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UA "TravelBank" Q&A , with option to deposit funds

Old Dec 3, 2020, 5:44 pm
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Last edit by: WineCountryUA
United Travel Bank is an online account in which funds can be stored for future purchase of United or United express flights, as well as certain subscription products on United.com and the United mobile app. Other types of purchases (e.g. certain upgrades, inflight purchases) are not currently eligible. If you have an available Travel Bank balance and are making an eligible purchase, the option to use Travel Bank will appear at checkout. Travel Bank funds can be used in combination with another commercial payment method (i.e., not including FFCs or ETCs) in an amount of the userís choosing. User-purchased funds expire 5 years after deposit; funds received through credit cards and other promotions may expire earlier. Purchases as need to be in USD $ and point of sale USA.
See TravelBank Terms and Conditions

History
The United Travel Bank has been around for many years. UA had a program where purchasing a ticket on united.com would receive a $5 Travel Bank bonus. This was called united.com Club and had an annual $25 subscription fee. This ended in early 2020. But funds are still accessible for 18 months after earning. Also at one time the Travel Bank had a Gift Registry pre-2018. For more on those prior Travel Bank Programs, see "TravelBank"- United.com Club & Gift Registry Q&A - No new/renewals as of 23 Apr 2019 Then for a period of time, Chase / UA offered a 1.5% cash-back Travel Bank credit card where the cash-back went into the Travel Bank, that ended Sept 2020 Chase United TravelBank Card becoming non-cashback Chase MP Gateway Card 21 Sept 2020
In July 2020, the Travel Bank was recasted as a cash pre-funding option that might have a short term bonus offering -- cash or miles or both.

Potential Uses
TravelBank purchases can be used to assist in meeting credit card spend requirements and accumulating points/miles (including on United co-branded cards). Additionally, TravelBank can be used for bank credit card travel reimbursement funds (e.g. AMEX). As of 2022, certain IHG credit cards provide users with a $50 deposit of TravelBank funds every six months for short-term use. New Chase IHG Credit Card Options

Q&A

What can I use Travel Bank funds for?
1. Only for an all UA-operated itinerary
2. Most United subscriptions (E+, baggage, wifi, etc.)
3. Not for in-flight purchases, post-purchase E+ access or upgrades
4. Cannot be used to pay just taxes on flights or other purchases, per the current T&Cs
5. But, T&Cs do mention "TravelBank Awards" as eligible purchases -- miles & cash co-payments???? Unclear what this is referring to
6. Including a Travel Bundle may block TB usage

Technical Limitations
- Sometimes the app is more reliable than the website. It may sometimes still fail to show as a payment option and you may need to use an phone/twitter/FB/... agent.
- There have been reports that the Travel Bank option may not appear if doing Advance Flight Searches with options selected such as upgrade availability. Also, may not show TB as a payment when coming from Google flight.
- For those with "Business Travel" option, when your account is linked to a UA corporate account, TravelBank may not be available. It does seems to be available for "Break from Business" usage

Do Travel Bank funds expire?
They could per T&Cs
- Older methods for funding -- united.com, travel bank card cash back .... have 18 month expiration from last deposit
- New cash funds have a 5 years expiration from deposit
- Bonus from cash deposit -- depends on promo T&Cs but recent terms have been 4 months
- Each $1 TravelBank Cash issued as Chase purchase bonus is valid through June 30, 2022
- CLEAR signup
$100 TravelBank credits will be valid for 9 months (late Aug/early Sept 2021) after the credit is deposited into memberís accounts.

Where can I see my Travel Bank balance / expiration?
Look in your My Account section and click on Details. https://www.united.com/en/US/account/travelbank

Funds have to be used / trip booked by expiration. Travel can be after expiration

Where can I add funds?
https://www.united.com/offers/travelcash or https://www.united.com/en/US/account/travelbank
Members can choose from six purchase amount options and once purchased the value remains valid for five years from the date it is deposited in your TravelBank account. Purchases are not refundable and are limited to $5,000 per day per MileagePlus account. This purchase is also subject to all of the TravelBank terms and conditions.
Do I get PQP credit for flight purchases with Travel Bank funds?
Yes, UA treats the Travel Bank funds just like a cash purchase

What if I refund a ticket purchased with Travel Bank funds?
When cancelling within 24 hours, the funds go back to original form of purchase, so the Travel Bank portion of the funds go back to the Travel Bank. (most likely with original expiration date and not a new date). FFCs will be issued for non-refundable tickets cancelled more than 24 hours after purchase.

For a refundable ticket purchased with Travel Bank or any ticket refunded in 24 hours of original purchase, funds should go back to Travel Bank, even when cancelled more than 24 hours after purchase. However, changing to a cheaper fare will result in the fare difference not crediting back to Travel Bank. Instead, cancel the ticket and rebook. Note return of TB refunds can takes multiple days or even up to 2 weeks. TB fund use may not be a good idea if a refundable cancellation is a high probability,

Can you use Travel Bank funds in conjunction with a Credit Card and/or ETCs?
Yes, you can select to pay in whole or in part with Travel Bank funds and then the remainder, if any, with the other forms of payment. There have been mixed reports about ETCs -- YMMV

Can you "deposit" your ETCs (or FFCs) into your Travel Bank?
No

Can I use the Travel Bank funds to purchase a ticket to someone else?
Yes but you have to be the purchaser

Can I transfer Travel Bank funds to someone else?
No

Can I cash out my Travel Bank funds?
No

What merchant category is Travel Bank?
It's treated as an airline purchase. American Express posts it as a ticketing fee while pending and then changes to just United Airlines.

Why does Travel Bank state "This offer has ended?"
This message appears during website maintenance.

Does Travel Bank count as a reimbursable incidental with American Express?
This topic is discussed in a separate thread. Do not contact Amex.

Does Travel Bank count as a reimbursable incidental for other credit cards? Post your experiences
Yes, for BoA cards

Archive: UA "TravelBank" Q&A {Archive}

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UA "TravelBank" Q&A , with option to deposit funds

Old Feb 1, 2023, 9:26 pm
  #91  
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Originally Posted by neuro0
I was trying to see if there are any options for the flight credit. I vaguely remember seeing it within 24 hours awhile ago.
Pre-COVID, at least at some point pre-COVID - donít know exactly when it changed, if you canceled within 24 hours, it would ask if you wanted a refund to original form of payment, or keep $ in a travel credit. As I said, not sure when that changed to automatic refund without asking, but it sure happened. Wouldnít be surprised if pax or DOT complaints convinced them if people were feeling they could be Ďtrickedí into taking credit vs. refund. But maybe something else.

So yes, wait 24 hours. FFC is instant at that point - especially since, as I explained in another thread a few days ago, the credit is essentially the original PNR with the segments that were in there canceled/removed, and so just have the funds remaining.
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Old Feb 6, 2023, 1:54 am
  #92  
 
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Question for those in the know:
I used TB funds to purchase group of 4 people for travel in June. Got an email saying the flight times have changed, and the new time requires us to cancel the tickets. HOWEVER, I don't want the funds to be made into FFC, as I don't expect the same members of this group to travel anytime soon.

Can the $ be credited back to the TB as it was UA's schedule change the resulted in the need to cancel?

TIA
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Old Feb 9, 2023, 9:21 am
  #93  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 71
FCC access

I have a question about control/access to FFC for a group.

I want to use the TB to FFC trick in order to book LH metal. My hiccup is the fact that it would be a reservation for a group of 4.

Does anybody have experience with a ticket change of this kind? My concern may be obvious: If I cancel the 4 tickets and get a different FFC for each individual, will I have the same control over those when I try to use them for a fresh reservation? In other words: Can I access all FCC in My United?

The itinerary will not change. But this detour would enable me to use up TB funds on United before I turn around and get a lower price and a more convenient routing on LH.
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Old Feb 9, 2023, 2:46 pm
  #94  
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Originally Posted by luv2ctheworld
Question for those in the know:
I used TB funds to purchase group of 4 people for travel in June. Got an email saying the flight times have changed, and the new time requires us to cancel the tickets. HOWEVER, I don't want the funds to be made into FFC, as I don't expect the same members of this group to travel anytime soon.

Can the $ be credited back to the TB as it was UA's schedule change the resulted in the need to cancel?

TIA
if this is a major schedule change (>2 hours of departure or arrival times), yes, you should be able to refund.

note I donít think thereís a lot of DPs, but expiry date of the TB funds may revert back to original. YMMV. It also takes up to 21 days for it to be refunded (had to go through manual processing).

you can also ask about having the funds in an ETC, but not necessarily SOP, so YMMV.

Originally Posted by Saturn
I have a question about control/access to FFC for a group.

I want to use the TB to FFC trick in order to book LH metal. My hiccup is the fact that it would be a reservation for a group of 4.

Does anybody have experience with a ticket change of this kind? My concern may be obvious: If I cancel the 4 tickets and get a different FFC for each individual, will I have the same control over those when I try to use them for a fresh reservation? In other words: Can I access all FCC in My United?

The itinerary will not change. But this detour would enable me to use up TB funds on United before I turn around and get a lower price and a more convenient routing on LH.
this really has zero to do with TB, and mostly about how FFCs work. After 24 hours, form of payment has zero effect on canceling, since itís not refundable.

that said, my experience is I can see the FFCs for all trips booked in my account. Double that for those on the same PNR, as the FFC is the same PNR.

note that in order to use all of the funds. The new tickets would need to involve the same 4 pax, and at least the same cost pp, as once in an FFC, that amount canít be transferred to another. That said,
It does not all need to be booked in the same new trip. You could, for example, book yourself on a new PNR with your portion, then book others on a new trip later. Those funds are still available for them, and searchable by PNR if for some reason itís not automatically showing. As always, ideal to rebook in a fresh, new PNR, and using the FFC as form of payment.

To add, didnít see the new tickets would be less than existing. So when you rebook, the excess value of existing tickets will remain in the existing, original PNR. Again, those funds would be equally allocated to each of the pax, so that leftover amount would need to be used on new trip(s) for all 4 pax.

Last edited by emcampbe; Feb 9, 2023 at 2:51 pm
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Old Feb 9, 2023, 7:28 pm
  #95  
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 71
Thanks for the assurance. It is really about the FFC, i. e. my being able to use them for everybody on the new booking. The trip will happen for all travelers on the PNR. I just have to get creative to liquidate my entire TB, and I was taking fare difference into account.

My plan is to effectively make a dummy booking for different dates at $1100 pp for the connection. The return on the actual date with LH will be about $1200.

It's good I can ask here to get real answers. Last night one United chat agent insisted that I wouldn't even get FFCs after cancelling because it would go back to TB. So I tried the phone instead and seemed to be interrupting a party in Kolkata, going by the hilarity in the background. That person suggested using ETC.

"But wouldn't that exclude flights on partner airlines?"

"We can work with you to get around that."

Party on Garth!
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Old Feb 9, 2023, 10:42 pm
  #96  
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Originally Posted by Saturn
... Last night one United chat agent insisted that I wouldn't even get FFCs after cancelling because it would go back to TB. ...
If cancelled in the first 24 hours, that is true, longer is FFC.

Last edited by WineCountryUA; Feb 10, 2023 at 12:34 am
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Old Feb 10, 2023, 8:44 pm
  #97  
 
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Originally Posted by miles_navigator
I booked a ticket using award miles in coach.

Can I use part of my Travel Bank funds plus credit card to upgrade to 1st class? When I try online, I get credit card only as an option, no toggle to pull in TB funds.
I'd like to know the answer to this too.
I have some TB funds from my Chase IHG card that expire every 6 months. I'd like to use them toward my upgrade, but there is nowhere to select that option that I can see.

The rules seem purposefully vague:
  • TravelBank Cash is valid for air travel purchases on United and United Expressģ flights and as otherwise permitted by United. After a TravelBank Award is issued, a service charge may be imposed for each change or cancellation requested by the Member.
  • United may from time to time permit TravelBank Cash to be used as a form of payment in combination with other forms of payment including without limitation MileagePlus miles, cash, travel certificates or credit cards.
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Old Feb 10, 2023, 11:21 pm
  #98  
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Originally Posted by JapanFlyerT
Originally Posted by miles_navigator
I booked a ticket using award miles in coach.

Can I use part of my Travel Bank funds plus credit card to upgrade to 1st class? When I try online, I get credit card only as an option, no toggle to pull in TB funds.
I'd like to know the answer to this too.
As the OP was answered, no, TB funds can not be used for upgrades (also see the thread wiki)
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Old Feb 10, 2023, 11:30 pm
  #99  
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Originally Posted by JapanFlyerT
I'd like to know the answer to this too.
I have some TB funds from my Chase IHG card that expire every 6 months. I'd like to use them toward my upgrade, but there is nowhere to select that option that I can see.

The rules seem purposefully vague:
  • TravelBank Cash is valid for air travel purchases on United and United Expressģ flights and as otherwise permitted by United. After a TravelBank Award is issued, a service charge may be imposed for each change or cancellation requested by the Member.
  • United may from time to time permit TravelBank Cash to be used as a form of payment in combination with other forms of payment including without limitation MileagePlus miles, cash, travel certificates or credit cards.
I donít believe you can use TB to upgrade. At least not usually.

You can typically use TB for payment in combo with card to buy a ticket - TB can only really be used to pay for new tickets, and Iím not sure why you couldnít use it in combo with a card because most wouldnít be able to use it ever without that. I seem to vaguely remember some sort of promo last year where it was briefly allowed for something else, and I remember it because I saw the second term you quoted and said Ďahhh, thatís why they have thatí. Canít for the life of me remember what it was - maybe someone else does?
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Old Feb 11, 2023, 6:16 pm
  #100  
 
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Originally Posted by emcampbe
I donít believe you can use TB to upgrade. At least not usually.

You can typically use TB for payment in combo with card to buy a ticket - TB can only really be used to pay for new tickets, and Iím not sure why you couldnít use it in combo with a card because most wouldnít be able to use it ever without that. I seem to vaguely remember some sort of promo last year where it was briefly allowed for something else, and I remember it because I saw the second term you quoted and said Ďahhh, thatís why they have thatí. Canít for the life of me remember what it was - maybe someone else does?
I see on the wiki that the itinerary needs to be all-United, and my final leg on the return is ANA, so I guess that is why I couldn't use the TB.
Given all the restrictions, it does seem unlikely I will be able to use TB at all.
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Old Feb 11, 2023, 10:39 pm
  #101  
 
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Originally Posted by JapanFlyerT
I see on the wiki that the itinerary needs to be all-United, and my final leg on the return is ANA, so I guess that is why I couldn't use the TB.
Given all the restrictions, it does seem unlikely I will be able to use TB at all.
I agree that some of the TravelBank restrictions are not intuitive. But in your case, I think the major limitation is that the IHG-deposited funds expire every six months.

Depending on your UA flight schedule, you could potentially apply the funds as partial payment toward purchase of a monthly wi-fi subscription (i.e. to cover wifi charges on all of your UA flights for 30 days), which you would then immediately cancel after one month. That may or may not save you money compared with in-flight wifi purchases you would otherwise purchase, it depends how many flights you are taking and where. (As you probably read, unfortunately TB cannot be used for in-flight wifi.)
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Old Feb 11, 2023, 11:57 pm
  #102  
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Originally Posted by JapanFlyerT
I see on the wiki that the itinerary needs to be all-United, and my final leg on the return is ANA, so I guess that is why I couldn't use the TB.
Given all the restrictions, it does seem unlikely I will be able to use TB at all.
The workaround for that is to book an all-UA(/UAX) itinerary, then change it to the one you want with an NH segment. This can be done immediately. Of course there are caveats with that too, the most obvious being it needs to be a destination that UA serves with their own metal (though you can always book a different itin that is UA served then change - no reason you canít change to a different route). Also potentially need an agent to do the latter part, as the chnage search on UAs site can leave out pretty simple, standard flight options, or price them higher than they should. But an agent should be able to help you if you run into those issues.
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Old Feb 13, 2023, 9:34 am
  #103  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Sorry really confused on how to use the TB funds to eventually book a partner flights. I have read through lots of posts and concerned I am missing something. I need 4 one way from ORD to YYZ. The time I want for the UA only flight does not have the BE fare and I have $1000 in TB and really don't want to spend any of my own money. I want to book the AC partner flights instead.
As I understand, I can book 3 refundable tickets, then after 24 hours cancel and they will be returned in a payment form I can use for a partner flight? But I also read that I can then only use those funds for the three people I booked? What am I missing?
Thanks
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Old Feb 13, 2023, 11:30 am
  #104  
 
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Originally Posted by sagsal
Sorry really confused on how to use the TB funds to eventually book a partner flights. I have read through lots of posts and concerned I am missing something. I need 4 one way from ORD to YYZ. The time I want for the UA only flight does not have the BE fare and I have $1000 in TB and really don't want to spend any of my own money. I want to book the AC partner flights instead.
As I understand, I can book 3 refundable tickets, then after 24 hours cancel and they will be returned in a payment form I can use for a partner flight? But I also read that I can then only use those funds for the three people I booked? What am I missing?
Thanks
Book 4 UA tickets (your ďbook 3 refundable ticketsĒ confuses me) what align with the costs for your final routing
After they are confirmed go to ďchange my bookingĒ and look/book the desired route (+ pay the deference or get the difference back to TB (if inside 24h)
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Old Feb 13, 2023, 12:09 pm
  #105  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
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Worked like a charm - I owe you a beer!!!

Much thanks

Last edited by sagsal; Feb 13, 2023 at 1:48 pm
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