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In this blog post, I will walk you through the steps on how to fund and use United’s TravelBank.

Since some credit cards provide travel credits that expire within a year, depositing money in United’s TravelBank is a viable option to utilize those credits so they won’t go to waste.

Funds diverted into United’s TravelBank have a 5-year lifespan, offering some level of longevity and a lot of flexibility, especially since travel is not expected to pick up again anytime soon.

Whether you have plans this year or in the near future, funding your United TravelBank with free cash from your credit cards is a wallet-friendly strategy that can potentially save you a few hundred dollars when the time comes that you need to book your next flight.

United TravelBank 

According to United, your TravelBank funds can either be used alone or in combination with select forms of payment only when booking United or United Express flights.

Therefore, we are unable to use United TravelBank to purchase flight itineraries that include segments on partner airlines such as Air Canada, Lufthansa, etc.

I was also unsuccessful in tapping my TravelBank reserves to pay for taxes when booking an award ticket or paying additional fees to cover the airfare difference when redeeming a voucher or rebooking a travel credit.

However, I did not encounter any roadblocks when I booked paid United tickets, even if the airfare was Basic Economy.

United TravelBank Works With Basic Economy

Terms and Conditions  

The information below was taken from

  • Passengers can select 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 are not refundable and are limited to $5,000 per day per MileagePlus account.
  • 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.

Guide on How to Fund United’s TravelBank


Access United TravelBank by clicking the button below. You will need to log in to your United Mileage Plus Account to purchase. 

Do not have a United membership yet? 

It is free and easy to register. Click the button below to enroll in United’s Mileage Plus Program.

STEP 2: 

After logging in, you will see your United Mileage Account, any United miles you have available for redemption, and your TravelBank Cash Balance. 

Plus Points – a points system that passengers can utilize to upgrade their flights – will also show up, but we will not go over that in this post. You can read more about this program here. 


Select the amount of travel cash you want to purchase.

As previously stated, there are six possible amounts that you can elect to deposit to your TravelBank.

Guide on How To Use United's Travel Bank


The next page will ask for you to type in your Payment Information.

In this case, you would want to use a credit card that provides an Airline Credit.

I will list these credit cards in one of the sections below.

You will then get confirmation that your purchase was successful. A receipt will be emailed immediately after as well.

In this example, I used my The Business Platinum Card® from American Express to buy $100 worth of travel cash in United’s TravelBank.


Guide on How to Use Your United Travel Bank Cash


Thankfully, we are generously given five years to spend our travel cash. 

Once you are ready to book your flight, log back on to your profile and enter your travel details.

United TravelBank purchased using certain IHG Credit Cards has a shorter lifespan. Please check the terms of your IHG Credit Cards for the most current UnitedTravel Bank policy.

Guide on How To Use United's Travel Bank


Select your particular flight, verify your personal information, and pick your seat.

Afterward, you will be directed to the Payment Page. 

Next, United will offer you travel insurance (select yes/no), priority boarding, and miles for purchase.

Regardless of whether you decide or decline to purchase these additional bells and whistles, the payment section comes right after.

You have the following payment options:

  • Pay In Full
  • Pay Monthly 
  • Travel Certificates and United TravelBank Cash (if this option does not appear, then the ticket you’re buying is not a permitted purchase using travel cash.)
  • Other Forms of Payments (PayPal, etc)
  • Debit / Credit Card 
Guide on How To Use United's Travel Bank


Select “Travel Certificates and United TravelBank Cash.” 

As you can see, my $100 travel bank deposit is already reflected in my account.

Guide on How To Use United's Travel Bank


Next, enter the amount you want to use for the flight you wish to book.

It is not necessary to spend your entire stash of United travel cash if you have other plans to spend it later.

Once you have a final amount in mind, click apply.

In this example, I decided to spend $75 of the $100 currently in my United TravelBank.

Guide on How To Use United's Travel Bank


After your travel cash is deducted, the total amount you still owe will automatically be calculated.

Guide on How To Use United's Travel Bank


Continue with your purchase by selecting the mode of payment you want to use for the remaining balance.  

I highly recommend paying a portion of the flight with a credit card that offers travel protections, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. 

Alternatively, you can purchase travel insurance to cover your entire trip. 

Where Do I Find My TravelBank Account?

United has recently updated its website. You can find your United TravelBank account information and balance by navigating to your United Wallet on the app and the computer.

Computer Version
Computer Version
App Version

Troubleshooting Potential Issues

Issue 1: United TravelBank Does Not Show Up

A few readers have expressed that they are having difficulty locating the TravelBank option on United’s website.


It appears that United’s site is currently updating its payment page. When you see the notice below under “Payment Method, ” click the “find those payment options…” link.


This link will direct you to the “United Travel Options” section, where you can add travel insurance to your purchase. Make your selection.


Afterward, you will be directed to “Payment Information,” where the TravelBank option appears.


Click “Travel Certificates and United TravelBank Cash” and select Travel Cash as your mode of payment.

Type the amount you would like to spend.

As suggested, charge a small portion of your airfare on a credit card that provides travel insurance, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

You may also elect to purchase travel insurance for additional coverage.

Issue 2: United TravelBank Keeps On Freezing

While booking a plane ticket to Cabo costing $167.78 recently, I found the United website struggling to process my TravelBank payment, ultimately freezing the payment page.

After attempting various troubleshooting strategies, I eventually made it work by typing a whole number into the TravelBank box.

In this case, I redeemed $165 of my TravelBank credits towards the purchase of this ticket and used a credit card that gives travel protections (Chase Sapphire Reserve®) to cover the remaining amount ($2.78).

Issue 3: TravelBank is Unable to Add a New Credit Card (Payment Error) can only save a certain number of credit cards on your profile.

If the website is not allowing you to add another credit card to your United TravelBank account, you will need to log in to your main account, go to “Wallet,” remove the credit cards that you no longer use, and then add the ones you would like saved.

Once your new credit card is linked, note the last four digits of your card and its expiration date so you can easily find it on your list of saved cards when you try to purchase United TravelBank funds again.

Issue 4: Unable to Purchase

As mentioned above, your United TravelBank funds can either be used alone or in combination with select forms of payment when booking United or United Express flights only.

Therefore, we are unable to use United TravelBank to purchase flight itineraries that include segments on partner airlines such as Air Canada, Lufthansa, etc.

When Do United TravelBank Funds Expire?

As of this update, TravelBank funds appear to expire after five years.

The screenshot below, captured from my TravelBank account, supports this assertion.

While the money deposited in our United TravelBank accounts has a 5-year validity, it can be forfeited if no activity is recorded in our TravelBank accounts for 18 consecutive months.

Therefore, ensure that you either add money to your TravelBank or use your TravelBank funds to purchase tickets at least once every 18 months.

Heads Up: United also stipulated that any re-deposited funds originating from canceled tickets purchased with TravelBank money do not qualify as an eligible activity. In short, any re-deposited funds will NOT reset the expiration date.

United may also change the expiration date of subsequent deposits or discontinue the program altogether. Only time will tell.

For now, this option to convert our credit card airline credits to some form of flexible currency is available, so certainly consider this method if you are running out of ways to redeem your expiring credits.

United TravelBank purchased using certain IHG Credit Cards has a shorter lifespan. Please check the terms of your IHG Credit Cards for the most current UnitedTravel Bank policy.

Which Credit Cards to Use?

You should only purchase TravelBank funds when you anticipate no other eligible travel-related purchases for the remainder of the year.

Chase Credit Cards

Chase Sapphire Reserve® (CSR)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) comes with a $300 travel credit that resets every year on the card member’s anniversary date and does not roll over onto the following year; therefore, you either use it or lose it.

I do not recommend using your CSR travel credits to purchase funds on United’s TravelBank, given that Chase provides an extensive array of valuable avenues to redeem this credit. 

In addition to the traditional airfare purchase, you can also trigger the travel credit when paying for public transit, ride-sharing services, parking, hotels, campgrounds, cruises, etc. 

Citi Credit Cards

Citi Prestige® Credit Card

This card is no longer available to new applicants.

This credit card comes with a $250 travel credit, which can now be conveniently spent on groceries, restaurants, and take-out.

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this credit resets every calendar year and likewise does not roll over.

I do not suggest using your Citi Prestige travel credits to purchase United TravelBank funds because of other beneficial spending options you have at your disposal.

American Express Credit Cards

American Express® Credit Cards with Airline Fee Credits

American Express’s airline fee credit is challenging to redeem compared to Chase’s and Citi’s more flexible identical offerings.

In the past several years, consumers consistently find themselves jumping through hoops in search of effective methods to capitalize on these generous offers. 

First and foremost, Chase and Citi do not require activation – their credits apply to all airlines and other forms of travel.

Whereas Amex’s airline fee credit will not work unless you activate it.

Plus, it can only be used on one airline you pre-select, ideally at the beginning of the year.

Even though there are data points (DP) that Amex has been lenient in allowing the preferred airline to be changed via chat as of late, there is no way to predict until when they will allow this.

AMEX Airline Fee Credit Restrictions

AMEX has strict restrictions on what fees qualify under this credit. 

Technically, only incidental purchases, such as seat assignments, baggage fees, change fees, lounge access fees, and food/beverage inflight purchases, are eligible. 

As such, traditional expenses such as award fees, plane tickets, upgrades, and gift cards do not qualify.

But occasionally, we see additional methods that temporarily open up that trigger this airline fee credit – and for now, United TravelBank is one of them. 

While no language explicitly states this particular purchase will not qualify, I have to underscore that Amex can undoubtedly claw back this credit at any moment if they deem that TravelBank is not eligible. So, just be aware of that possibility. 

Hence, please utilize this tactic only if you do not anticipate using your airline fee credit throughout the rest of the year.  

Steps in Selecting Your Airline With Amex 

Before you go ahead with your purchase, follow the steps below on selecting your preferred airline, as AMEX does not make it simple to locate where to activate this benefit.

To optimize this TravelBank strategy, make sure that the airline you selected is United. 


Go to, then log in to your account.


Select the particular AMEX credit card that currently offers an airline fee credit.


On the main page, click “More,” then select “Benefits.”


On the Benefits page, scroll down to locate “Airline Fee Credit.” 

This is where you can also change your selected airline for the year. 

It bears repeating that you’re technically not allowed to change your preferred airline mid-year, so choose wisely.

With that said, there are data points from people reporting that they have successfully modified their airline choice by contacting AMEX through chat, but this is YMMV (your mileage might vary).

As of this writing, you can use your airline fee credit with the following U.S. carriers:

  • United
  • American
  • Delta
  • Alaska
  • Southwest
  • Frontier
  • Hawaiian
  • JetBlue
  • Spirit

While on the Benefits page, enroll in all the offers available to you even if you are not sure you will use them. 

It is practically money you had already paid for when you paid your annual fee, so you might as well take advantage of it.

At any rate, maximizing this airline fee credit is a fantastic way to offset the steep annual fees Amex charges on their ultra-premium cards.


Add funds to your travel credit using your AMEX card.

If you are unsure how much airline credit you have left, AMEX generates a tracker under this benefit to display your remaining funds.


Periodically check your Amex credit card to see if the airline fee credit was successfully triggered.

If not, Amex has likely terminated this redemption method. 

Final Thoughts

Indeed, United’s TravelBank is a wonderful addition to the dwindling menu of possible purchases that can activate Amex’s elusive airline credit.

Being fully aware that this method is temporary, I try to take advantage of it while it’s still possible, especially when I am on the verge of running out of redemption alternatives for my Amex airline fee credit.

I hope that Amex follows Chase’s and Citi’s lead and relaxes this benefit, making it much easier to redeem in the future.

Until then, we will have to adjust to American Express’ policies.

Ultimately, I am glad that United’s TravelBank provides us with another fantastic alternative for using our travel credits.

Not only does it prolong the shelf-life of our funds, but it also affords us the flexibility we genuinely need. 

EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE – Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. The content has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.