Good morning! A reader sent me a tip to share with anyone trying to book American Airlines (AA) travel credits. Yes, my hand is raised too since I have a bunch of AA credits as well. I have a number of travel vouchers because I canceled all of my trips in 2020 once the pandemic began.

Like many travelers, I couldn’t get refunded because the airlines didn’t cancel the flights. I wrote a tip about this, advising to wait until a day or even a few hours before the scheduled departure to see if the flight was severely delayed or canceled so you can get a full refund. This really depends on the airline though, because they all have different policies.

So here’s a tip from reader Mark W:
“If you make a reservation on AA and then want to pay with flight credits in your wallet, you have to call AA to finalize the trip. Be aware that at that point the agent may not honor the pricing of your held reservation and can change your fare. In my case, they changed my $281 reserved fare to $538 in order to use my credit.  Despite engaging numerous contacts at AA, they stood by their policy.  This seems grossly unfair and unethical.”

I agree that this is unfair and does seem unethical. Has anyone else encountered the same problem?

Related: Travelers Running Into Problems With Redeeming Airline Credits
According to CBS LA: Rule No. 1, if you have time to book, wait until flights drop in price. “From Atlanta to Amsterdam, on Monday it was $800 on Tuesday, it was $300 on Wednesday, it was $1,300 and we are talking about the exact same flight,” Keyes said. Rule No. 2, if one customer service agent says no, call back and try another. Finally, ask to extend the expiration date on your credit and try to book next year when more flights are available as the travel industry rebounds.

7 Comments On "Warning About Using AA Travel Credits"
  1. AC in NC|

    First of all I have been able to apply credits to a flight on the AA website w no problem so not sure why he had to talk to an agent. Once I did talk w an agent when I wanted to apply 3 credits to one ticket and felt it was easier to have an agent do it.

    In that case I booked the flight and, instead of paying, put it on hold (anyone can do this until midnight the following day at no cost. Then when I called the Platinum line I explained I had a ticket on hold, provided the record locator number , asked to have the 3 credits applied and paid the balance w a credit card. No problem at all and no price change!

    Maybe someone simply looked at flights online and then when they called that fare class was sold out but if you make the reservation and out it on hold your price is locked in.

  2. Bill|

    My beef is the drastic fare increases. I get airlines are bearing much of the cost of increased screening and safety protocols. However, when I used the full amount of my AA credits, which had a time stamp so I couldn’t wait and shop for the ups and downs of prices, my $1,150.00 fare to Greece for last September became $1,675.00 for this coming September. Ouch!

  3. Mark W|

    Hi AC

    I am the person that had this experience. My reservation was on a 3 day hold when I went to pay for it (during the hold period). It would not let me apply the credit online and said I had to call into the center. Then things went downhill from there.

  4. Qoya|

    I’ve used an AA credit before and didn’t have this problem. The agent used the same flight and price that I had on hold in my account. This was last year though, and I’m sure the airlines are trying to make up for lost revenue.

  5. Cole|

    The issue is that when you are using a travel credit, sometimes the fare on the exact same flights you are trying to book is higher than if you were trying to book without using the credit. It’s like they are “punishing” you just because you are using a trip credit. Don’t believe me? Try going through the book process each way. I have had the happen multiple times. Each time I have called the Platinum Pro desk, complained, and they have booked it for me using the trip credit and the lower price. I have no idea whether they would have done that for me if I didn’t have status. I will say that each time it took me a lot to convince the agent of what was happening. Either the average agent really doesn’t understand that this phenomenon happens or they are really good at playing dumb.

  6. Cristian Caro|

    Same thing happened to me. First agent was charging more for the same itinerary I have on hold. I called twice more until one agent said, I have the same itinerary you have on hold and at the same price. So it change it and used my credits to pay. ufff. finally, but it was painful to have to call many times.

  7. Harry|

    AA issued me Credit and now they are saying it has expired. Here is the chronology of event.. I booked the tickets with $550 each for party of 4, in 2021 and have to cancel it and got credit. Later, I booked the ticket in 2022 with Credit and for same flight in non Credit mode it was $550 but because i am using credit they bumped to $850.. Clearing punishing for using credit…Called several times but no good answer, booked it with extra $300. Later just before travel, Covid hit and had to cancel it again.. They gave me $850 credit and said, i have 1 yr to use.. Come 2023, trying to book they are saying my credit expired in 2022. Credit is showing online etc. but when tried to book it, it is not allowing.. ! Have mail form them that credit is issued in Aug 2022 and valid for 1 year but no one is listening. Not sure where to go.. Have total credit of around $3300 for family of 4 ..

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