How United Flight Credits Work, And How To Extend Them

How United Flight Credits Work, And How To Extend Them

26

For consumers, one positive thing about the pandemic was that many airlines introduced more flexible policies when it comes to changing or canceling tickets. For example, with the “big three” US carriers, you can now generally cancel a ticket, and apply the credit toward a future itinerary (there are exceptions, like basic economy tickets).

In the past, I’ve written guides to American’s trip credits and flight credits and to Delta’s eCredits. In this post I wanted to take a look at United’s flight credits, which are the currency by which United issues vouchers for canceled tickets. There’s even a trick to extending the expiration date of these, which I’ll cover.

United’s flight credit travel vouchers explained

United’s future flight credits are what’s issued by the Chicago-based carrier when you cancel or change a ticket, and have a residual value that you can apply toward a future ticket. United flight credits have a specific monetary value. Think of them as a form of payment toward the cost of a United ticket or select other United purchases.

Let’s discuss some of the important details regarding these. Note that these are separate from United’s travel certificates, which are issued as compensation for service issues, or if a flight is oversold. To keep things simple, in this post I’m focusing specifically on flight credits from canceled or changed tickets.

For how long are United flight credits valid?

United flight credits are generally valid for one year from the date that a ticket was initially issued. Note that you need to commence travel by the expiration date, so if you book a roundtrip ticket, the outbound travel at least needs to start before the expiration date. This is an important detail, as the expiration date isn’t just the date by which you have to book.

To give an example, let’s say you issue a ticket on January 1, 2024, for travel on June 1, 2024, and then later need to cancel the ticket. You would then need to redeem the flight credit by January 1, 2025, and your travel would actually need to start by then.

During the pandemic, United extended some flight credits with more flexible policies, though this is the standard policy going forward.

Can you use United flight credits for others?

United flight credits are non-transferrable, so must be used by the person who they were initially assigned to. In situations where a reservation had multiple passengers on it, each passenger would be issued their individual flight credit, and would still need to use it individually.

Do United flight credits maintain residual value?

If you have a $500 United flight credit and apply it toward a $250 ticket, do you lose the residual $250 value, or maintain it? The good news is that United flight credits maintain their residual value, so you can apply the credit toward smaller purchase amounts without issue, without losing value.

Note that the residual flight credits maintain the same expiration date as the initial ticket (though as I’ll explain below, there’s a trick to extending the expiration date).

What can United flight credits be used for?

United flight credits are quite flexible. They can be used toward a ticket on United, United Express, and partner-operated flights issued through the United website or mobile app. They can also be applied toward non-flight purchases, like Economy Plus seating, seat assignments, and preferred seating.

The catch is that you must apply flight credits at the time you initially ticket your reservation, so that’s the only time you can use them toward ancillaries. You couldn’t use flight credits for an Economy Plus seating upgrade on a ticket that has already been booked, for example.

How do you find United flight credits?

If you’re a United MileagePlus member, you should be able to find any flight credits attached to your account by logging into your MileagePlus account. Then on the “My United” page, go to “Wallet,” and then “Travel credits.”

Look up your United flight credits in your MileagePlus account

In the event that you’re not a MileagePlus member, or if it’s not showing up correctly for whatever reason, you can find your United travel credits at this link. There you can look up your flight credits based on the confirmation number of your initial ticket, plus your last name.

Look up your United flight credits on united.com

How do you redeem United flight credits?

Redeeming United flight credits is easy. Just go through the process of booking a ticket, and when you get to the payment page, select “Travel credits” as the payment method.

Redeem United flight credits during the booking process

You can combine multiple flight credits toward the cost of a ticket, though you can’t combine flight credits and travel certificates toward a single purchase.

Can you extend United flight credits?

There’s a trick to extending the expiration of a United flight credit, which can come in handy. Just use your flight credit toward a future ticket that’s a little more expensive than the value of your travel credit, and when you cancel your ticket, you’ll be issued a new flight credit valid for an additional year.

For example, say you have a $250 flight credit expiring on December 31, 2023:

  • Book a ticket that costs slightly more than $250, so that you’re using the entire travel credit, plus you’re paying a little bit more in cash
  • Then if you cancel the ticket (after the 24 hour free cancelation period) you’ll be issued a flight credit for the entire new amount (value of all the flight credit plus the cash amount paid)
  • That new flight credit will be valid from the date that the new ticket was issued, giving you an entire year to use the voucher

Bottom line

Nowadays most United Airlines tickets have quite a bit of flexibility. There’s sometimes confusion about how long vouchers are valid for, who they can be redeemed for, and if they can be extended, so hopefully the above is a useful rundown of how United’s flight credit system works.

I think the most important thing to understand is that it’s easy to extend the expiration of United flight credits simply by booking a new flight that’s slightly more expensive than the value of the credit, and then canceling it. You’ll be issued a new voucher that’s then valid for a year.

What has your experience been with United flight credits?

Conversations (26)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. A C Guest

    I did something by accident that worked - I booked flights we already had (booked on miles but cash fare got cheap). When they saw I was double booked, they cancel the cash fare booked with a credit and reissued the credit with the new date

  2. Refunded Guest

    I was able to extend the future flight credits expiring with an extra step. As said in the blogpost, I booked a fully refundable flight for the credit amount plus extra and cancelled for a full refund. The extra step here was to use the change option to change the flight to another date before cancellation, a date after the expiration date. I ended up paying a $0.40 for the change. I was refunded all...

    I was able to extend the future flight credits expiring with an extra step. As said in the blogpost, I booked a fully refundable flight for the credit amount plus extra and cancelled for a full refund. The extra step here was to use the change option to change the flight to another date before cancellation, a date after the expiration date. I ended up paying a $0.40 for the change. I was refunded all the extra payments to the original payment method and flight credit was basically extended for another year.
    Caveat, this process had go through a united agent. Took 3-4 days for the credit to be approved after cancellation. I don’t know if it is a policy for refund or the agent was feeling benevolent, ymmv. I had around $750 in flight credits.

  3. Brian Guest

    Does anyone know if this also works for electronic travel vouchers? I bought some years ago when they had a mileage special. I did this trick a few years ago but I understood United stopped extending the expiration date on these a couple of years ago. I have four that expire at the end of December and we aren't going to be able to use them as I also think travel has to be completed...

    Does anyone know if this also works for electronic travel vouchers? I bought some years ago when they had a mileage special. I did this trick a few years ago but I understood United stopped extending the expiration date on these a couple of years ago. I have four that expire at the end of December and we aren't going to be able to use them as I also think travel has to be completed before 12/31 rather than just redeemed. Anyone have experience with this issue? Thanks.

  4. Natasha Guest

    I called United today, and there is NOTHING you can do to extend. If buying a new ticket with credits then canceling, you will still have the same expiration date and any extra funds will a year from purchase date. Don't try this folks. If it worked before, it will not work again.

  5. Mel Guest

    @STEFFL I bought ticket from my United travel bank and when the ticket was canceled, I thought the funds would go back to my travel bank. BUT NOPE, I got a travel credit that expires 1 years from date of purchase ... which is in 15 days.

  6. Zich Member

    I wonder if anyone from the OMAAT community can share advice on my situation:

    I had some credits from COVID times. Soon after, I moved to Europe and had little use for those. A friend was flying from CDG to SFO, so I let her use my credits. However, she changed her itinerary and canceled the tickets. Now I have $1200 credits in my account under my friend's name. Can I ask UA to transfer those credits to a nameless certificate or at least to my name?

    1. Mel Guest

      Same thing happened to me twice because my friend I bought the ticket for has a husband who had a stroke and then another one! The first credit I called and got a new code so that anybody can use the credit. The second one I still need to call about. It is ridiculous that United Airlines issues credits in someone else's name in your account. I couldn't use it since it is not in...

      Same thing happened to me twice because my friend I bought the ticket for has a husband who had a stroke and then another one! The first credit I called and got a new code so that anybody can use the credit. The second one I still need to call about. It is ridiculous that United Airlines issues credits in someone else's name in your account. I couldn't use it since it is not in my name and my friend has no access to my account to use it. The customer service rep I spoke to agreed, especially since I bought the tickets from my United travel bank. I thought the funds would just go back to my travel bank.

  7. Chris Guest

    I have a ticket booked for someone else where the extension trick did not work, it still claims the original expiry date when I try to cancel it.

    1. Kevin Guest

      This is happening to me too. On cancellation I have the same expiry date as before.

    2. Kevin Guest

      Tried again for another $1, the new ticket shows the original ticketing date. So I suspect when I cancel I’ll get the same credit expiry date.

    3. LovetoFly Member

      You have to cancel AFTER the 24 hour period. If you cancel during the initial 24 hour period the original expiration date is retained.

    4. Daniel Guest

      I tried canceling after 48 hours and it still shows the same expiry date....

    5. Kevin Guest

      I tried both cancelling before and cancelling after 24 hours. I tried using a refundable fare and a nonrefundable fare. Not sure what else I can try.

  8. Lee Guest

    Very helpful information. I have a different problem which must be common among the guests: how to prevent our hard-earned miles from expiring. I have a lot of ANA miles which will expire in March 2024. Trying to find a decent award flights on ANA to Japan/Asia is like finding a pin in a haystack! Please let us know what we can extend our miles before they expire. Can we use them to buy any award ticket, then cancel it to extend them for another year?

  9. tony Guest

    I had some credit expiring Dec 31 so I found a random flight to anywhere for a few bucks more and booked it. Basic economy and canceled it a couple days later. I now have a new credit with a begin travel date for Dec 2024.

    1. Chris Guest

      You can’t cancel a basic economy flight unless you pay $49

    2. EZB Guest

      Doesn’t canceling any ticket that isn’t fully refundable lose you some money?

    3. Mel Guest

      are you sure the ticket was basic economy?

  10. Richmond_Surrey Guest

    Combining credits may shorten their validity period. If you use two credits, remaining amount on the second credit will be made valid to the same date as first one. So make sure, you know, what you're doing.

  11. Maximus Prime Guest

    You could also buy a full flex ticket and then cancel it - that's how I did it :)

    1. Trey Guest

      If full flex same as refundable? What did you get back? Flight credit with new expiration? Credit back to your card for entire ticket amount (incl. flight credits previously held)?

    2. Andrew Guest

      Very interested to know how this worked.

    3. STEFFL Gold

      cancelled tickets ALWAYS refund to the "original" way of payment! If used travelcredut it will ge refunded as new travel credit if used Cash/creditcard for payment, it will be refunded to original form of payment used, even if that creditcard does NOT exist anymore, if used cash and travel credit it will be refunded just that way, the ticket was paid for, travel credit part and dash part! Simple as that.

    4. Kevin Guest

      That’s not what united did to me. They took my extra $25 and put it in the same expiring travel credit even though I canceled within 24 hours. Then they refused my partial refund request.

    5. LovetoFly Member

      Thats the problem. You have to cancel AFTER the 24 hour period. If you cancel during the initial 24 hour period the original expiration date is retained.

    6. Kevin Guest

      I wish that fixed it but it doesn’t. I didn’t look too hard for a cheap additional fare on this one since I thought worst case scenario at least the additional fare would be refunded. But no. And cancelling after 24 hours also doesn’t work.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

A C Guest

I did something by accident that worked - I booked flights we already had (booked on miles but cash fare got cheap). When they saw I was double booked, they cancel the cash fare booked with a credit and reissued the credit with the new date

0
Refunded Guest

I was able to extend the future flight credits expiring with an extra step. As said in the blogpost, I booked a fully refundable flight for the credit amount plus extra and cancelled for a full refund. The extra step here was to use the change option to change the flight to another date before cancellation, a date after the expiration date. I ended up paying a $0.40 for the change. I was refunded all the extra payments to the original payment method and flight credit was basically extended for another year. Caveat, this process had go through a united agent. Took 3-4 days for the credit to be approved after cancellation. I don’t know if it is a policy for refund or the agent was feeling benevolent, ymmv. I had around $750 in flight credits.

0
Brian Guest

Does anyone know if this also works for electronic travel vouchers? I bought some years ago when they had a mileage special. I did this trick a few years ago but I understood United stopped extending the expiration date on these a couple of years ago. I have four that expire at the end of December and we aren't going to be able to use them as I also think travel has to be completed before 12/31 rather than just redeemed. Anyone have experience with this issue? Thanks.

0
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
5,163,247 Miles Traveled

32,614,600 Words Written

35,045 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT