Reports: United Travel Bank no longer triggering airline fee reimbursements (but is it too early to panic?)

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Reports today from Miles to Memories and Doctor of Credit indicate that United Travel Bank charges may no longer be triggering Amex airline incidental credits on cards like the Amex Platinum or Hilton Aspire card. There is certainly some evidence to back up those claims, though personally I think it’s too early to call it dead.

Last year, we shared reports that I first noticed at Dan’s Deals about United Travel Bank charges triggering Amex Airline incidental credits. That continued to work through the end of 2020 and into early 2021. I’ve seen quite a number of data points from people indicating that their United Travel Bank charges dated on 1/12/21 triggered Amex airline incidental reimbursements on 1/14/21. However, reports originating from Flyertalk indicate that United changed the way they code the purchase around 1/14/21 and since that date United Travel Bank charges have no longer been triggering reimbursements for purchases made since that date.

That means it has been four days since the charges posted that are being used as evidence that this is dead. While I’d certainly take those reports as a big caution flag due to the way they are coding and I wouldn’t recommend making any new Travel Bank purchases right away, I think it is far too early to declare this one dead.

Every single year, we receive reports from readers about certain charges from other airlines no longer working because reimbursement “has always triggered within X number of days and it has been X + 2 days with no reimbursement”. This seems to happen with Southwest Airlines more frequently than with other airlines. Every time we receive those reports, I ask people to wait at least 2 weeks to see if reimbursement is triggered — and nine times out of ten, the reimbursement comes through. Sometimes there just seems to be a logjam and reimbursement slows down and takes a week or two. People inevitably get nervous that something changed and most of the time it turns out to be business as usual.

Again, that’s not to say that this is not a different situation. As noted at the top, United seems to have changed the way these purchases are coded. It is certainly possible that this change has an an adverse affect on getting reimbursed. Again, I definitely wouldn’t make a United Travel Bank purchase moving forward unless we get positive data points about reimbursements. But I’d advise those whose purchases only occurred four days ago to wait a week or two and report back as to whether or not they were reimbursed. Four days just isn’t long enough for a definitive declaration of death. Hopefully it turns out differently.

If this is indeed the end of United Travel Bank (again), hopefully we won’t see clawbacks reaching back far into the past, though that’s certainly something to watch out for.

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Chaser123!

Is there a working link to purchase travel bank credit? The link I used to use has died, I can still see my balance but i cant figure out how to buy.

VIS

It works again in $50 increments on United Travel bank. Shhhhhhhhh. $100 didn’t work. Amex Aspire Card.

Edgar

Does anybody have tried this lately? I wonder if it’s gonna trigger it

Oliver

Looks like it is working.

Jan W

Is there an update on this? Thanks!

Justin

Any updates??

Teo

Has anyone tried if a split airfare purchase with United triggers the credit?

AC in US

This was a loophole that was basically a gift card for future airline purchases. It was never Amex’s intent that purchases of this nature be eligible for the credit (as it is clearly only for incidental charges and not ticket purchases). Don’t whine that Amex and United closed your loophole. Personally I get good value on AA for upgrade certificates and using it to pay for bag fees for my kids or wife if they don’t travel w me (since they don’t have status on their own) if I don’t book them in first class (which I do frequently). No problem using the credit for my Platinum card and (this year) for my Gold card

poster

All the whiners out there must use my loophole, because it is all about me me me

HADLEY V. BAXENDALE.

Nick —

Totally agree, 100%!

It is way too early to say that these charges as they are now termed will not be reimbursed. As a matter of fact, it took a couple of days for mine to clear and that was in the early days of January!!

Cautionary flags yes, but a blanket death knell at this point is way too premature!

However, at the very least, this doom and gloom will keep those who might not heard of this development from using the card to purchase travel bank funds going forward — that is a positive.

I would wait a couple of more days to see if a “gift certificate” indeed is treated differently.

Gmoney

I made sure to do mine Jan1 knowing it wasn’t going to last forever. I also saw some FT reports of BOA premium rewards airline reimbursement working in recent past. 1/1 purchase did not work for me.

ffI

Is the BofA amount 100$ or 200? is it only for travel rewards card or for the Premium rewards

Jose

Guess I’ll hurry u and spend before Amex comes crawling

Nicholai

Is anyone holding onto their AMEX credits in the hopes that they’ll make them more flexible to use?

Corey

No. Put travel credits for three plats, biz plat, and gold on travelbank in the first week of 2021.

Gmoney

This is the way. Anything like this, do asap before it’s gone. It’s always a matter of time.

PeterSFO

If they did give a new credit, they would overlap the two credits for a year like they did with the UberEats credit on the Amex Gold card. I don’t think they’d take away any credits mid-year.

As for making the credit more useful, I don’t see that either. They’ve been finding and killing any way to maximize that credit, I don’t see them doing an about face to make it easier to use when they’ve spent all this time making it harder to use.

Nicholai

Fair enough. I’m usually all about spending my credits in the first week of the year to make sure I get in before a loophole death, but I felt like we were heading towards at least a temporarily-easier-to-use credit because of the pandemic.

Ash

Charged $250 at the United travel bank on my aspire on 1/8, and it triggered the air credit on 1/11… so yesterday, I purchased $250 on my wife’s aspire and $200 each on both of our platinum cards…. I guess we wait and see

Joey

Do you think Amex will let me change the airline selection for this travel credit since it’s not end of January yet?

losingtrader

What if I just changed to United?

Morgan

But not if the credit has already been partially used, correct?

Lukas

That works too, I’ve done it in the past.

Frank

I’ve noticed that AmEx offer redemptions have been very slow to post in the past week or so. Hopefully these United travel credits are similarly slow to post right now, a possibility that you cited in your article.

Last edited 1 year ago by Frank
Denise

It’s been over a week since I made a Paypal purchase on my Plat Amex and no credit yet.That one should be totally unquestionable (as I used it to purchase a mail order item and nothing that could even possibly be questioned).