How to cancel a non-refundable Priceline hotel reservation

12 Apr

Have you ever used Priceline’s Express Deals feature? It tells you certain features of the hotel, like the neighborhood, star level and average price, but doesn’t tell you the actual hotel until after you book it. I’ve had good luck with it in the past, getting a 4-star hotel room for the price of a 2-star. But sometimes the deal seems too good to be true. And then suddenly you find yourself googling “How to cancel a non-refundable hotel on Priceline.”

Please learn from my mistake, friends.

priceline express deal scam

The Express Deal hotel seemed like a steal — originally $188 a night, now $60. It had free WiFi, free breakfast and a gym. Sure, it was 2 1/2 stars, but a lot of decent hotels are. I compared the perks and price with hotels on the list view and deducted the mystery hotel was the Fairfield Inn — it had to be! It was in a perfect location, got stellar reviews, and for $60 a night would be an absolute steal. So I bit the bullet and booked the deal … only to find out the mystery hotel was not a Fairfield Inn. It was a Craphole Inn (not actual hotel name). A Craphole Inn that I was now going to be spending 6 nights in by myself in a few months because Priceline Express Deals are non-refundable and non-cancellable, no ifs, ands or buts. I stayed up late reading reviews, trying to assure myself that drug and prostitute solicitation doesn’t happen to every guest at Craphole Inn and I probably wouldn’t even notice the stench in the hallway and stains on the sheets. But once I saw a review mentioning bed bugs, it was the last straw. I could not spend 6 nights (or even one night) at Craphole Inn. I had to find a way to cancel the uncancelable.

I called up Priceline and tried the “I was tricked!” route first. Because I really was tricked — Craphole Inn would never go for $188, even during a special event in the city. Its average price is $70 or $80 a night, which makes the $60 deal understandable. When the trickery route wasn’t working I switched to the “woe is me” routine, explaining that I did not feel safe staying at Craphole Inn by myself and I never would have booked the deal if I knew this was the hotel I would get. “Sorry, Express Deals are non-refundable. There is absolutely nothing I can do. Sucks for you,” the Priceline guy said (I’m paraphrasing). I asked to speak to a senior representative. Surely he could sort me out. So I explained my situation again to him, using both the trickery and safety excuses, and was met with the same response — “Sucks for you. It’s not Priceline’s fault one of our listed hotels happens to be in Sketchy McSketchsville. Your reservation cannot be cancelled.”

And that’s when I used the tip I learned in my google search  — the tip I should have used first.

“What if I call the hotel and they agree to cancel?” I felt like I was grasping at straws — why in the world would this strategy work? But apparently I had said the magic words.

“If you can get the hotel to agree to the cancellation and call us back with the person’s name you spoke to, MAYBE we can work something out.”


But what was I going to tell Craphole Inn? That I wanted to cancel my reservation because of the bad reviews and bad neighborhood? I dialed the hotel before I had a chance to chicken out.

“Hello, I would like to cancel my upcoming reservation, please.” I decided polite and straightforward was the best approach.

“No problem,” the woman replied. She was so nice I almost felt bad about calling her place of employment Craphole Inn. In 10 seconds she had my reservation cancelled. It was almost too easy — as if Craphole Inn was used to people trying to back out of Priceline Express Deal reservations. I took down her name and called Priceline back. The Priceline representative put me on hold while she called Craphole Inn to confirm my cancellation, and then just like that I got an email confirmation of my refund for my non-refunable booking. I had successfully cancelled the uncancellable.

So it’s possible, friends. I wouldn’t recommend it, because there’s always a chance the hotel won’t agree, but it turns out you CAN cancel a Priceline Express Deal.

Here’s my tip for booking Express Deals: Only book them in cities where you are familiar with all the hotels available and there are no Craphole Inns you wouldn’t want to be stuck with. Sometimes the Express Deal hotels are not listed in the List View (Craphole Inn wasn’t) so there may be more possible hotels in that area with that star rating and those amenities than you think. You’ll also notice that when a hotel is not a craphole, the Express Deal will list the guest rating. I should have noticed that was missing from Craphole Inn’s listing. That’s a clear sign to stay away, lest you spend an hour of your afternoon on the phone with Priceline begging to cancel a non-refundable booking.

priceline express deal

TL; DR: Call the hotel first. Ask to cancel. If they agree, take down person’s name you spoke to. Call Priceline. Give them hotel person’s name. Wait while Priceline calls hotel to confirm cancellation. Be relieved you don’t have to stay at craphole.

91 Responses to “How to cancel a non-refundable Priceline hotel reservation”

  1. Ujjwal Halder August 31, 2016 at 8:36 pm #

    I tried it before and the hotel told me to contact Priceline. I Tried it with multiple hotels too. so you might be very lucky.

  2. Crissie Rask October 25, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    This totally saved my day! (and the blog was funny, if a bit close for comfort!) And, for me, the Priceline customer service peeps were very helpful. (probably because I followed your instructions!)

    • reneedezvous October 25, 2016 at 12:19 pm #

      Great! Glad I was able to help someone else 🙂

  3. Amy November 1, 2016 at 10:02 am #

    darn, I called the hotel, but they said I have to contact priceline

    • Kate FitzPatrick May 11, 2018 at 11:08 am #

      That’s what happened to me and I totally go the runaround

  4. Holli Atkinson November 28, 2016 at 6:34 am #

    This worked wonderfully! Thank you SO MUCH! I am so happy I found this article.

    • reneedezvous November 28, 2016 at 2:08 pm #

      Great, so glad I could pass along the tip!

  5. Michael November 28, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    Thank you it worked.. I was already considering disputing the transaction with my bank since the first Priceline agent was very cold but I am glad I had to avoid that hassle. The second agent was able to confirm by calling the hotel. Thanks 😉

  6. Mission Viejo, CA hotel January 6, 2017 at 2:04 am #

    It worked..many thanks

  7. Michael January 6, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    You rock Renee!!! This totally worked for me. Thank You!

    • reneedezvous January 6, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

      Excellent! Happy my post is helping people 🙂

  8. Shari S February 18, 2017 at 10:25 am #

    Worked like a charm! Thanks so much!! Got us out of a loud dump!

  9. Zain Hammad March 9, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

    Thank you so much, this worked! Great fun writing style as well! Thanks!!!

  10. Jennifer March 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm #

    Thankfully I have been right 100% of the time on buying Express Deals (which has been 5 so far this year) and hope I never have an accidental Craphole Inn booking. Glad to know this just in case that ever happens!

  11. Pam Silver March 19, 2017 at 9:20 pm #

    I booked a trip to vegas next month on priceline im soppose to stay at the Stratosphere on the strip the problem is i didn’t know this hotel was so far from the middle of the strip. Can i book at another hotel on priceline and get my money back to stay closer downtown

    • reneedezvous March 20, 2017 at 4:37 am #

      Sorry, I’m not sure. Try calling the Stratosphere and tell them you’d like to cancel.

    • Stephanie Wo May 20, 2017 at 10:14 am #

      The stratosphere is a great hotel I have stayed there several times and the service is excellent. It is only a five dollar ride to the main strip and the way they bend over backwards for you is well worth it!

  12. Maria March 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm #

    I called Resort, they put me on hold and called Priceline. Then patched the 3 of us all together on one call. Priceline just needed confirmation from me and the hotel for permission to cancel. Hotel staff was so kind and helpful. I had email confirmation from Priceline pop up before I hung up with both parties!
    Thanks for your advise! Thought I was stuck with 2 rooms that my traveling partner wasn’t gonna accept. Now SHE is in charge of finding us rooms!!

    • reneedezvous March 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

      haha that’s great! Glad it worked out for you!

  13. Joanna March 31, 2017 at 10:48 pm #

    How long did it take to get your money refunded??? I’m quite disappointed with an issue that I’m having regarding my reservation right now and they wouldn’t budge. I’m going to attempt your strategy tomorrow when someone else is working their shift at the hotel and also another priceline customer service rep.

    • reneedezvous April 1, 2017 at 4:13 am #

      I got an email confirming the refund immediately, I can’t remember how long it took for the money to go back onto my credit card, but it was pretty quickly I think.

  14. Ethan Rauterman April 20, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

    Thank you for this post, it saved me over $300! And the process worked flawlessly, just like you described.

  15. Don May 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm #

    I called the hotel first, and while they were friendly enough, they insisted I had to go through Priceline. I haven’t called Priceline yet because it’s pretty clear what they are going to say. Sadly, my concern isn’t so much the bad hotel (though it apparently is) but that I’m trying to cancel the trip entirely. Worse, that it was for two rooms over three nights, i.e. six room-nights. That’s a lot of nonrefundable pain and may mean an uncancelable trip.

    • reneedezvous May 12, 2017 at 9:18 pm #

      Oh no, that’s unfortunate! I hope you can eventually get it cancelled.

  16. April Harden May 18, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    Thank you SO much for this tip. I spent this morning arguing with Priceline, who told me they absolutely could not cancel my hotel. After reading this article I called the hotel directly. They agreed to cancel. I called Priceline back, told them the hotel agreed to cancel, and it was magically resolved.

    • reneedezvous May 18, 2017 at 5:54 pm #

      Isn’t it crazy how it magically works? Happy to help!

  17. Pat July 18, 2017 at 1:19 pm #

    Thank you so much!

  18. Cgray503 July 25, 2017 at 1:38 pm #

    Omg I want to reach through my phone and kiss you right now!! Thank you so much!!!!!!

  19. Trevonna November 17, 2017 at 7:15 am #

    Thanks so much for the tip! I initially called the hotel, who said that they were blocked from doing cancellations and that this can only be done through Priceline.

    The next morning, I tried a different approach. I called saying that I spoke to Priceline and was told to call the hotel for their approval to cancel and they approved with no problem. I then called Priceline for them to confirm the cancellation with the hotel. Again, no problems! So for those saying it didn’t work, look at your approach. Don’t ask for a cancellation, just approval for it.

    Saved me a lot of cash. Much appreciated!

  20. Melissa December 6, 2017 at 11:02 am #

    Totally worked! Thank you! I spent an hour arguing on the phone before I came across your bog. THANKS A MILLION!

    • reneedezvous December 7, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

      Isn’t that the worst? So happy I could help!

  21. Jen December 11, 2017 at 12:14 pm #

    THANK YOU! Yesterday I ended my relationship with my boyfriend of 5 years. We were suppose to be going to Vegas this weekend to celebrate our anniversary. Ive been in tears for almost 24 hours. When I read that the hotel was non-refundable and non-transferable, it brought me down further. I couldn’t imagine going to Vegas alone on a weekend that was suppose to be for celebration.

    THANK YOU so much for the information. On my second call when I followed your procedure it worked within a few minutes.

    • reneedezvous December 11, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

      So sorry to hear about your relationship, but happy I could help with Priceline!

  22. Sandy s. December 18, 2017 at 4:38 pm #

    I wish this worked for me! I called the hotel but they said I had to go through priceline to cancel.

  23. Star December 22, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

    You are absolutely halarious! His post cracked me up! Thanks for the loophole! I will be calling my crap in a.s.a.p

    • reneedezvous December 22, 2017 at 5:55 pm #

      Thanks! 🙂 Hope it works out for you!

  24. Robert January 10, 2018 at 9:27 pm #

    Love the tip! Worked like a charm. In my case I found out 5 minutes after I made the reservation I did need the room and a nice room at that (8.5). Got PL CSR on chat told the person I called hotel and they canceled it and who I spoke too. PL called hotel and refunded my money. Not something I want to count on but worth the try.

  25. D January 25, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

    Thank you for the tip. After numerous failed calls to priceline….. Calling the hotel worked!!

  26. April Hodge February 10, 2018 at 6:10 pm #

    This probably only worked because Craphole Inn is too low tech to realize that you booked through Priceline. I tried this with Notsocrap Inn, but still not worth it and they referred me back to Priceline. PL did over to refund the over price that I paid but still wanted to charge me for the “upgrade” to a queen bed rather than 2 doubles. No Bueno for a couples weekend away!

  27. Erin February 23, 2018 at 8:01 am #

    THANK YOU! After two calls to the hotel and two to priceline, my trip is cancelled! You are a life (and wallet) saver!

    • reneedezvous February 23, 2018 at 10:38 am #

      Great! That’s always so good to hear!

      • Rachel Frang February 26, 2018 at 10:49 am #

        OOOH boy, this was a life saver! We got a “three” star hotel that had terrible reviews…and soo when I found your article I was so pleased! And it worked for us too! Our hotel didn’t even have the reservation in their computer which made it a little difficult but easier at the end of the day. Thank you!

      • reneedezvous February 26, 2018 at 12:03 pm #

        Excellent! 🙂

  28. VFM March 9, 2018 at 9:05 pm #

    i could hug you! We jus had to implement this strategy. I am so great full for your post. THANKS THANKS

  29. Tom March 24, 2018 at 8:24 pm #

    Didn’t work for me, said I have to contact 3rd party (priceline)

    Too bad it wasn’t a different hotel or this would have worked out looks like the success on this blog is 74%

  30. JJ March 28, 2018 at 7:36 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Like everyone else, I had tried Priceline first and they were adamant, then came across your blog. You are incredible – everyone should know about you!!!

    • reneedezvous March 28, 2018 at 9:50 am #

      You’re too kind, glad it worked out for you!

  31. Amanda Frey April 14, 2018 at 7:27 pm #

    This worked for me!!

    I called the hotel and they said I had to go through Priceline. So I called priceline and said that the hotel approved the cancellation, and they called to confirm, and the hotel agreed. So for people who are getting pushback from the hotel, try this method!

    • reneedezvous April 15, 2018 at 3:16 am #

      That’s a great tip! Glad things worked out for you!

  32. Chris May 3, 2018 at 5:17 pm #

    This is awesome, thank you!
    Never booking through priceline again….

    • reneedezvous May 3, 2018 at 7:58 pm #

      You’re welcome! I definitely learned my lesson too haha

  33. Jen May 31, 2018 at 12:13 pm #

    it worked for me! when the hotel told me to call priceline i told them they told me to call them. they asked the reason and happily cancelled at no fee.

  34. Lauren Osborne June 9, 2018 at 12:10 am #

    I want to kiss you on the mouth! What a fiasco. I was almost in tears! You are a real hero of the internet Renee.

  35. Vane Sophisticate June 26, 2018 at 12:00 pm #

    OMG this actually worked for me! I’m so happy. I accidentally booked a hotel in a different area than the one I wanted to stay in. I called the hotel first and was told to call priceline. I told priceline that i received approval to cancel from the hotel. The hotel confirmed that I did and priceline issued the refund. This post was a lifesaver! I was going to call my credit card next, but no need for that now.

  36. cyn December 22, 2018 at 11:02 am #

    will this work for other non-refundable
    ;le Priceline booking that are not express deals?

    • reneedezvous December 22, 2018 at 1:52 pm #

      I’m not sure, but it’s worth giving a try!

      • cyn December 22, 2018 at 4:44 pm #

        I am a little confused did the hotel make the cancellation or Priceline…i have called the hotel and they have approved the cancellation but said Priceline would have to be the one to make the cancellation

      • reneedezvous December 22, 2018 at 5:08 pm #

        Priceline ultimately makes the cancellation so you have to call them. As I mention at the end of the post: Call the hotel first. Ask to cancel. If they agree, take down person’s name you spoke to. Call Priceline. Give them hotel person’s name. Wait while Priceline calls hotel to confirm cancellation.

        Hope it works out for you!

  37. cyn December 22, 2018 at 5:22 pm #

    you are brilliant…got approval from the hotel then called Priceline…they confirmed with the hotel that they approved of my cancellation and Priceline refunded all my money THANKS

    • reneedezvous December 22, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

      Yay!! So happy my blog post is still helping people!

  38. RAY December 23, 2018 at 1:07 am #

    I ended going through the exact same scenario. The Craphole Inn refused to cancel my booking and I am highly experienced with customer service so yes, I was extremely kind in requesting the cancellation. They advised me to contact the third party because supposedly they were the only ones who can do it. His reasoning was because he doesn’t have any of the billing information. I then told him that I wasn’t requesting a refund and that all I wanted was a cancellation of my booking. No dice. So now WE are stuck with having to stay at Craphole Inn when we were expecting to stay at a 3.5 star hotel like the Hilton/Marriott. The reviews are so bad that I don’t understand how or why, this bad hotel is even considered to be comparable to any 3.5 star hotel? It’s as if Priceline just ignores a hotel’s reviews! These numerous bad reviews are also recently posted by verified guests. Mildew smells, bad customer service of which I have also experienced with 1 call, and construction being performed nearby. Here goes a bad experience with a vacation to San Francisco!

    • reneedezvous December 23, 2018 at 5:24 am #

      Oh no, I’m so sorry! I hope it’s not too bad

  39. MikeL December 29, 2018 at 6:05 pm #

    Worked like a charm. Do exactly as outlined above. Get the hotel reservation guy/gal’s name. Priceline wants that, even though I suspect they won’t get the same person. I also asked the hotel to add a note on the file so that when Priceline called they would see the hotel’s note saying they agree to the “voiding” the transaction. I was very careful to always say void the transaction, because if you cancel the researvation – technically – you get zero dollars back.

    Thanks for the great advice.

    • reneedezvous December 29, 2018 at 6:11 pm #

      Good tips! Glad it worked out for you!

  40. Lee February 13, 2019 at 9:05 pm #

    I just did this. How long does it take to get the refund??

    • reneedezvous February 14, 2019 at 2:17 am #

      I don’t remember exactly, but I would give it a week before following up.

  41. Amanda August 28, 2019 at 10:56 am #

    So grateful for your post. This worked without a hitch even three years after you posted it. You just saved me a lot of money and it seems like a lot of other as well. Thanks for going through the struggles of this so that others don’t!

    • reneedezvous August 28, 2019 at 3:55 pm #

      Awesome! So happy to hear it’s still helping people!

  42. AL Nash October 2, 2019 at 5:40 pm #

    I did this today and it worked!! It took a number of calls between the hotel and Priceline, and I got disconnected from Priceline once, but the hotel was a champ and really helped me out. In this case, it was totally MY mistake because I booked the wrong dates, and I just wanted to change them to a week later.

    Thank you SO much for writing this blog post!! I thought I was going to be out $900 for the whole trip until I started researching and found your post. Now, I’m only out the difference between the Express Deal and the Direct Book through Priceline – $179. $179 is a LOT better than $900 dollars to pay for my mistake.

    VERY grateful for your post, and for the folks at the hotel who helped make it right. Once Priceline heard from the hotel, they initiated the cancellation immediately.

    • reneedezvous October 3, 2019 at 2:24 am #

      That’s so awesome!! I’m glad my experience is still helping people! 🙂

  43. Tim February 12, 2020 at 3:50 pm #

    Still helping people!!! Just read this today… it worked. Thank you!!

  44. Elisha DeVries July 16, 2020 at 11:24 pm #

    Worked perfectly for me!! Thank you THANK YOU! I almost got stuck at a “Craphole Inn” but followed your advice, got a full refund, and all was well 🙂

    • reneedezvous July 17, 2020 at 4:46 am #

      That’s so good to hear! I’m glad it worked out!


  1. A random post about nothing, grocery shopping and a cute panda video | Reneedezvous - March 2, 2017

    […] friends, family and internet strangers (especially those of you who found me through my Priceline refund post, I’m so happy it’s been helping […]

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