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No one wants to cancel a trip, but when you’re faced with unforeseen circumstances like illness, a canceled meeting or — as we’ve seen in recent months — the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important to have a course of action in place for when you do need to cancel a trip.
Canceling a trip booked directly through the airline is pretty simple — generally, you can do this on the airline’s website or by calling up the airline. However, things get tricky when you need to cancel airfare booked through a credit card portal like Amex Travel. Canceling a ticket booked with Membership Rewards points can be difficult if you don’t know where to look.
Things get even more confusing when your travel is covered by a carrier-issued travel waiver of change and cancellation fees. These are generally issued when airlines think they will cancel a lot of flights at once, helping save gate and ticket counter agents time at the airport.
Here’s how to cancel travel booked through the Amex Travel — bookmark this guide and refer to it the next time you need to book travel booked with Membership Rewards points.
Check your common carrier’s website for information
When you book travel through Amex Travel, your travel is covered by the change or cancellation policy of the airline, hotel car rental company that you’re booked with. For example, if you booked a United Airlines flight through Amex Travel, you’re subject to United’s change and cancellation policies. Before you start the change or cancellation process for a ticket, make sure you know your carrier’s policy.
Due to current circumstances with the coronavirus and travel restrictions, most U.S. travel providers are waiving fees for changing or canceling plans. You can find this information on your airline or hotel’s website. TPG has also compiled current U.S. airline and hotel policies regarding changes made to travel due to coronavirus:
Canceling American, Delta, and United tickets with a coronavirus waiver
Amex Travel recently started letting customers booked on American, Delta and United cancel and change tickets directly through the airline. Doing this is pretty simple too — just find your reservation on the airline’s website and follow the instructions to amend your reservation.
With United, for example, type your confirmation number and last name into the My Trips window on the United homepage and click the Search button. Then, click the Cancel flight or Change flight button at the top of the screen and follow the on-screen prompts.
As is the case with all airlines, canceling your flight will generally result in future flight credit, not a refund to your original form of payment. In the case of the example above, this means that you’d receive a United credit in lieu of your Membership Rewards points.
Changing a flight will be subject to the airline’s specific travel waiver. Make sure to check the specifics for American, Delta, and United before you opt to change your flight, so that you know what to expect.
Canceling other airfare with a coronavirus waiver
Tickets booked with another airline through Amex Travel that’s subject to a travel waiver can still be canceled online, but with a few caveats. Amex Travel has an online form that you can use to cancel your tickets.
The main restriction to keep in mind is that your departure date must be must be more than five days away. These restrictions are in place because the cancellations are manually processed and the Amex team is likely swamped right now. If you’re looking to cancel travel booked within the last 24 hours or your departure is within the next five days, you’ll need to call Amex.
The 24-hour rule is especially important. Per Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, airlines must let travelers cancel tickets within 24 hours of booking for a full refund to the original form of payment. Make sure to call Amex Travel if you just booked travel and need to cancel.
If your flight is eligible, using the online form the cancel airfare only takes a minute or two. Just navigate to the form, enter your airline record locator, Amex Travel ID and answer a few on-screen questions. Then, submit the form and your cancellation will be processed within the next few days.
After submitting this form, Amex will follow up with you over email when your itinerary is canceled. The refund depends on the airline’s specific travel waiver, so make sure to check with the airline you’re booked with for more information.
We highly recommend that you don’t use this form for travel on American, Delta or United — instead, follow the steps in the last section. This will ensure that your cancellation is processed correctly and that you’re not adding unnecessary stress to the cancellation team at Amex Travel.
What if I want to change my plans, not outright cancel?
Itinerary changes are processed differently than outright cancellations and — in the case of the coronavirus waiver — depend on the specifics of your airline’s travel waiver. With this in mind, check your airline’s specifics before you proceed with changing a flight.
As discussed, changing an American, Delta or United flight can be done through the airline’s website. You have to call in changes to itineraries to flights operated by other airlines by calling Amex Travel at 1-800-297-2977. It’s important to know your airline’s cancellation policy before you call so you’re not met with any surprises.
Also, note that hold times may be longer than usual when calling in changes during the coronavirus outbreak. We’ve heard reports of customers waiting hours to get in touch with a phone representative, so be prepared to call back if there’s you experience an unrealistically long hold time.
What if my travel isn’t 5+ days away?
If your travel is within the next five days, you must call Amex Travel to cancel your flight. Again, this is because the online cancellation form is manually processed. Your cancellation may not be processed in time and your ticket may not be eligible for a refund after the fact.
You can call Amex Travel at 1-800-297-2977 to cancel your trip if it’s within the next five days. Again, you may need to wait on hold, but it will be worth it in order to receive a refund if you’re entitled to one.
What about hotel and rental car reservations?
Hotel and rental car reservations can often be canceled on the Amex Travel website. Navigate to the My Trips page on Amex Travel and locate the reservation you’d like to cancel. In most cases, this process can be handled entirely online.
Amex Travel has made an exception for all hotel reservations made prior to Mar. 19, 2020 with check-in scheduled through Apr. 30, 2020. These reservations can be canceled with no penalty so long as its done at least 24 hours prior to when the stay is set to begin. All stays — including restrictive prepaid reservations — are eligible for this exception.
All other hotel stays are subject to the hotel’s individual cancellation policy. Some hotels may offer a coronavirus travel waiver, so make sure to contact the hotel beforehand so that you know what to expect when you cancel.
Rental car reservations are all subject to the cancellation policy imposed by the rental car company, but all reservations can be canceled directly through Amex Travel. You should be due a full refund for canceling your rental car in most cases.
Will I be refunded in points or as a statement credit?
Your refund will depend on how your carrier chooses to process your refund. If you cancel a Delta ticket, for example, the airline will issue an eCredit that can be used towards a future reservation. However, if you cancel a hotel or other type of travel reservation that issues a refund to the original form of payment, you will receive your refund in the form of a statement credit, not Membership Rewards points.
If you receive a refund in the form of a statement credit and you originally paid for your travel booking with Membership Rewards points, you may be able to convert the statement credit back to points. Amex Travel’s website notes that cardmembers in this situation can call 1-800-296-3276 and request that the points are reinstated.
TPG is dedicated to helping readers navigate travel changes during the global coronavirus outbreak. We’ve built an extensive library of travel news, advice and guides that are meant to keep you up in the know on how the coronavirus outbreak is changing the travel world. Make sure to bookmark our dedicated coronavirus page to stay up to date.
Looking for a good place to start? Check out these guides:
- Here’s what to consider if you’re thinking about booking future travel now
- The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption coverage
- These are the global coronavirus travel restrictions by country
- Complete guide to airline elite status during the coronavirus outbreak
- Tips to reach airline customer service quickly
- Complete guide to hotel elite status during the coronavirus outbreak
Amex Travel has made it easier than ever to cancel bookings made through its portal. Whether you’re canceling through the online form or directly through American, Delta or United, it’s miles easier than calling Amex Travel and waiting on hold. Plus, you’re saving time for people that do need to call to cancel a reservation.
Remember, though, there are still a couple of cases where you’ll need to call Amex Travel to cancel a reservation. Namely, if you just booked a ticket or have travel within the next five days. So with this in mind, make sure to proactively cancel online if you can.
And with that: stay safe out there. Make sure to check CDC recommendations before you start traveling again. This will keep everyone safe and will only expedite our return to normalcy in the travel world and beyond.
SPONSORED: While travel is limited right now due to COVID-19, you need your everyday purchases to give you flexible, forever useful cash. In general, TPG gives preference to transferable points and using your points to travel, but on some days, cash is king.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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