American Airlines is making it much easier to redeem your existing travel credits

Aug 27, 2021

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There’s great news for American Airlines travelers with unused travel credits.

This week, the Fort Worth-based carrier began a multi-step process in making it easier than ever to redeem those credits. The devil is in the details, but essentially American is converting existing “Flight Credit” into “Trip Credit.” Though it’s only a one-word difference on paper, the implications of this change are much more far-reaching — in a positive way.

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Previously, when you voluntarily canceled a flight, American issued a “Flight Credit” for the value of your unused trip. When it was time to rebook your travel, you could only use it for the originally ticketed passenger. Plus, you couldn’t combine several credits to purchase a more expensive fare.

Say you canceled three one-way flights: one for $100 from New York to Miami, one for $200 from New York to Charlotte and one for $300 from New York to Dallas/Fort Worth. Well, if you ultimately decided to book a trip from New York to California for $600 in business class, you couldn’t redeem all three credits at once.

If you were making the purchase on AA’s website, you’d be limited to redeeming just one credit per passenger. If you instead called the reservations department, they’d be able to use a maximum of two Flight Credits towards your new trip. But that third one? You’d be forced to hang onto it for another time.

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

American’s new go-to form of credit, “Trip Credits,” doesn’t have either of those restrictions.

“Trip Credits” are transferrable — you can use your voucher to pay for travel for yourself or others. Better yet, you can combine up to eight “Trip Credits” together towards the purchase of a new reservation.

There are several other notable reasons why “Trip Credits” are far more flexible than “Flight Credits.” For one, they can be used to purchase Oneworld and other airline partner itineraries through AA’s reservation team. You can also add multiple passengers onto a single reservation, which could help you share elite benefits, like upgrades, priority boarding and complimentary seat assignments, with your travel companions.

Plus, they’re stored in your AAdvantage loyalty profile, making it quite easy to keep track of and redeem them.

For now, only select travelers will see their “Flight Credits” converted into “Trip Credits.” Throughout August, American confirmed to TPG that it’s been converting credits from single-passenger itineraries belonging to AAdvantage loyalty members, with more details and conversions coming soon.

Eligible travelers should check their email for a note from American with the subject line “Update to Your Travel Credit.” The email contains details about the conversion process, as well as your new credit information.

Sample email sent from American regarding the credit conversion process (Screenshot courtesy of American Airlines)

In a statement shared with TPG, a carrier spokesperson wrote that,

As we welcome travelers back to the air, we are making it as easy as possible for our customers to fly on American. One way we’re doing that is by evaluating our travel credits and identifying ways to simplify the redemption process and give customers more flexibility. Some of the improvements we have already made include securely storing travel credits for AAdvantage members, allowing easy access to their travel credits on aa.com or the American app. It’s an area that we’ll keep looking at and improving.

Ultimately, the goal is to unify all travel credits into one type to make it easier for customers to do business with AA. Still, the airline told TPG that it’s going to take some time before the entire process is finished and there’s no immediate timeline for when it’ll be complete.

Either way, this is a welcome improvement from American, and it comes as the airline continues to implement flyer-friendly policies in response to the pandemic. In recent months, American has loosened restrictions on basic economy tickets, eliminated AAdvantage award change and cancel fees and removed phone service charges, among others.

And now, with this latest initiative, the carrier is making it easier than ever to use your existing travel credits.

Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy

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