Refunding My First Points Redemption

A few short weeks ago, I shared how Hilton was having a sale on points (while also taking a look at whether or not it was a good deal) and followed that up by documenting my first ever Amex Membership Rewards redemption, which combined those transferred points with the ones I had purchased from Hilton. Well, yesterday, I made the tough decision to cancel that reservation, thus rendering my first point redemption all for naught. So what was the experience of refunding this redemption like — and what are the pros and cons?

First, I’m very happy to say that the process of canceling my hotel reservation and getting my points back could not have been much easier. All I did was punch up my Hilton reservation, hit “cancel,” and confirmed my intention. That was it. Within a minute or two, my point balance was updated to reflect the refund. I suppose if I could change anything about the process, it would be that I’d have appreciated explicit confirmation that my points would be refunded before I completed the cancelation, but the note that said “free cancelation until [date]” was good enough.

Now for the downside. As I wrote when I covered the pros and cons of purchasing points, it’s usually recommended that you have a specific redemption in mind before buying or transferring points. Well, now I really see why as I’m just sitting on points I don’t know what to do with. And while they’re not at risk of expiring for quite some time (and there are ways to help ensure that they don’t expire), I’m already feeling as though I need to do something with them. Of course, the hope is that I can now research redemptions that are possibly even a better value than my original booking, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

The other downside in my particular case is that I still technically have money tied up in a trip I’m not taking. Let me explain: let’s say I had bitten the bullet and booked the room in cash for $2,000. When I canceled said stay, that two grand would have been refunded to me — no harm, no foul. Meanwhile, as it stands, I still ended up spending $800 on this would-be trip since that’s what I spent to buy the additional points I needed. Yes, I’ll eventually be able to use these points and get the value of that $800 back but, for now, I’m SOL.

For as disappointing as it is to have to cancel my trip and despite the slight frustration that comes with now holding points instead of cash, I don’t think I regret my redemption overall. To me, my method still made sense and would have been a smart deal had a continued global pandemic — that I have to believe most of us thought would be at bay my now — hadn’t ruined everything (again). In any case, this episode is a lesson learned for me and hopefully helps highlight one minor risk points and miles may have.


Kyle Burbank

Kyle is a freelance writer and author whose first book, "The E-Ticket Life" is now available on Amazon. In addition to his weekly "Money at 30" column on Dyer News, he is also the editorial director and a writer for the Disney fan site and the founder of

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