Over the past couple of months, many of us have learned about the ins and out of canceling flights. Phrases like cancel-for-any-reason insurance and airline voucher are now part of every traveler’s vernacular, and we’ve all found inventive ways to reach airline customer service representatives.
It’s also become second nature to demand that cash refund when canceling flights—and to firmly say no to the travel vouchers most airlines are offering. But should you ever consider taking that airline voucher over cash? Some experts say yes, but warn there are things to keep in mind when you do. Below, we walk you through the nuances of vouchers—the good, the bad, and the potentially negotiable—so you can make the best move next time you cancel a flight.
The case for getting your refund in cash
There are some obvious reasons to take cash over a voucher. Most of us like our money where we can see it, and it’s hard to justify letting an airline hang onto your money—especially when it looks like we won’t be flying any time soon. “From a high level, cash is better than a voucher because you can’t pay for groceries with an American Airlines gift card,” says Scott Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “If you had a $500 ticket, and they’re offering a $500 cash or voucher, cash is way superior because it’s fluid, and it doesn’t have an expiration date.”
Jesse Neugarten of Dollar Flight Club is team voucher, but he agrees there are certain situations in which to push for your money back. “If you’re low on cash and don’t plan to travel anytime in 2020 or 2021, more cash on hand may be the best bet for you,” says Neugarten. “Plus, some airlines, like Virgin Australia and smaller carriers, are shutting down, and they may not be able to honor vouchers in the future.” If you bought a ticket from an online travel agent like Expedia, Travelocity, or Orbitz, then you absolutely want your cash back as well, Neugarten says, and not a gift card or voucher you have no reason to use.
If you end up needing to cancel and rebook a second time, travel vouchers can cause issues with insurance, too. “If you’re buying travel insurance, we’ve been telling people not to take the voucher and to get a refund,” says Megan Moncrief, the chief marketing officer at insurance comparison website Squaremouth. “Historically, travel insurance providers widely grouped travel vouchers with points and miles, as award-based travel, which is typically uninsurable as there is no direct dollar amount associated with [the vouchers].” In laymen’s terms: If you book a flight with a voucher and have to cancel, your flight cost in an insurance claim would technically be zero, meaning you wouldn’t get any of that money back. Moncrief says that some providers are now changing their stance given the current situation, but it’s important to keep this in mind when purchasing travel insurance—something most of us are doing these days—and make sure to understand the coverage offered on award-based trips.
Read the full Conde Nast Traveler article here: https://www.cntraveler.com/story/why-an-airline-voucher-is-sometimes-better-than-a-cash-refund