Cancellation policies have always been extremely important for travelers who don’t want to get caught with hefty fees for canceling or making changes to their hotel stays.
But now with the change in cancellation policies rapidly changing due to the global pandemic, it’s even more important to stay on top of these policies.
In this article, I’ll break down the IHG cancellation policy and tell you everything you need to know about the recent changes.
What is the IHG cancellation policy?
Generally, you will have to cancel 24 to 72 hours prior to arriving to avoid cancellation penalties. However, the cancellation policy depends on the type of booking you make and also can depend on the property you are staying at.
Changes have recently been made to the cancellation policy due to the pandemic and I will break down those changes below.
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Coronavirus cancellation policy
Like other major hotel chains, IHG implemented a cancellation policy as a response to the pandemic.
IHG allowed all non-refundable/pre-paid bookings made up to and including December 31, 2020 to be cancelled without penalty (up to 24 hours before arrival) up until December 31, 2020.
This effectively treated all bookings as if they were booked with the most flexible rate possible.
Note: After December 31, 2020, all non-refundable/pre-paid bookings will be subject to the terms and conditions of the rate booked.
So unless this policy is extended, any IHG booking made in 2021 that is nonrefundable or prepaid will be nonrefundable per the usual terms and conditions. (You can find out more about those terms below.)
IHG specifically states that the these prepaid bookings can be changed without charge. So if you have a nonrefundable stay and you can’t make your booking, you should seriously consider changing the date of your booking so that you don’t lose out on all your value.
Just note that you will be responsible for any difference in pricing.
You can find out more details here.
How to find the IHG cancellation policy
IHG makes it extremely easy to find out what cancellation policy applies to your booking. They also are great about providing the exact time cut off that you need to cancel by.
In order to find your cancellation policy, simply head over to the IHG website and search for the hotel you are interested in. After you click on the hotel and click on the specific room that you are interested in, you will see the different types of rates that you can book.
You can use the navigation tabs at the top to filter rates for refundable or non-refundable stays making the search process extremely easy and user-friendly.
Book Early & Save – Advance Purchase
These will be the cheapest type of rates but will come with the least amount of flexibility.
The terms may differ based on the property but typically you will see terms stating something like the following requirements:
- Non Refundable
- Deposit Required
- Must book 7 days in advance
Note that when IHG states that a deposit is required typically what they mean is that a deposit for the entire stay is required.
Some hotels may allow you to make a change to an advance purchase rate but you will be responsible for any difference in the rates. For the best results, try to make your change as early as possible.
The other thing to note about advance purchase rates is that typically you must make these several days in advance. The minimum time varies by hotel but usually you need to make this type of booking at least four days in advance. I’ve also seen some hotels in locations like Hawaii that require you to book at least two to three weeks in advance!
Book Now, Pay Later
Once again, the terms will differ based on the exact property but here are some of the terms you may come across:
- FREE Cancellation until 6:00 PM local hotel time on [Specific Date]
- No Deposit Required
- Must book 3 days in advance
Cancellation time frames may vary when you are paying later. In this case, this example required cancellation to take place three days prior to arrival. Notice that there is also a requirement to book a few days in advance to take advantage of the cheaper rate.
In most cases, a deposit will not be required.
Best Flexible Rate
The best flexible rate is similar to the Book Now, Pay Later but you may have even more flexibility. In the sample booking that I did, it allowed me to cancel up to two days in advance instead of the three.
But note that not every property offers more flexibility with the cancellation deadline when you book the Best Flexible Rate. I’ve seen some cases where the Best Flexible Rate cancellation deadline is the exact same as the Book Now, Pay Later deadline.
The great thing about the best flexible rate is that you usually should not see a requirement to book several days in advance. So if you are somebody who waits until the last minute to book, you might be booking this type of rate.
If you are booking your stay with points, the cancellation policy for a flexible rate will apply in many cases. For example, for my sample booking it showed that I would need to cancel two days in advance by 6 PM local hotel time in order to get all of my points refunded.
But note that if you make a points plus cash booking, bookings are charged immediately in USD, and cancellations are refunded in points only.
The cancellation policy for reward nights should be the same or very similar to the cancellation policy for using something like a free night certificate.
Some rates may include breakfast. Breakfast can be included in both prepaid and flexible rates so you will always just have to refer to the rate details to make sure you are aware of the cancellation policy.
Related: What Hotels Have Free Breakfast?
Some hotels will require you to make a deposit at the time of booking or at some other time before you arrive. Many times, a “deposit” is required if you are booking an advance purchase rate but it’s actually the payment for the entire stay.
You can usually find the details for the deposit by simply clicking on “rate details.” You might see that it says, “A deposit for the entire stay is due at time of booking.”
Like other hotels, the cancellation fee will often be a charge equal to the first night stay per room.
So if the room would cost $250 for the first night, you would likely get charged $250 to your credit card If you failed to cancel before the cut off.
As the terms and condition state, taxes may apply.
Elite status cancellation policy
IHG Cancellation Policy FAQ
The deadline for avoiding a cancellation fee will vary based on the property but many properties are requiring cancellation only 24 hours prior to check in right now.
The cancellation deadline is typically at 6 PM local hotel time on the last day that you are allowed to cancel.
The cancellation fee is typically the price of a one night stay. To estimate the fee, simply look at the price of your first night scheduled.
The cancellation for a points booking is typically the same as for a standard rate but it could depend on the property. This means that you will typically have 24 to 48 hours prior to arrival to cancel your booking. If you fail to cancel your booking, you will lose the points required to cover your first night stay.
A deposit will likely be required for advance purchase rates and this deposit will need to cover the entire stay. If you cancel your booking or fail to show then you will lose the entire deposit.
The cancellation policy will depend on the type of rate that you booked. If you have booked a flexible stay then you may be able to cancel 24 to 72 hours prior to your arrival.
The free night certificate cancellation policy will differ at every property. Some will allow free cancellations up to a couple of days before check-in and some might allow free cancellations the same day
IHG has a pretty straightforward cancellation policy that is similar to other large hotel programs. They are very good about explaining the cancellation policy in detailed terms and also providing you with the exact hour that you need to cancel by to avoid a cancellation fee. For that reason, they are one of the most consumer friendly hotel programs when it comes to cancellations.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.