Tuesday Travel Tip: You can get an airline voucher with a bonus just by asking
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
To help you plan your future travels while we’re all stuck on the ground, we’re launching “Tuesday Travel Tips.” Check back for a new travel tip every week!
As they say, it never hurts to ask.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen airlines across the world quickly slash schedules, reduce frequencies and park large portions of their fleet. This has led to massive cancellations and significant schedule changes, which is good news if you’re looking for a refund for your nonrefundable ticket.
That’s because you are entitled to a refund when an airline cancels your flight — even if the airline says otherwise. But, with very few new bookings, cash flow is drying up — and carriers are doing all that they can to avoid giving your money back.
That includes waiting until the last minute to cancel flights, thereby expecting more customers to make voluntary changes instead of asking for a refund.
For more travel tips and news, sign up for our daily newsletter!
But one trend we’ve seen across airlines worldwide is the rise in those giving out vouchers or future travel credits in lieu of a refund. That way, an airline can keep your money in an interest-free loan, helping pad their cash flow numbers.
Unless your flight was canceled or significantly rescheduled, you won’t have a choice of getting a refund for a nonrefundable ticket. That means you’re going to be stuck with a voucher if you decide to voluntarily cancel your ticket.
But if the airline makes an involuntary change to your reservation, then you can get your money back. And that’s exactly when airlines will try their hardest to get you to choose a voucher instead.
Now that the ball’s in your court, it’s time to start negotiating. In order to incentivize you to take the voucher, the airline needs to add some promotional value or loosen some of the terms. Otherwise, there’s no reason to accept one over cold, hard cash.
While I’ve previously argued that it makes sense to take a refund instead of a credit (even with a bonus), we’ve seen some incredibly generous offers recently that have me second-guessing myself.
Sure, in the majority of cases, I’d still take a refund, but with two U.S. airlines, it might make sense to ask for a voucher.
You see, when American Airlines cancels a flight, you can submit a refund request. But, throughout that process, you’re going to be offered (at least) twice to accept a voucher. In my experience, I’ve been offered credits with up to a 20% bonus.
These eVouchers can be used by anyone and expire one year from the date of issue. Combined with a 20% bonus, I’m in. (It doesn’t hurt that I’m an American Airlines Executive Platinum member who’s looking to requalify in 2021).
I’ve heard reports of readers getting similar offers from American via the phone too. And even if an agent doesn’t initially offer, you should always ask.
The same is true with JetBlue. Although the airline has been stingy about refunds, its customer service agents are empowered to be very generous with providing travel bank credit. If you decide to cancel or postpone a trip, you should ask about the possibility of getting a bonus credit.
This strategy has paid off for some TPG staffers, who’ve received a 20% bonus. Like AA’s eVouchers, travel bank credit can be used by anyone. Plus, the airline just extended the validity of the credit from one year to two, giving you more time to use it.
As such, if you live near a JetBlue focus city, there’s little reason not to accept the voucher.
Related: A look at JetBlue by the numbers
Anecdotally, we’ve heard that Frontier and Spirit are also offering bonuses to those who ask. They’ve both been giving $50 additional credit for those with canceled flights. However, these vouchers have long lists of terms and conditions including that they can only be used by the originally ticketed passenger with strict expiration policies.
Aside from all the confusing terms, some airlines may not make it out alive after the coronavirus outbreak. If you’ve got a voucher for a defunct carrier, it’s worth nada. That’s why I’d only consider taking one with an airline I’m sure will survive, like American and JetBlue.
Just because we’ve heard reports of some U.S. airlines offering bonus vouchers to those who ask, doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get one. Typically, these promotions are only offered when your flight was changed or canceled by the airline, since the alternative is getting your cash back.
It’s also possible that American uses your Helix Score or other internal metric when deciding how much value to add to your voucher. But one thing’s for certain, you won’t know until you ask.
So the next time you call to make a change or cancel your flight, ask if you can get a bonus on a future travel credit. After all, you won’t know until you try.
Featured photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees