Simple Trick to Avoid $75 United Award Ticket Booking Fee!
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Via MileValue, there’s a trick you can use to avoid paying the close-in booking fee for United Airlines award tickets.
Normally, United Airlines charges an extra $75 for award tickets booked less than 21 days prior to departure (unless you have elite status, in which case the fee is lower or waived). But there’s a way to avoid the fee, although it might not always work.
I’ll explain how to do it!
What’s the Deal?
If you book an award ticket on United Airlines less than 21 days prior to departure, you’ll pay a close-in booking fee which varies depending on your elite status:
- No Status: $75
- Premier Silver: $50
- Premier Gold: $25
- Global Services, Premier 1K, Premier Platinum: NO fee
But there’s a loophole you can use to try to avoid the fee! I wrote about a similar loophole on American Airlines, but that trick no longer works.
United Airlines allows folks to change or cancel an award ticket within 24 hours of booking with no fees or penalties. If it’s a cancellation, your miles will be re-deposited into your account, and any taxes and fees paid will be refunded to your credit card.
Suppose you need an award ticket for next week (less than 21 days prior to departure). If you booked it normally, you’d be charged the close-in ticketing fee.
The trick is to book the same flights, but more than 21 days away. You will NOT be charged the $75 fee for booking within 21 days.Then, after you’ve booked, call United Airlines within 24 hours to ask to change your flights to the ones you really want (next week).
Because United Airlines’ systems do NOT add the close-in fee automatically, the agent has to remember to charge you the fee.MileValue suggests you call the general reservations number at 800-864-8331 instead of the United MileagePlus service center, because regular agents are less likely to remember to charge you.
You could also try changing it online.
This won’t always work. If the agent remembers to add the fee, you could always politely say you’ve changed your mind, hang up, and call again. Or just pay the close-in charge and at least you tried!
Remember, you can change or cancel any award ticket for no charge within 24 hours of booking.
United Airlines charges a $75 close-in ticketing fee for award tickets booked less than 21 days prior to departure. The fee is less, or waived, for certain elite status members.MileValue confirms there’s a way around it. If you need to book a flight within 21 days of departure, you could 1st book the same flights well into the future (i.e.: more than 21 days away). Then call United Airlines within 24 hours of booking (to avoid change fees) and change the flight to your desired close-in date.
United Airlines’ computer systems won’t add the close-in fee automatically – the agent has to remember to charge you. And in many cases, they won’t!
Again, this won’t work every time, but it’s worth a try to avoid the $75 fee.
Have you used this United Airlines award booking trick successfully?
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Our best offer ever! Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,250 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Enjoy new benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3X points on dining and 2X points on all other travel purchases, plus more.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 100,000 points are worth $1,250 toward travel.
With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)