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United Airlines travel credits are a great way to save money on future flights, but can you use them for someone else?

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Yes, you can use your United credit for someone else, but there are some restrictions.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the different types of United travel credits and explain how you can use them for someone else. We’ll also cover the restrictions and limitations that apply.

What are United travel credits?

United travel credits, also known as flight credits or travel funds, allow United Airlines customers to reuse the value of unused, non-refundable tickets for future travel.

There are a few different types of United travel credits:

Different types of United travel credits

  • Electronic travel certificate (ETC) – This credit is issued when you cancel an eligible non-refundable ticket. The credit is valid for one year from the original ticket issue date.
  • Future flight credit – This credit has an extended validity period and is issued for travel disruptions like flight cancellations or changes. It is usually valid for 2 years from the original ticket issue date.
  • Goodwill flight credit – United may issue this credit as a goodwill gesture for service issues. It tends to have a shorter validity period of 90 days.

How to earn United travel credits

There are a few main ways to earn United travel credits:

  • Cancel eligible non-refundable tickets – If you cancel flights at least 25 hours before departure, the unused value will be issued as an ETC.
  • Have your flight canceled or changed by United – You’ll typically get a future flight credit valid for 2 years.
  • Experience a service issue – United may give you a goodwill credit as compensation for significant delays, damaged luggage, etc.
  • Convert unused mileage into travel credit – With MileagePlus, you can deposit miles into your United TravelBank.

The best way to take advantage of United credits is to use them for your next trip within the validity period. You can redeem them online at or through the United app.

Credits are attached to the person who originally booked or canceled the ticket.

Can I use my United credit for someone else?

Using your United credit for another traveler is allowed in some cases, but there are specific rules you’ll need to follow.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the traveler must be an immediate family member or registered companion.

Rules for using United credit for someone else

Here are the key rules for using your United credit for someone else’s flight:

  • You can only book travel for an immediate family member or registered companion. This includes spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, and grandchildren.
  • The family member must be listed in your United account profile to be eligible. You can add them by logging into your account.
  • When booking, the reservation will need to be in both your name and the traveler’s name. For example: “John Doe and Jane Doe”.
  • At check-in, the person traveling will need to show valid ID that matches the reservation.
  • As the primary cardholder, you will still earn the miles and perks for the booking.

It’s against United’s policy to purchase tickets for an unrelated traveler using your credit. Doing so could result in your miles being forfeited.

How to use United credit for someone else

If you want to use your credit for an eligible family member’s flight, here are the steps:

  1. Make sure the family member is listed in your United account profile. You can add them by logging in online.
  2. When booking the flight, list both yourself and the traveler’s name. For example: “John Doe and Jane Doe”.
  3. Enter your United credit card information to pay for the booking.
  4. Inform the traveler to bring valid photo ID to the airport that matches the reservation.
  5. The traveler will be able to check-in and board the flight as normal by showing their ID.

Booking the flight together under both names links the reservation to your United account. This allows the traveler to take the flight while letting you earn the miles and benefits.

Restrictions and limitations

Expiration dates

One of the main restrictions when using United credit is the expiration date. Unused credit typically expires 12 months after it’s issued.

For example, if you received a travel credit in January 2022, you’d need to use it by January 2023 before it disappears from your account.

There are some exceptions – credit from canceled flights expires sooner, usually within 1 year of the original booking date.

But in most cases, expect that United credit won’t last forever.

Change fees

If you need to change your United flight reservation, you won’t have to pay a change fee even when using a credit. 

However, he only way to change a flight without a fee is if you do it within the first 24 hours of buying your ticket.

So when using a credit, be aware you can’t simply switch to a different flight on a whim days or weeks after buying a ticket.

Other restrictions

Some other rules to know about when using United credit:

  • Credit can only be used by the passenger whose name is on the ticket.
  • You typically can’t use credit from one United account on a flight booked through a different account.
  • Credit can’t be combined – only one credit can be used per passenger per flight.
  • Any additional amount beyond the credit must be paid with cash, not another credit.
  • Credit can’t be transferred or sold – it’s non-negotiable.

The main takeaway is United credit has lots of specific rules around it, especially regarding expiration dates, change fees, and transferring between passengers.

So before planning to use a credit, read all the fine print carefully to avoid any surprises!

Alternatives to using United credit for someone else

Gift cards

If you want to treat someone special to a flight or United perk but don’t want to directly transfer your credit to them, consider purchasing a United gift card instead.

You can personalize the gift card with a message, and the recipient can use it to book award travel in their own name.

Cashing out your United credit

While you can’t directly exchange United credit for cash, you do have some options for extracting value.

For example, you could use your credit to book an award flight or upgrade for yourself, then cancel the flight for an e-certificate good for up to one year.

Alternatively, you may be able to book a fully refundable award ticket and then cancel the ticket for a refund to the original form of payment, less any cancellation fees.

Just be aware of United’s rules around refunding awards.

Transferring your United credit to someone else

If you really want to directly transfer United credit to another MileagePlus member, you have a couple options:

  • Book an award ticket in the other person’s name. You can use your miles, but the ticket will be in their name and MileagePlus account.
  • Top up the other person’s MileagePlus account by purchasing miles and depositing them into their account. You can buy miles for as little as 1.89 cents each when United runs promotions.

While you can’t combine MileagePlus accounts or directly transfer credit, these options allow you to gift United miles even if you can’t use your own credit.


In conclusion, you can use your United credit for someone else, but there are some restrictions. You can only use United credit for flights operated by United Airlines or its partners. You also can’t use United credit to pay for taxes and fees.

If you’re not sure whether you can use your United credit for a particular flight, you should contact United Airlines customer service.

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