How to use a United Airlines trip credit (and few details you need to know)
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It’s been about a year since your summer 2020 travel dreams were dashed against the stone of COVID-19. Do you have trip vouchers, credits, or funds that are soon to expire?
Several airlines have extended travel credits into 2022. Whether you’re in a rush to use them or not, it’s nice to have a visual guide to explain the process to you. I just repurposed my 2020 United Airlines flight credit for an upcoming trip to the West Coast next month. I’ll show you how easy it is to use a United flight credit and give you a couple of tips along the way. And how you can pair a United credit card with it to get the most value.
Step 1. Find future flight credits at the top of the page
Once you log into your account, you’ll find any flight credits displayed at the top left of the screen. Click that to get the process started.
Step 2. Click the details of your future flight credit
You’re now taken to your dashboard displaying your mileage balance, TravelBank balance, elite status progress, etc. Under “Travel credit,” you’ll see any future flight credit you’ve accrued. Click “View details.”
Step 3. Click “Book with credit”
I’ve only got credit from one canceled trip. United prominently displays the value of that flight which can be attributed to another United trip. You’ll also find the expiration date for your flight here.
Click “Book with credit.”
Step 4. Enter your new travel info
You’re now carrying your trip credit’s value along with you as you search for new flights. Enter your new details, check all the passengers that will be traveling with you, and click “Continue.”
Note that while there aren’t any fees for changing your flight, you’ll still have to pay the difference if your new fare is more expensive than your trip credit — but if your new fare is less than your trip credit, you will forfeit the difference in your trip credit. For example, if you’ve got a $100 trip credit, but your new flight is $90, you’ll lose $10.
This is a good principle to keep in mind when reserving your flights. Perhaps try to book two one-ways instead of a round-trip, so if you have to cancel, your trip credits will be smaller and you’ll have less chance of forfeiting value.
Step 5. Choose your new flight
Your new airfare doesn’t have to be the same origin and destination — your trip credit can be used towards any flights. I changed my flights from Portland-Maui to Dayton-San Francisco. In your search results, United displays flight prices relative to your applied flight credit. As you can see, most flights are at least $33 more expensive per person.
As a side note, I’m able to choose United Basic Economy (the absolute worst seats), because I have the United℠ Explorer Card, which negates most of the restrictions that Basic Economy enforces. For example, United cardholders can bring a carry-on bag for free, and they’ll receive preferred boarding. Basic Economy travelers without a United credit card will board dead last and aren’t allowed to bring a carry-on.
Step 6. Reserve your trip
You’ll then need to review your trip details, and it’s time to check out! You can see the actual cost of the itinerary minus the applied trip credit.
Something big to note is that you can’t mix any United TravelBank cash with a trip credit. If you’re applying a previously canceled trip’s value to your flight, any remaining value will have to be paid in cash. An unfortunate truth.
If you’ve got another voucher in another program, let us know if you need help with that. Also check out our guide to making American Airlines flight credits more valuable. It could save you literally $1,000+ — just look at the comments!
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United℠ Explorer Card
Earn up to 70,000 bonus miles. Earn 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn an additional 10,000 miles after you spend $6,000 total on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining, hotel stays, and United® purchases
Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® fee Credit
25% back on United® inflight purchases
Check your first bag for free (a savings of up to $140 per roundtrip) when you use your card to purchase your ticket
Enjoy priority boarding privileges and visit the United Club℠ with 2 one-time passes each year for your anniversary
Earn 2 miles per $1 spent on dining including eligible delivery services
17.24% – 24.24% Variable
$0 Intro for First Year, then $95.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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