You can book United flights now and pay later, but should you?

Nov 14, 2019

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United Airlines is now offering travelers the option to book flights now and pay later with the travel finance service, Uplift.

The service’s main focus is making travel more attainable for some by offering monthly payment options when purchasing flights. The service is currently available for a number of airlines, including Spirit, Allegiant, Southwest Vacations, American Airlines Vacations, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Kayak, Universal Orlando Studios — and now United as well.

How Uplift works

Once you’ve selected your flight and are ready to check out, you’ll be given the option to pay in full or select a monthly payment option with Uplift. However, in order to qualify for the loan, you have to be approved. To see if you’re eligible, you’ll have to consent to a credit profile check. From there, you’ll find out if you are accepted and what your rate offer is right on the spot.

If you choose to go with the monthly payment, you’ll have 11 months from the time of purchase to repay your ticket. Depending on your credit history, interest rates can range from 9% to 35.99%. All of the fees and costs for the loan are included in the upfront annual percentage rate (APR) disclosures and in the quoted interest rate, so don’t gloss over the fine print.

When does Uplift make sense?

As a general rule of thumb, it’s not the best idea to buy something you can’t afford. However, there are certain situations where it’s out of our control and having an option like this can save the day. For instance, if you have to book a last-minute emergency flight and can’t swing the cost then this could be an option worth exploring.

If you do take advantage of Uplift’s payment option, then you’ll want to pay it off as soon as you can to avoid accumulating interest. However, you may be better off putting it on a credit card that has 0% or a low APR rate. It really just depends on what interest rate you’re quoted for and how soon you expect to pay the loan back.

When it comes to earning points and miles, Uplift claims that customers are still eligible to earn the typical points and miles that come with the respective credit card. For example, if you use the United Explorer Card on a United booking that’s paid for by Uplift, you’ll still earn 2x miles on the purchase each time a payment is processed.

Bottom line

Using Uplift could be a great option if you have to take a last-minute emergency trip. Otherwise, it’s best not to get yourself into any potential debt just so you could take a spontaneous vacation. There are plenty of ways to earn points and miles every day that could ultimately lead to booking your dream vacation. As the old saying goes: “Good things come to those who wait.” In this case, don’t rush a trip that you’re not financially prepared for — focus on upping your points and miles game instead.

(Featured photo by Scott Mayerowitz/The Points Guy)

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