To avoid a penalty (typically the cost of the room for one night) Hyatt guests soon must cancel at least 48 — not 24 — hours in advance.

Are you to prone to changing your overnight accommodations on the fly? Will you cancel a hotel reservation if you suddenly find a lower rate or a swankier rooftop pool? If this describes you, then you might need to curb your impetuous behavior, because spontaneity is becoming an expensive habit.

Starting on Jan. 1, Hyatt will no longer allow last-minute cancellations without a penalty (typically the cost of the room for one night). To avoid the charge, guests must cancel at least 48 — not 24 — hours in advance. (Cancellation policies vary by property and travel period, so check the fine print before booking.) Guests enrolled in loyalty programs, however, can still cancel a day before arrival at all but three brands: Hyatt Residence Club, Miraval and M life resort destinations. The exemption applies to members of the World of Hyatt Explorist, Globalist or Lifetime Globalist programs.

Hyatt is not a wolf but a sheep, following the lead of other hotels. In June, Marriott announced its 48-hour cancellation policy for new bookings at most Marriott and Starwood brands in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Latin America. (The exceptions: Marriott Vacations Worldwide and Design Hotels.) Hilton followed a month later for its lodgings in the United States and Canada. In addition, hotels in high-demand destinations, such as Hawaii, can require guests to cancel three days in advance, if not more.

InterContinental Hotels Group also tightened its requirements last year, but the company is still more lenient than the other majors: Now, guests must give a day's notice instead of canceling on the day of a stay. The change affects bookings at Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Staybridge Suites, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, Even and Candlewood Suites in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Some savvy travelers offer a strategy to avoiding cancellation fees, but consult with your conscience before proceeding. They recommend changing the date of your reservation. Though you might have to pay a difference in rate, most hotels don't penalize guests for switching dates — yet.

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