When coronavirus took over the world, travel just stopped. If you already had travel plans, some places gave refunds. Others gave vouchers, either as a matter of choice or, let’s face it, no choice.
A voucher, of course, is not the same as cash; it sometimes has caveats that you’ll probably want to keep in mind, so you’re not stuck with a voucher that’s only worth the paper it’s written on. Here are some things to pay attention to if you have any of those travel vouchers:
- Read the fine print. Make sure you are aware of what you can and cannot do with that voucher.
- Know when the voucher expires. A voucher might have an expiration date of when you have to book by, as well as a “must travel by” date. Keep track.
- See if you can get an extension. Sometimes life gets in the way and you may not be able to use those vouchers as quickly as you’d like. If you’re getting close to the expiration date, see if you can get an extension. They may say no but hey, it never hurts to ask.
- Be aware of cancellation policies on your rebooked travel. It kind of goes with the fine print, but see what the policy is for canceling travel if you’re using a voucher. If you can, you’d want to be able to cancel and rebook again, if necessary.
- Plan the exact same trip next year. It’s probably the easiest way to keep track of a voucher. If you can’t do something this year, do it a year from then.
- Ask for your time off ASAP. Of course, this will depend on the policy of where you work, as well as what the policies are for your voucher. But it would stink to pick the date of when you’re going to go away, make your reservation that can’t be changed, then ask for your PTO and are denied.
- Call or online? If you have a voucher, some places require that you call to rebook. Others allow you to make your new reservation online, perhaps with a special online booking code.
- Repeat after me: airline vouchers can’t be transferred. Well, usually not, anyway. Whoever’s name is on that voucher is almost always the person who has to use it. The only exception to this is Southwest Airline. If you let your flight voucher expire, they could be willing to give you what they call a Luv Voucher – THOSE can be transferred. More info here.
- Look for good sales. Although you shouldn’t consider vouchers to be the same as cash, they do usually represent a certain amount of money. So if you find a good sale, that voucher “money” is going to go that much further.
- Look for incentives. Cruise lines may have sales but they could also have incentives, such as free upgrades, onboard credits, etc., which are almost just as good.
- If it’s a flight voucher, look at partner airlines. It depends on the airline but you may not be limited to the airline you have the voucher for. If your voucher is with American, for example, you might be able to use it on any airline in the OneWorld Alliance. Click here for more info about airline alliances.
- Stay organized! You may have vouchers from your airline and 2 hotels for one trip, and then 2 airlines, a hotel (one’s the same brand as for your other trip) and a cruise line for another. Keep them all together so they’re all in one spot and you know where/how to find all the details.
- Combine vouchers. If you have vouchers for Hotel A and Hotel B for Trip #1 and another voucher for Hotel A (same brand of hotel but in a different city) for Trip #2, see if you can combine vouchers, if that’s something that would make sense for you to do.
- Don’t accept a voucher if your flight was canceled. Lots of airlines will try to give you a voucher if your flight is canceled. After all, it lets them keep your money until you can finally go somewhere. As per the U.S. Department of Transportation, if your flight was canceled, they have to give you a refund.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary