Planning a trip? Last year’s travel voucher could expire soon

In 2020, when the world suddenly came to a standstill, most people postponed or canceled all their plans due to the coronavirus crisis.

Many have been issued coupons or credits valid for a future date. Now, a year later, those credits are likely to have expired – or are about to expire.

According to a study by Bankrate.com, more than half of all adults, or around 54%, who spent money on activities that were canceled due to the pandemic have already lost those funds.

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Fewer received partial refunds, although these varied depending on the type of purchase. About 35% who canceled short-term home rentals got some, but not all, of their money back.

Less than a quarter of adults were partially reimbursed for canceled flights, sporting events, concerts, theater tickets or hotel stays, Bankrate found.

While many consumers were more likely to accept credits or vouchers than refunds, often valid for up to a year, few expected it would take that long for the country to reopen.

With these expiration dates fast approaching, it’s a good time to check in these coupons, advised Ted Rossman, industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

“If you’re not ready to use it, ask for an extension or make a plan for a few months,” he said. Many airlines and hotels have relaxed their policies and waived fees.

At Frontier Airlines, for example, credit for future trips originally had to be rebooked within 90 days. The airline then changed this policy and now credits are valid for up to one year.

In addition, flights can currently be booked through April 2022, and the low-cost airline is offering free changes. Other airlines have made similar accommodations.

With more than half of U.S. consumers planning to vacation later this year, this is a good time to book, added Rossman.

In fact, thanks to the steadily improving availability of Covid-19 vaccines, reservations for summer travel are on the rise, while airfare and hotel costs remain low. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say people who are fully vaccinated can travel safely within the US, but warn that international travel carries additional risks.)

“There are a lot of good deals out there right now,” said Rossman. “The longer you wait, the more likely it is that prices will go up or things will fill up.”

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