Got a Travel Credit in 2020? Now's the Time to Check Its Expiration Date

by Maurie Backman | Updated July 21, 2021 - First published on June 14, 2021

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Cup of coffee with plane image in it sitting on top of map and next to a boarding pass.

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Canceled a trip last year? Make sure you don't let your credit go to waste.

A large number of travel dreams were dashed during the pandemic, when quarantine mandates and other restrictions forced countless vacationers to cancel their plans. In fact, some people had their plans canceled for them -- they didn't even get a say in the matter.

If you had a flight or resort stay canceled last year, you may have received a refund for that trip on the credit card you used to book it. Or, you may have been given a travel credit or voucher instead of a refund.

If you received the latter, now's the time to read the fine print. Travel vouchers typically come with expiration dates, and the last thing you want to do is let yours run out before you get a chance to use it.

See what options you have

If you had to cancel a flight, you may have received a voucher from the airline you booked it with. But if your flight was scheduled for last summer, your voucher may expire this summer, one year later -- and that's the sort of thing you'll want to figure out sooner rather than later.

Furthermore, your voucher may run out one year after the date of your originally scheduled flight or resort stay or one year after the date you canceled it, which could be much sooner -- so check on that timing immediately to avoid losing out.

You should also check the details of your voucher to see what options it gives you. In the case of an airline voucher, you may have a credit for a certain amount that you need to use up by a certain date. But that may also give you the flexibility to fly anywhere you'd like. In other cases, though, your voucher may require you to book the same exact flight you canceled last year. In other words, if you were originally slated to fly from New York to Miami, you may need to use your voucher for the same route rather than choose a different destination.

You should also check your voucher to see if you actually have to use it yourself or if it's possible to have somebody else use it. For example, say you were scheduled to travel last summer for a wedding that never happened, and you don't yet feel comfortable boarding a plane at this stage of the pandemic. You may have the option to give that voucher to a family member -- for example, gift it to your brother or use it to fly your sister who lives out of town over for a visit. It pays to see what options you have.

Even if your voucher is somewhat restrictive, you can always call the company that issued it and ask for more flexibility. You may get more leeway after speaking to a customer service representative.

Either way, make sure to check your voucher sooner rather than later. If you're coming up on the deadline to use it, you'll want to act quickly to avoid losing money. And if you're in the midst of planning a summer vacation, you may want to work around that voucher to ensure it's put to good use.

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