Ways to Cancel a Hotwire Reservation
It can be hard to pass up some of the Hotwire travel deals you'll find online; after all, who doesn't want to save up to 60 percent – or more! – off travel rates? But there's always a catch, and usually the trade-off for booking great deals through a third-party site like Hotwire is that you give up some of the flexibility for changing or canceling your reservation. But, depending on the specifics of your situation, there are a few things you can try to get that reservation canceled and refunded.
The Official Hotwire Cancellation Policy
Rental Cars: The official Hotwire policy for rental cars depends on what sort of rate you booked. If you booked at a regular rate, you can cancel it with no penalty; just sign in to your Hotwire account, click "My Account," and select the rental you want to cancel.
But if you booked a rental car at a Hotwire Hot Rate, the official policy is that the booking is final and cannot be cancelled, refunded, changed or transferred. But don't stop reading yet, because there is sometimes a little wiggle room in that policy for Hot Rate cancellations.
Hotel Deals: Again, Hotwire's refund and change policy for hotels is divided into two categories. If you booked the hotel through a Hotwire Hot Rate, the official word is that you cannot change or cancel the reservation. If you booked a regular (non-Hot-Rate) hotel room, then the cancellation policy is up to the hotel's individual policies.
You'll get to see a copy of those policies before you finalize your Hotwire booking. It'll also be in your booking confirmation email and under that booking in your My Account page.
Airline Tickets: Much the same policy applies for airline tickets. If you booked a Hotwire reservation at a Hot Rate price, you're officially "stuck." If you booked a non-Hot-Rate ticket, though, you will be subject to the airline's own policies for changes and cancellations, which may range anywhere from no fee at all to changing with a fee or no change allowed.
Most airlines aren't known for their generosity in ticket changes nowadays, and sometimes the specifics of their policy comes down to what sort of fare you've booked; the more expensive or full-fare tickets tend to come with more options. So it's always a good idea to double-check the airline's change and cancellation policies, even if you book through a third party.
Even if the airline, rental car or hotel company's official policy is "no refunds allowed," if you have a truly compelling story for cancelling, such as a sick family member you want to spend time with, they might be willing to issue a refund or let you change your reservation to another time.
Some Hot Rate Wiggle Room
As you can see, the Hotwire booking and cancellation policy for its Hot Rate deals is very strict; and although there's always a very slim chance you might get lucky by pleading your case with a sympathetic Hotwire representative, most of them will truthfully state that their hands are tied when it comes to cancelling your reservation.
But that answer may change if you speak directly to a representative of the hotel or rental car your reservation is with. Because you booked through a third party, the hotel or airline representative usually won't be able to make the cancellation for you. But if the company representative agrees that you should be allowed to cancel, Hotwire becomes much happier to oblige.
You'll need to contact Hotwire, let them know you have the company's permission to cancel, and be prepared to give the Hotwire representative the name and information of your contact at the company, so that they can confirm what you're saying.
What About Travel Insurance?
Even if the company representatives don't want to authorize a cancellation, you might still be able to recoup your losses through travel insurance, especially if it offers trip cancellation coverage. (You do have travel insurance, right?)
But again, there's a catch: Not all travel insurance companies will cover all reasons for trip cancellation or delay. Even if they do cover your reason for trip cancellation or delay, the claims process often means that you have to pay associated costs up front; then, the travel insurance company processes your claim and reimburses you.
The process of being reimbursed can take a month or longer, and all travel insurance companies have a limit on what they'll reimburse. So do purchase travel insurance, but make sure you check the fine print so you'll know how much coverage they offer per day or per trip, and which reasons for a trip cancellation they will (or won't) cover. For example, most trip insurance companies may cover cancellations because of bad weather, but they might not cover a full trip cancellation just because the event you were planning to attend got cancelled.
Did you pay for your reservations with a credit card? Some credit cards offer generous trip cancellation coverage, so you might be able to get your money back even if Hotwire won't issue a refund. Usually, cards that offer travel points as rewards are the best prospects for this.
More Tips for a Successful Cancellation
So you've tried all the other tips listed, and you still haven't been able to cancel your Hotwire reservation or get a refund on a prepaid Hot Rate reservation. If you've cancelled on a whim, take the financial hit and plan more carefully next time. But if you have a compelling, unavoidable reason to cancel, you might still get a refund or credit if you are politely persistent.
Sometimes it's as simple as calling back to speak with a different representative who's in a better mood or more inclined to sympathize with you; if you called directly to the front desk of a hotel or car rental office, try calling the national reservation line so you can speak to someone else.
Also, keep in mind that just because the person answering the phone doesn't have the power to issue a refund or cancel your reservation, that doesn't mean it can't be done – but they're often not allowed to tell you that. Ask politely to speak to a manager, and they may be better able to help you.
Above all else, be nice. No matter how frustrated you may be, remember that the reservations agent or manager you're dealing with is a human being too, and their willingness to bend the rules and offer a cancellation (or maybe a credit you can use another time) depends entirely on whether they sympathize or empathize with your situation – and that's much easier if you're polite and straightforward about whatever prompted the cancellation.