelier, a property management software company.

"A booking cancellation policy serves two main functions," the site adds. "It holds guests accountable and ensures that they only book a hotel room when they actually intend to stay… It helps to reduce the number of no-shows, ensuring that a hotel doesn't lose too much revenue from avoidable vacancies."

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Life happens though, and travel plans can change at the last minute for a variety of reasons. A $300 charge can be a big financial hit, especially if a guest isn't able to take advantage of the hotel for their original purpose.

Luckily, this content creator shared a little-known hack to avoid these fees—it simply requires the guest to move their reservation to a later date.

"Can I change my arrival date to next week instead?" the role-play continues.

"No problem, I'll change it right now," the "fake" hotel concierge obliges.

The pretend guest calls back "a few moments later" to cancel the revised booking. The concierge replies that it's "no problem" and is able to easily refund the booking.

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The reservation switch trick can even be used for canceling last-minute dining reservations and sometimes flights as well, according to reporting from Frommer's. "Once that new booking has been established outside the penalty time window, go back and cancel," the travel website advises. 

The website also advises that these kinds of cancellation loopholes don't apply to every circumstance. Guests who book non-refundable rooms may still get dinged, so make sure to read the cancellation policy and any possible rebooking policies before making your reservation.

Katka Lapelosova
Kat is a born and raised New Yorker exploring the world as she writes, eats, and everything in between. Read more
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