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I often write about earning and using miles and points as a way to obtain travel at dramatically reduced prices. However, there are other methods I use to supplement airline miles to get airfare for much less, sometimes even nearly free. One of those methods is the United.com Club Travel Bank. I have mentioned this method before, but since I recently redeemed some Travel Bank credits for a flight that cost me a grand total of $0 out of pocket, I thought it might be time for a refresher on this method of saving on airfare.
Earn $5 Per Ticket Booked on United.com:
For $25 per year, you can join the United.com Club and in return for that $25 fee you can earn $5 credit for each ticket you purchase when logged into United.com for 12 months. This counts not only on tickets purchased for yourself, but tickets purchased for anyone. This means if you buy tickets for your family of four to fly on United you will earn $20 in your TravelBank. If you happen to book that trip as two one-ways instead of one round trip for your family of four, then you will earn $40 in your TravelBank. For what it is worth, I have even earned the $5 per ticket on award tickets…
At a $25 annual cost, we would only need to purchase five tickets per year on United.com (or one reservation for five people) to break even, and the reality is we purchase many more than that for the three of us plus our family members. In fact, when my parents or in-laws need to fly on United we make the reservations via my account not only so that I can help them with the planning, but I will “make” an extra $5 per ticket for booking from my account thanks to the United.com Club. The credit is deposited in my account after the trip is taken.
Quick math shows that I have earned at least $225 in my United.com TravelBank since my membership year renewed last October, which means my $25 investment has more than paid off and I will happily re-up for another year. In fact, I recently had to book a cheap flight on United that cost a total of $68.65. At that price using United miles would have been a virtual waste, however I would certainly rather pay nothing out of pocket than pay the “full retail price”.
Redeem Credits for Nearly Free Flights:
This meant it was the perfect opportunity to redeem $68.65 out of my TravelBank to cover the cost of the flight and have zero out of pocket cost for that ticket (of course there is the $25 cost per year to be a member of the club). I will even earn elite qualifying miles for the flight! I don’t have a ton of data points to back me up on this, but using TravelBank credit appears to also count toward the Premier Qualifying Dollars requirement for elite status.
Obviously if you only book one or two flights out of your United account each year the United.com Club will be a losing proposition for you, but if you book for your family a few times annually you will likely come out ahead. I know that we have always come out ahead and earned a few hundred dollars in United credit each year that we otherwise wouldn’t have had. It feels really nice being able to use of some of that to book a flight and have a $0 out of pocket cost to fly!
FAQ’s from the United.com Club site:
If I purchase a ticket for another person, do I get the credit?
Yes, as long as you are signed in when you make the purchase. A $5 united.com Club credit will be deposited in your TravelBank when travel is completed on any ticket purchased at united.com.
Can I use my credit toward any flight?
Credits are deposited in your TravelBank and may be applied to United or United Express® air travel purchased on united.com (excluding MileagePlus award travel).
If I am not a united.com Club member and I purchase the ticket for someone who is a united.com Club member, do they get the credit?
No. The per-ticket credits are only available to united.com Club members who have signed in and purchased a ticket. The $5 credit will be issued to the purchasing united.com Club member’s TravelBank after travel is completed.
Can I use united.com Club deposits to pay for my taxes and fees for an award ticket (mileage redemption)?
No. united.com Club credits are deposited to your TravelBank, which is currently only applicable for the purchase of non-award tickets.
If the balance in my TravelBank exceeds my ticket price, what happens to the balance?
The TravelBank amount designated for the ticket purchase will be deducted and any remaining balance will stay in your TravelBank for future use.
Can I use my TravelBank funds to pay for a partial amount of my ticket if the balance in my TravelBank is less than the ticket price?
Yes. The TravelBank funds may be combined with a credit card to complete the ticket purchase. Additional form of payment combinations may be added in the future.
The “secret” of being able to travel for much less involves using lots of different tools and opportunities to layer deals and come out way ahead. This is one of the tools that helps us save along the way. Does your family use the United.com Club to save on flights?