Saturday, September 26, 2009

Real Talk on Buying and Selling Airline Vouchers Online

By Mike Grasso

These days finding a great bargain often means a simple visit to Ebay or Craiglist. On these sites a potpourri of goods are available, often for a fraction of their retail price. Included in these listings are airline travel vouchers and free tickets. But most airlines restrict the sale or barter of travel credits, and word of harsh punishments, such as voiding the credit, and/or closing members' frequent flyer account, have been reported in a few cases. So what do you do if you are in the market to unload your travel credits or find heavily discounted certificates? Here are some suggestions:

Selling your credits? This often happens for people receiving electronic discount codes or paper certificates which reduce the airfare price and/or offer a free ticket. The rules of use are usually spelled out on the certificate, so read them carefully. Usually a "transfer" to another person can be done, provided no money or goods are exchanged. If you do opt to sell it (I did tell you selling is probably not allowed, right?), then consider selling to a trusted buyer, or a friend. Another suggestion: Free travel credits make great stocking stuffers for the holidays, and without the worry about getting caught selling them.

Buying travel credits? Really think this through folks. There are plenty of scammers out there as well as many honest folks trying to sell (albeit "illegally") legitimate goods. If it sounds to good to be true...ya, it probably is. If the person selling the travel credit on Ebay has few or no previous ratings, would you trust them? Similarly, if buying from Craigslist, how will you ensure an electronic credit, for example, hasn't already been redeemed, or the seller won't redeem it shortly after you buy it? Although sellers often list the terms & conditions of transferability in their posting, how will you know they have listed ALL of them? These are many of the questions you should be asking yourself before considering a purchase. And the obvious - do the benefits outweigh the potential risks?

Having said all that, I personally know people who've bought and sold airline credits over the years with few difficulties. But, as mentioned earlier, the airlines have reportedly penalized some unlucky folks for doing the same. So before you decide to put yourself in the market for travel vouchers, weigh the pros and cons, and if you decide to buy or sell, do so with plenty of caution.