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Beware of Portal Cancellation Fees on Altitude Reserve Bookings

Discussion in 'New Blog Posts' started by italdesign, Jan 5, 2018.

  1. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member


    US Bank Altitude Reserve card is a “super premium” card released this year. The high-level benefits are known; for example, see this review by Frequent Miler. However, when it comes to some important details, it was challenging for me to find the information before having the card and benefits guide in my hands and enough points in my account. For example, does Trip Delay coverage include award tickets? (the answer is No, except bookings made entirely with Altitude Reserve points). Does it cover family members who aren’t authorized users, when traveling without the primary cardholder? (the answer is No, except spouses and children under 22). I only found these out after reading the benefits guide, which wasn’t available online.


    {credit: usbank.com}

    Altitude Reserve points earned from the signup bonus and everyday spend are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel in the US Bank travel portal. I had heard the portal isn’t very good, but there’s one negative aspect I didn’t realize until I had points for a hotel redemption. It turns out there’s a mandatory $25 fee (imposed by the portal) to cancel ANY hotel booking, even if the actual hotel’s policy is fully refundable. For flight booking, the fee is $30. Car rentals cannot be changed at all.

    Now, I don’t use bank travel portals much, so I’m not 100% sure about their fees, but I believe charging a portal cancellation fee on top of any hotel/airline-imposed fee, is NOT the norm. And the worst part? US Bank portal doesn’t tell you what the actual hotel’s cancellation/change policy is. On the booking page, you get a generic 100-page policy that start with this:

    Change & Cancellation Policy

    – Flight bookings: Itinerary changes, if permitted for the Supplier, may have a $30.00 USD service fee charged by travel provider. Airline change and cancellation fees may also apply.
    – Hotel bookings: Itinerary changes, if permitted for the Supplier, may have a $25.00 USD service fee charged by travel provider. Hotel change and cancellation fees may also apply.
    – Car rental bookings: Due to program restrictions, bookings are non-refundable and non-changeable.
    – Please see below travel provider terms and conditions regarding change and cancellation policy.

    It then goes through countless generic verbiage, and you finally reach the Hotel section on page 8. Here’s the most relevant part:


    Hotel cancellations may be subject to hotel policy. Itinerary changes, if permitted for the Hotel (Supplier), may have a service fee charged by Travel Provider. Hotel change and cancellation fees may also apply. Additional hotel Supplier terms and conditions may apply.

    Due to various hotel rules, date restrictions over high-demand periods, and other special circumstances, hotel cancellation terms are subject to change at any time prior to purchase and may include non-refundable rates. For more information on individual room types and amenities based on room type selections, please contact the hotel directly.

    Some hotel properties may not apply payment until time of checkout. In the case that a hotel property does not correctly apply reward point payment, please contact Travel Provider for payment reconciliation.

    Fee of at least one-night room charges may be assessed for any cancellation or change made less than 72 hours before check-in date with the exception of the Disney hotels, Las Vegas hotels and National Parks. Cancellation Fee of at least one night stay may be assessed for any cancellation or change made less than 5 days before check-in date at a Las Vegas or Disney hotel, or 21 days before check-in date at a National Park. Fee of full amount paid (NO REFUND) may be assessed for no shows without cancellation or changes made less than 24 hrs prior to hotel check-in date and time.

    So basically, there is a bunch of penalties that may be assessed, and everything is subject to hotel policy. But nowhere in this 8,000-word terms does it tell you what the hotel policy is.

    I called the portal just to make sure I wasn’t crazy, and indeed, even the agent saw the same generic terms. Even after he checked with a “specialist”, he could only relay what they “thought” (that the hotel cancellation policy is 24 hours). I pointed out that the generic verbiage said 72 hours. He shrugged and said to follow that then. I also checked another hotel just to make sure it wasn’t a one-off dud. It wasn’t.

    This means when you book a hotel on the portal, you have no way of knowing what the actual cancellation deadline is. At least, not without calling and escalating.

    In a Nutshell

    That a “super premium” card with $400 annual fee would impose a cancellation fee for fully refundable bookings seems egregious. That it doesn’t even show the actual cancellation policy/deadline is… speechless. Basically, forget speculative booking for fully refundable hotels using Altitude points.

    The post Beware of Portal Cancellation Fees on Altitude Reserve Bookings appeared first on Points Adventure.

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  2. LearnMS

    LearnMS Level 2 Member

    This is all good information. Thanks for sharing.

    I don't have this card. But I am about to book a car rental in a few hours using Chase portal. I haven't done this before. Anything I need to keep in mind with Chase UR booking about cancellations?
  3. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    Yes, I discovered the same thing. I believe every hotel room offered is non-refundable. I rely on flexibility when it comes to hotel reservations, especially when I am book a trip far ahead. That makes using Altitude points a real pain.

    Still there are many times were the Altitude point prices are a real deal. Out of our original 69,000 points, we have booked the following 6 nights and still have a balance of 29,400:
    • 4 nights at the Algonquin Resort in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, NB
    • 1 night in Oxford, UK
    • 1 night in Barbados
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  4. Matt

    Matt Administrator Staff Member

    I went through exactly the same thing recently. Booked a suite using points so we had room for 3 guests, then after booking got an email saying we would be charged an additional 70EUR per night for the roll away bed.

    Called to cancel, was told I had to pay the fee (that didn't happen) and explained that this was nonsense.
  5. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    Other annoying thing about the Altitude hotel portal is their primitive filters.
    1. Free airport shuttle is not an amenity option
    2. One cannot set a maximum price.
    3. When you filter by neighborhood, you still get the entire metropolitan region.
    4. One cannot sort by distance to a landmark, like a train station or a museum.
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2018
  6. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    That wasn't my experience, according to both phone agent and (the admittedly confusing) T&C.
  7. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    I'm pleasantly shocked that you booked these 6 nights for a total of $384 ((55k - 29,400) * 1.5). None of them are cheap locations. Must have been off season?
  8. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    Yeah, it was too good to be true. I rechecked my reservations. The Algonquin nights were booked using my Altitude CC and then repaid with Altitude points - they had a super low government rate for 2 of the 3 nights and Canadian dollars are da bomb. The place in Oxford is more like a spanking new hostel and the place in Barbados is a hotel that catered to business travelers and it had a price drop in August.

    I shop a long while before I actually book, especially when it's non-refundable.
  9. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    Does that mean it was reimbursed by the $325 annual credit?
  10. heavenlyjane

    heavenlyjane Level 2 Member

    No, it wasn't the annual travel credit I used. My travel credit was used up with luggage fees and SW GCs.

    I believe I used points as a statement credit because the cash price for the rooms were a better value than the point price.

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