If you’re a frequent flyer, you’re likely privy to the fact that occasionally issues arise. Baggage is lost; flights can be oversold, rescheduled, or canceled; and a host of other problems can occur, leaving customers angry and disappointed.
For airlines, these issues can become costly. To mitigate that cost, many seek to offer travel vouchers, which may be used when booking future flights. Depending on the circumstance and airline, these vouchers may cover a full flight or only a portion of the flight, leaving many customers wondering what exactly they can do with their newly held conciliatory certificate.
There are typically stipulations about what airlines you can fly, what flights you can book, and how long you have to use the voucher. But for frequent flyers who accumulate and use airline credit card miles, another question takes center stage: “Do I still earn airline credit card miles when I’m paying with a travel voucher?”
Can You Earn Miles Using a Travel Voucher?
At a high level, many airline rewards programs are the same—book travel, fly to your destination, and earn your miles. But when it comes to the specific rules that govern each program, things can get a bit hairy. And there isn’t always an overarching answer to general questions.
That said, many of the most popular airlines do allow users to accumulate miles even if they use a travel voucher. Although the best way to truly understand the relationship between your voucher and your rewards program is to call the airline in question.
To explore the answer to the voucher question, let’s look at three airlines that account for a large share of rewards travel: American Airlines, United Airlines, and Delta.
If you’re an American Airlines fan and you are trying to rack up rewards miles and Elite Qualifying Miles (EQDs), then you’ll be happy to know, according to the airline’s website: “Yes, tickets purchased in full or partially with vouchers will receive full credit for the base fare and carrier-imposed fees associated with the ticket price.”
United Airlines is fairly transparent about their policies, and while you can still earn miles and Premier Qualifying Miles (PQM) if you book using a travel voucher, how many miles depends on the type of voucher you have. If you’re using an electronic travel certificate, i.e., a voucher with a “dollar-value credit,” then you will earn miles “based on the fare plus carrier-imposed surcharge amount quoted before applying the credit.”
If, however, your voucher is in the form of a discount code that offers a percentage off (i.e., not same as cash), then you will still earn miles, but your earning will be based on the adjusted base fare, or the after-discount price.
Similarly, United Airlines’ site specifies that Elite points are not awarded for promotional certificates; therefore, if your voucher does specify a discount, as opposed to a dollar-value credit, you may not receive Elite points for the flight.
Delta offers a fairly comprehensive FAQ page for most of their travel programs, but when it comes to their travel vouchers, a specific answer is not readily available. However, eCredits, which are often given to passengers who were bumped from flights or whose flights were canceled, are valid for miles.
And, after a rather lengthy call with the airline customer service, we were assured that vouchers are typically treated same as cash and will earn both reward miles and Delta’s Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs).
If you do receive a travel voucher and are concerned about how it will impact your ability to earn points, your best bet is to contact the airline to further discuss. If the airline is offering you a voucher after a poor experience and you haven’t yet accepted, be sure to inquire about how the voucher will impact your ability to earn miles and verify that the voucher is for a dollar value as opposed to a discount or promotional code, which can end up costing you points.
Author: Jeff Gitlen
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