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Let me say first of all that as much as I fly on United, I am a total bone-head for not doing this sooner. I have meant to do it for a long time, but kept putting it off or forgetting…silly, silly me. Essentially, there is a very easy way to get 5% off of your United flights by purchasing a membership to Veteran’s Advantage. You don’t have to have been a veteran yourself to qualify to purchase a membership – all of the following are eligible for membership.
- U.S. Veterans
- Active Duty military
- National Guard & Reservists
- All branches, all periods of service
- Next of kin: Fathers, mothers, sons or daughters.
The cost to join is $59.95 for a year, but they do run specials, such as the one I signed up under, that offer 20% off. They also offer a 30 day trial (though it comes with a $4.95 processing fee). Once you pay the fee, you get a code that provides 5% off United operated flights that originate in the US. If you get the membership at a 20% discount, you would need to book just under $1,000 worth of United flights a year to break even. That threshold is doable for many families who fly United since booking multiple tickets adds up quickly. I have booked way more than that for my family this year, so I have been leaving money on the table by not having this discount…sort of.
There are a few drawbacks to the 5% off. The first is that to enter the code you need to use the United website to book your flights. If you like to go through a portal, like Ultimate Rewards, to purchase your tickets through Travelocity for 2x Ultimate Reward points, then you have a decision to make since both can’t be used at the same time. Additionally, if you like functions like FareLock, they won’t show as available when booking with the Veteran’s Advantage 5% discount.
So, it’s not a discount that you can pile on top of some of the other things you are already doing to get the most for your airfare purchases, but it is a great way to save some real cash on a booking. I would assume that it stacks with the United.com $5 Club membership since I don’t see any terms of that membership that state otherwise, but I can’t swear to that from personal experience quite yet. Can anyone else vouch for this one way or the other?
To use the discount, just enter your “unique travel discount code” on the United website where it asks for your “Offer Code”. Your Veteran’s Advantage Member ID is displayed as soon as you purchase your membership.
The search results will then display a blue star next to the fares that were eligible fares. They should show a 5% reduction over the fares when searched without using the offer code.
In addition to the 5% discount on United, there are many other discounts or specials with companies such as: Amtrak, Greyhound, Thrifty, Verizon Wireless, Wendy’s, Target, Apple, and more. I haven’t yet taken advantage of the discounts from the other retailers, but if your family is able to take advantage of many different benefits then your membership is that much more valuable.
I’m impressed at how lucrative purchasing airline tickets can be. If I had to purchase one airline ticket that retailed for $300 from United, I could use the Veteran’s Advantage code to save $15, bringing the price to $285. I could then (theoretically) use the United.com Club to get $5 in credit to use on a future flight. I would get 3x Membership Reward points by using the Amex Premier Reward Gold or Amex Business Gold Rewards for a total of 855 points. If you value those at 1.5 cents a piece, that is another $12.82 in value. Of course, you then still earn miles by flying the ticket. For the heck of it, say the ticket earned 2,000 United flight miles. Valuing those also at 1.5 cents each (though I personally value them higher), that is another $30 in value on the redeemable miles. That doesn’t even bring into the equation the value of the elite miles earned. That brings the total in value earned/saved on a $300 ticket that goes 2,000 total flight miles to at least $62.82 by being a little strategic. That’s not a life changing amount, but it certainly adds up over the course of a year.
I’d love to hear if anyone has experience with Veteran’s Advantage!