Ways around Cancellation Fees to Save You Money

Ways Around Cancellation Fees


When making reservations, it is important to pay attention to prepayment and cancellation policies. If you need to make last minute changes, you could find yourself stuck with large penalty fees. Fortunately for all of you, I have a few tips when dealing with customer service. My time in the hospitality industry has taught me a few tricks that can save you time and money. Here are a few suggestions to help you find ways around cancellation fees.

Building Rapport

The first mistake people make when calling customer service is unleashing their frustrations on unsuspecting agents. The tone you set at the beginning of the phone call is a huge determining factor in the outcome of the call. Speaking from my own experience, I did the bare minimum for customers who started calls by screaming at me or blaming me for their troubles. It immediately put me on the defensive and attempt to end the call as soon as possible.

However, I was much more empathetic when a customer calmly explained their situation. I took the time to not only understand the problem, but also to find creative solutions. Often times, I would go the extra mile for these callers. Sometimes this meant finding loopholes to waive cancellation fees, seeking permission from a supervisor, or offering other forms of compensation of equal value. The life of a customer service representative is full of stress and undeserving anger, so remember that patience and kindness go a long way. It may be cliché, but you really do catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Courtesy Holds without a Credit Card

Another little known tip when making reservations is the courtesy hold. Some hotels and airlines will allow you to hold a rate for 24 to 48 hours without a credit card. This gives you enough time to shop around or discuss it with your travel partners. Just remember that you will have to call back and confirm the reservation with a credit card or risk cancellation. If you are not quite ready to commit, be sure to ask if this option is available. This little known option can buy you extra time without a deposit.

Changing the Dates to Avoid Cancellation Fees

This last option falls into a gray area, so you need to be careful what you say on recorded calls. Most reservations allow cancellations within 24 hours of arrival. However, if you find yourself inside this cancellation period, there is a loophole. Instead of cancelling your reservation and paying the associated fees, simply change the dates. This puts you outside the cancellation period, allowing you to call back and cancel with no penalties.

Although you are not technically breaking any rules, it is frowned upon by many companies. Most customer service agents are aware of this tactic, but cannot offer it to you because calls are monitored. You should also be aware this does not apply to prepaid rates that require full prepayment.

Final Recap

When making reservations, you should always be aware of cancellation policies and required deposits. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are paying unnecessary penalty fees. However, if you do find yourself within a cancellation period, you have options. Most times you can get what you want by politely asking for it. The most important thing is to be kind and courteous. People are more willing to give you what you want when you remain calm and rational.

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How to Properly Use Airline Miles

How to Properly Use Airline Miles

Airline miles are a great way to save money while you travel. They are especially helpful if you are a frequent flyer. Once you join a membership program, you can begin earning airline miles towards free flights and other rewards. However, there are a few rules and regulations that you need to be aware of. Before you book your award travel, here is what you should know about how to properly use your airline miles.

Earning Airline Miles

The biggest mistake people make when booking airline reservations is not including their membership number. The easiest way to ensure you receive your miles is to book your flights online. Once you sign into your account, your membership number and personal information automatically attach to your reservations. In addition to having your information on file, you have the added bonus of instantly knowing if the fares are eligible for airline miles. My carrier even includes how many miles you will earn for each leg of your trip.

Most airlines also offer dedicated credit cards to help you earn miles even more quickly. This can be a huge benefit to you if you are planning several trips in the coming months. Not only do they come with free miles once you reach their spending limits, but they also accrue every time you use the card. If you use it to book your initial flights, you will usually receive enough for a free flight. Furthermore, most airlines offer double miles for purchases made directly through their company. This is a great way to earn extra miles and flights each year.

Understanding the Terms and Conditions

Learning how to properly use airline miles requires you to read the fine print. Since you are not paying the full airfare, there are terms and conditions that apply. First and foremost, you can only earn miles when you book an eligible fare. This excludes bookings through third party websites like TripAdvisor and Agoda or discounted rates. As a former customer service agent, this was the most common obstacle people experienced when they did not receive their airline miles or points.

Secondly, when you book award travel, the seats are limited based on availability. Just because a flight has open seats does not guarantee that you can redeem it using your airline miles. Each flight sets aside a certain percentage of seats for each reward type. Once they are booked, you will either have to wait for a cancellation or find another flight route. Before you make your travel plans, make sure that you have secured the flights for the dates you need.

Purchasing and Redeeming Rewards

After you find the flights that work for you, the booking process is straight forward. It will immediately deduct the points from your account and issue the award. Most airlines will even allow you to purchase additional miles if you are short of the required amount. Often times it is still cheaper than paying for the full fare.

You can also peruse promotional offers to buy discounted miles for even more savings. Moreover, these offers are not limited to the airlines. Airlines have a number of partners that allow you to redeem rewards by transferring your airline miles. You can use them for hotel stays, car rentals, wine clubs, insurance, and other online vendors. There are numerous ways for you to enjoy the benefits of your airline miles.

Transferring Your Airline Miles

The last point to consider is transferring your airline miles if you don’t intend to use them. If there are no partners that meet your needs, consider giving them to another member. For a small fee, you can give them to as a gift to save someone money on their next vacation. If there is no one specific in mind, you can also gift airline miles to charities.

Airline miles are an extremely useful and adaptable benefit of joining an airline’s membership program. There are a variety of ways you can make the most of rewards program. When you learn to properly use airline miles, you can save a ton of money in travel expenses.


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Free Accommodations While You Travel

Free Accommodations While You Travel

Although we are currently restricted from leisure travel, that can’t stop anyone from dreaming about their next big trip. When all this is over, many of you will probably be looking for a long, extended vacation. However, traveling can be very expensive. This is especially true if you are looking at an international destination. What if I told you there were options for free accommodations while you travel? Here are a few suggestions for those who are looking to stretch their travel budget to reach exotic locations.

Free Hostel Accommodations

Although they are typically referred to as “youth hostels,” this type of accommodation is great for travelers of all ages on a budget. Hostel accommodations are just as diverse as the people who use them. Typically, you will have choices ranging from a bed in a shared dormitory to a private room with your own bathroom. Sites like Hostelworld are a great resource to check out the facilities and reviews before you arrive.

The greatest advantage of staying in hostels is that they are a fraction of the cost for a hotel room. However, if you are a long-term traveler and looking to save money, you may be able to arrange free room and board. Hostels usually employ a combination of permanent and temporary staff members to clean, check in guests, or arrange outings. If you are looking for free accommodations while you travel, you can email management before you arrive or discuss it in person. Not only does it offer free accommodations to stretch your budget, but you will also have the opportunity to meet people from around the world.


Couchsurfing is another excellent option to meet new people and experience the local flavor. This social networking site connects travelers with an easy-to-use platform. Simply set up your profile, and then you can begin connecting with and messaging other couchsurfers. It is absolutely free to join, but you can pay to have your profile verified for greater security.

In addition to a free place to stay, you can also choose to meet locals for dinner or drinks. The site also organizes events for members to meet up in cities around the globe. I personally love couchsurfing because you can experience the city from a native perspective. Instead of falling into the usual tourist traps, my hosts take me to their favorite entertainment spots and introduce me to their friends. Some of my best travel experiences have been because of the wonderful people I have met through the site.

WWOOF for Free Accommodations

The WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF project, is a global movement to connect organic farmers with environmentally conscious volunteers. Local growers and producers offer hands-on learning and accommodations in exchange for free labor. Since no money changes hands, it’s a great way to educate yourself and find free accommodations while you travel. The entire movement began as a way to promote organic agricultural practices and build global sustainability.

In order to join the community, you have to create a profile and pay a small annual fee. Once confirmed, you can browse the forums and directory to find an opportunity that suits your travel plans. Each listing will specify the hosts’ specific needs and description of daily responsibilities. Many farms are located far from the bustling city which is perfect if you are looking to get back to nature. Educational opportunities range from farming and animal husbandry to construction and renewable energy projects. WWOOFing offers a unique and rewarding way to save money while you travel.

Final Thoughts

Although your current travel plans have been postponed, it never hurts to look at your options. These are just a few alternatives to help you find free accommodations while you travel. There are tons of options out there if you just think outside the box. Your next great adventure could only be a click away.

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