In 2021, the simplest way to cash out travel incidental credits on American Express cards, PenFed Pathfinder cards, Bank of America Premium Rewards, and UnionBank Rewards cards was to buy United TravelBank credit directly because it can be banked, combined, and used for airfare on any United flight and it didn’t require any weird gift cards or other “one weird trick” style hacking but was still reimbursed by credit card issuers. TravelBank credit also has a long expiration at 5 years so you’ve got time to figure out how best to use it.

Well a few short hours into December 31, reports came in that United TravelBank had been taken offline. There was an ensuing panic in just about every forum that I’m affiliated with. Fortunately the panic was short-lived, TravelBank came back yesterday afternoon and hundreds of hackers rushed to cash out credits within minutes.

Was rushing to cash-out a mistake? Honestly I think so even though it’ll probably work out just fine.

Being Level-Headed

I have a compulsive urge to knock out all of my yearly credit card annual credits as early as possible at the start of a new year so that I don’t have to think about them all the way until December 31, and I have zero doubt that many of you are exactly the same. That said, I’ve learned to hold back and wait for data-points to come in regarding what works in the new year and what doesn’t, and I hope you’ll do the same. There are legion travel hackers out there who have already all tried to cash out their 2022 credits in non-perscribed ways for:

  • Airline incidentals
  • Travel credits
  • Saks
  • Clear
  • Global Entry / Nexus / Precheck

But, there isn’t yet a datapoint that any of the opportunities that worked last year continue to work now, simply because not enough time has passed for a credit to post. In fact, many things change when the calendar does, like, I don’t know, United TravelBank going offline.

So, maybe wait a few days so we know that what worked last year will continue to work so that you’re not stuck with an unreimbursed $200 charge? If you’ve already become the data point, I sincerely appreciate it and I understand it at my core, but that’s not how I’m playing it (anymore). We’ll all learn from your hard work and we’ll all be grateful for your data-point.

Happy travel credit hacking!

Level headed travel credits.