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United gives customers more time to use travel vouchers and flight credits

Aug. 31, 2021
3 min read
United gives customers more time to use travel vouchers and flight credits
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Update 9/1/21: United now allows customers to redeem Electronic Travel Certificates (ETCs) for flights operated by partner airlines, as long as your itinerary includes at least one segment operated by United or United Express. The text below has been updated to reflect this change.


United Airlines issues two types of travel credits, which customers can use to offset the cost of flights. I explain how each certificate works in this guide, and I'll run through the basics below.

The most common type, called a "future flight credit," is linked to a flight reservation — if you cancel your itinerary or move to a lower-cost flight, the balance remains intact until the expiration date. These particular credits can only be used by the original traveler, but they're valid for flights operated by both United and partners.

The other type of credit, Electronic Travel Certificates (ETCs), are typically issued as compensation for limited flight delays, cancellations and customer service issues. If you get "bumped" from a flight, for example, you'll be getting an ETC. These credits can be shared with other travelers, and can be used to book partner flights as long as your itinerary includes at least once segment operated by United and United Express.

Related: AA is making it much easier to redeem your existing travel credits

Now, United is extending both of these credit types, giving travelers more time to book a flight.

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As the airline explains, "As part of an ongoing effort to offer more flexibility, we’ve extended the validity of eligible tickets and travel credits through Dec. 31, 2022. Tickets purchased January 1, 2022 and beyond will have a 12-month validity from the date of purchase."

Future flight credits issued between May 1, 2019, and Dec. 31, 2021, will now be valid through Dec. 31, 2022. Similarly, ETCs expiring between Aug. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021 will be valid through Dec. 31, 2022. Partially used tickets will remain valid for 12 months after the first flight in an itinerary.

United recently made it easier to redeem credits online or via the airline's mobile app. Begin by selecting the flights you'd like to book — on the checkout page, you can select "Electronic certificates" or "Future flight credits" to apply the amount to your purchase.

(Screenshot courtesy of United)

Note that you can't mix these credit types for one booking, but you can combine multiple ETCs or multiple future flight credits to purchase one ticket. For the latter, you'll need to make sure the passenger's name matches exactly.

As a reminder, if the airline cancels your flight, you may be eligible for a full refund to your original form of payment. While carriers prefer that you accept a travel credit, you'll have more flexibility by requesting a full refund if it's due.

Featured image by United's latest initiative should further limit the number of passengers traveling in middle seats. Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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5XGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
1.5XEarn 1.5X points on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year
1X1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Intro Offer
    The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 150,000 points
    120,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Good, Excellent

Why We Chose It

It's hard to find a card that competes with the mile-long list of benefits that come with the Amex Business Platinum. While it's certainly not the card for the average consumer, a business owner with tons of expenses -- especially related to travel -- will find this card incredibly valuable. This card is similar to the consumer version that Amex offers, but with more business-oriented perks around statement credits and earning rates that are a better fit for business owners.

Pros

  • An up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee every four to five years
  • Up to $400 annual credit for eligible U.S. Dell purchases (enrollment required)
  • Gold status at Marriott and Hilton hotels (enrollment required)
  • Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program and Hotel Collection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • International Airline Program and Cruise Privileges Program

Cons

  • Steep annual fee
  • Difficulty meeting $15,000 welcome offer for smaller businesses
  • Limited high-bonus categories outside of travel
  • The Points Guy Exclusive Offer: Earn 150,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card® within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com, and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases.
  • Earn 1.5X points (that’s an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
  • Unlock over $1,000 in annual statement credits on a curation of business purchases, including select purchases made with Dell Technologies, Indeed, Adobe, and U.S. wireless service providers.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year for checked baggage fees, lounge day passes, and more at one selected airline.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at more than 50 U.S. airports and stadiums.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more lounge location options than any other credit card on the market as of 9/2021.
  • $695 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.