How to Use Travel Funds on United

by Ann deBruyn

Like other major U.S. airlines, United provides travel funds for its customers. These can come about as a gift due to a canceled flight or other reasons. However, finding and using these funds isn’t the most intuitive experience. So let’s look at how to apply travel funds on United, where you can find them and the different types of travel funds.

How do you get United travel funds?

There are three major types of travel funds that you’ll find within your United account.

Future flight credit

  • When you cancel an eligible flight: Let’s say you purchased a nonrefundable flight in 2021 but needed to cancel it as government restrictions made it impossible to travel. United has eliminated change fees for most of its flights (excluding basic economy), including all those that originate in the U.S. In this case, you’ll receive future flight credit valid for later travel.

  • When you change your flight to a less expensive fare: If you need to alter your flight and the new fare is cheaper than the previous one, the remaining funds will become a travel credit.

Electronic travel certificate

  • When you volunteer for a bump: Airlines overbook their seats to maximize efficiency. However, they have too many passengers on the plane in some cases and need volunteers to take a later flight. You can earn a travel certificate for doing this.

  • As a gesture of goodwill: In some cases, United may be willing to offer you travel credits for future travel.

United TravelBank cash

Unlike airlines such as Delta, United doesn’t sell gift cards. Instead, it offers the United TravelBank. You can purchase TravelBank cash in six different increments, and there’s no limit to the amount of TravelBank funds you can buy each year. However, there is a limit of $5,000 per day on TravelBank purchases and they’re all nonrefundable.

You will need to be logged in to your MileagePlus account to purchase TravelBank cash.

Where can you see your United travel fund balance?

Searching for either of your United travel funds is simple. First, you’ll need to log in to your account using the “Sign In” button in the top right corner of the United homepage.

Once you’ve logged in, you’ll want to go to your main profile page. From here, you’ll want to select the Wallet dropdown:

This will show you all the different methods you have available to pay for your United tickets. For example, if you’re searching for flight credits from canceled flights, you’ll want to select Travel Credits. If you’re looking for United TravelBank funds, you’ll want to choose the TravelBank tab.

Future flight credits will display your confirmation number and the time you have left until your credits expire.

Your TravelBank balance is also available and will show how long you have before those funds expire.

How long are United travel funds good for?

  • Future flight credits: These credits can be used for up to a year after the original issue date of the ticket.

  • Electronic travel certificates: These are valid for up to 24 months after they were issued.

  • TravelBank cash: This credit is valid for five years from the date it was deposited into your account.

What can United travel funds be used for?

  • Future flight credits. These can be used for flights on United and partner-operated flights. You can also use these credits for other purchases such as Basic economy seat selection, Economy Plus seating and preferred seat selections. Future flight credits must be used by the person on the original ticket.

  • Electronic travel certificates. These have the same limitations as future flight credits. However, these certificates can be used by any traveler.

  • TravelBank cash. These funds are only applicable towards flights.

Can I use more than one certificate at a time?

The rules for applying travel funds will differ depending on which types you hold.

  • Future flight credits: You could only apply one credit to each booking if these credits stemmed from a canceled flight. If you’ve received a future flight credit due to changing to a cheaper fare, you can combine multiple credits at once.

  • Electronic travel certificate: You can apply up to 10 of these to your booking.

Steps on using your United travel funds

Applying your travel funds to a United flight is both easy and intuitive. First, you’ll want to search for a flight directly on the United site.

Your United funds can be used for any class of service, no matter which cabin you’d initially booked. At this point, you’ll select whichever flight suits your needs.

The next page will include your traveler information, including your name, birth date and frequent flyer info. This will all need to be filled out before continuing to the next page.

Nerdy tip: TravelBank funds can’t be used to pay the taxes and fees on an award flight.

You’ll need to click through seat selection and other bundle options to reach the checkout page.

You can either apply your travel credits or your TravelBank cash to your flight costs. As we noted above, how many you’ll be able to add to your booking will depend on the type you hold.

If your TravelBank balance doesn’t cover your total flight cost, United may allow you to cover the cost by combining TravelBank cash with:

  • MileagePlus Miles.

  • Cash.

  • Credit Cards.

  • Travel certificates.

If you’re looking to use your United travel funds

United has three primary options for its travel funds, including future flight credits, travel certificates for canceled flights and purchased TravelBank cash. Apply these funds when purchasing a flight, though you’ll want to be aware of any limitations before you book.

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