United Airlines Travel Bank Now Offers 10% Bonus For Adding Funds Until August 5, 2020 (Be Careful!)

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United Airlines had for a long time a function called Travel Bank which is basically an online account where you can store funds to be used for future travel, deposited via regular payment methods.

The airline has now rolled out a promotion where you receive 10% bonus on top of all your funds deposited into the Travel Bank but this is something to proceed with caution at.

Any type of bonus sounds like a good thing in the beginning but you could end up paying dearly by using this function as you’re giving up certain protections you’d otherwise get when paying your ticket directly in full by credit card.

You can find this offer by United Airlines on their website (access here).

TravelBank helps manage your travel budget as a simple cash-based account within your MileagePlus® account.

You can use TravelBank cash alone or combine it with select forms of payment when booking your flight.

We’ll match 10% of the money you add to your account

Use this offer to boost your TravelBank cash. To get started, deposit money to your TravelBank account. After 90 days, we’ll make a deposit that matches 10% of your original deposit.*

You can use TravelBank cash alone or combine it with select forms of payment when booking a United® or United Express® flight directly with us. Check your balance any time when viewing your MileagePlus account.

Submit your deposit by August 5, 2020, to take advantage of this unique offer. Bonus value remains valid for 120 days once received.

Travel Bank cash can be purchases in batches of $50, $100, $250, $500, $750, $1000.

I became aware of this as there is a discussion on Flyertalk whether buying credits this way will work to withdraw / make use of the annual travel credit on American Express cards. This promotion is still fresh and there is no success/denial report about this yet. I’m skeptical if it works. In the past I was successful using the United Gift Registry which has since been discountinued.

What is important however is that by going this route you pretty much give up all protections you usually have by purchasing ticket through your credit card, especially the option to charge back a purchase if the airline has cancelled on you and refuses to provide refunds.

It might also have an impact if the travel insurance of your credit card will be applicable to these tickets even if you charge ad overlay of a few dollars to the card.

For example:

  • Ticket cost: $270
  • Travel Bank Cash: $250
  • Amount charged to credit card: $20

If this would be enough to be covered through a credit card insurance policy depends on the t&c of the underlying policy. You’ll certainly not be covered if the ticket is paid exclusively with travel bank funds even if the travel bank was funded with the credit card has the insurance feature. The only exception would be policies that cover you irrespective of the method of payment used for your trips.

Another point of caution is that the bonus funds from the 10% will credit in 90 days and expire in 120 days after deposit. All Travel Bank funds will expire if left inactive for 18 months!

Conclusion

This isn’t an attractive deal in my opinion. There are too many trap doors included with this Travel Bank feature and their expiration policies. 10% isn’t nearly enough of a bonus to entice me dealing with all this. Especially if it isn’t added immediately. Try 30% and we’re talking but not this.

There are no data points yet if adding travel funds this way will in fact trigger the Amex travel credit so making any purchases that way would be highly speculative at this point and the promo expires on August 5th.

These are the Terms & Conditions associated with this promotion:

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 made before August 5th, 2020, (11:59:59 p.m. CT) are eligible for a bonus deposit equal to 10% of the purchase value. The bonus will be deposited approximately 90 days after the initial purchase deposit date and will expire 120 days from the bonus deposit date. Purchases are not refundable and are limited to one purchase per promotion per MileagePlus account. This offer is also subject to all of the TravelBank terms and conditions. United has the right to terminate this promotion or to change the promotion’s terms and conditions, rules, regulations, policies and procedures, benefits, and/or conditions of participation, in whole or in part, at any time, with or without notice.

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