April 8, 2020
With stay-at-home orders in place, many Americans fear they could potentially lose money they’ve already spent on trips, events and other things that are now canceled or postponed. But the coronavirus pandemic shouldn’t derail your finances.
The virus has put life events and travel on hold, with government officials banning large gatherings to contain the spread of COVID-19. That means occasions like weddings and public entertainment such as theater, concerts and vacations have been postponed.
And with stay-at-home orders in place in 45 states, many people may be losing money on events they’ve already paid for.
Here’s how to ensure you get your money back or a credit:
With a number of flights being canceled as a result of travel restrictions surrounding COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Transportation implemented a new policy mandating that airlines refund customers whose flights were significantly delayed or canceled due to the novel coronavirus.
For those who have flights booked months in advance, airline experts say you may be better off waiting for the airline to cancel the flight or calling just a few days before to get your full refund.
“If an airline cancels a flight now that’s scheduled for a few weeks from now, you might get the option for a full refund, rather than just a travel credit. So there’s no benefit to canceling weeks or months in advance,” Seth Kaplan, a New York-based airline expert, recently told FOX Business.
Kaplan noted that refunds vary by airline.
“For tickets booked before a few days ago, your new flight needed to change by six hours on United, but by just 90 minutes on Delta and 60 minutes on American, to get a full refund,” Kaplan explained. “In other words, Delta and American are much more flexible in this regard than United. They are, however, making the requirements somewhat stricter for new bookings starting now.”
With movie theaters closed nationwide, some subscription services are now on pause. AMC’s $25-per-month subscription service, AMC Stubs A-list, which lets subscribers see up to three movies per week, said it would pause billing while theaters are closed. Before the pause on memberships expires, the company will notify customers giving them the option to extend a freeze on their accounts, Deadline reported.
And those who purchased tickets to a show or concert should follow up with the event venue or performer’s social media page or website to see if it has been rescheduled. If it’s canceled, you will likely get a refund.
Those who purchased a trip using a credit card with travel insurance may be able to get vacation covered for between $10,000 and up to $20,000 for each cancellation due to illness or travel changes.
However, if your trip is not insured, a number of hotel chains have cancellation and/or postponement policies. Hilton, for example, is offering full refunds or waived fees to change bookings for places with government-issued travel restrictions. Reservations that were slated before April 30 can be canceled free of charge for up to 24 hours before the arrival date.
Mariott Hotels is also waiving cancellation fees for guests traveling to impacted areas. And Best Western waived cancellation fees for hotel stays scheduled on or before Jun 30 if canceled at least 24 hours in advance. Forbes has a full list of hotels offering cancellations here.
Events and weddings
If you are getting married and need to postpone your big day, the wedding website The Knot advises the bride and groom to contact their vendors as soon as possible to arrange a refund or to decide on a later date. For those who purchased an insurance package, contact an agent to see if it’s covered.
Organizers of weddings and events that are called off due to unforeseen circumstances such as a disaster or disease epidemic are more likely to be given flexibility with refunds.
(Sources: Fox Business, The Knot and the U.S. Department of Transportation)