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United Travel Credits are a form of compensation offering you an alternative to direct refunds and facilitating easier rebooking and travel adjustments. These credits come in two types: Future Flight Credits and Travel Certificates. Each type caters to different circumstances under which they are issued.
- Future Flight Credits: These are typically issued when you cancel your trip or opt for a cheaper flight than your original booking. The main utility of these credits lies in their ability to be used for booking new travel. This includes flights operated by United, United Express, and their partners, all of which can be purchased via the United website or app. Interestingly, these credits aren’t limited to ticket purchases; they can also be applied to certain non-ticket items, such as seat selections. However, it’s important to note that these credits must be applied when booking the ticket, as they cannot be used after the initial purchase.
- Travel Certificate: Generally issued in more specific situations, such as when you volunteer to give up your seat on an overbooked flight or as a gesture of goodwill from the airline. Like Future Flight Credits, Travel Certificates can be used for booking flights and certain non-ticket items. A notable feature of Travel Certificates is their flexibility regarding who can use them; unlike Future Flight Credits, they are transferable and can be used by anyone.
Future Flight Credits
Thanks to a recent United Airlines Amex Offer (spend $750, get $150 credit) on my Business Platinum Card, I booked a weekend trip to Chicago with United Airlines. The ticket was booked directly on United’s website, and the rate chosen was non-refundable in Economy Cabin.
As expected, the Amex credit was posted a day after purchasing the ticket. Unfortunately, my plans had changed come New Year, and I needed to cancel or postpone my trip to Chicago. Since I didn’t have specific dates for rebooking, the cancellation was my only option. This is where United Travel Credits came in handy, as I could cancel my non-refundable tickets and accept a Future Travel Credit for the full amount.
I completed my cancellation and selected United Travel Credit as an option on the app under ‘Manage my booking.’ I received a cancellation summary, and the Future Flight Credit was added to my United Wallet for use at a later time. The credit was valid for an entire year from the original date of purchase, in my case, until Dec 12, 2024.
Redeeming United Travel Credits
Redeeming United Travel Credits is a straightforward process. You can select “Travel Credits” as a payment option at checkout when shopping for a flight. Any unused credits linked to your MileagePlus account will automatically appear. For those without a MileagePlus account or if a specific credit doesn’t appear, there’s an option to look up the credit directly from the checkout page and apply it as I did. I could access my credit directly from the wallet and use the ‘Book with credit’ feature.
Since the credit is tied to me as the primary passenger, not the route, I could select a new route and pay the difference. The interface was easy and intuitive to use, and the price difference was identified for each fare type during the search.
One key aspect to remember is that while you can use multiple credits of the same type in a single purchase, Future Flight Credits and Travel Certificates cannot be combined in one transaction. This distinction ensures that each type of credit retains its specific terms and conditions, providing travellers with clarity and ease of use.
Extending United Travel Credits
While Future Travel Credits are valid for an entire year, there is a simple way to extend the validity by a full year. The trick is to use the travel credit and book a fare slightly higher than the credit value. When you cancel this ticket, the entire value will be refunded as a Future Travel Credit with a new expiry date, a full year ahead.