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When you book a flight, you always hope that you’re locking in the cheapest price. But what happens if you book a flight and the price drops? If you need to change your flight with United Airlines — including because you’ve found a cheaper price for the same flight — depending on the fare class, you may be able to make changes without paying a rebooking fee.
In this guide to United Airlines rebooking, we’ll show you how to save when United prices drop.
» Learn more: The best airline credit cards right now
Does United charge to change flights?
United has permanently eliminated change fees for the following tickets:
Economy and premium cabin flights either within the U.S. or between the U.S. and the Caribbean or Mexico (except for Basic Economy).
International travel originating in the U.S.
Award tickets within the U.S. or international trips that originated in the U.S., provided the change is made 31 days or more before your flight.
If you purchased one of the tickets listed above, you’ll be able to change your United flight for free, although you will be responsible for additional costs if you change to a more expensive flight.
Additionally, if you’re a United MileagePlus Premier member, you are allowed to change your flight for free within 24 hours of your scheduled departure provided the new flight has the same origin and destination, departs within 24 hours of your originally scheduled flight, and there is a ticket available in your original fare class.
You may actually already have coverage, too. Many credit cards offer travel insurance as a built-in benefit to customers who pay for travel expenses on that card.
» Learn more: Does my United credit card have travel insurance?
Which United fares can be refunded?
Except for domestic Basic Economy tickets, fares can be refunded in the form of a United travel credit that you can use for future flights.
You also can receive a refund to your original form of payment for tickets that are canceled within 24 hours of purchase (as long as the flight was purchased at least one week before the original scheduled departure flight) or if you book a refundable ticket.
For award tickets, your United miles will be deposited back to your account. There are no fees for award ticket changes or cancelations unless you are a no-show.
» Learn more: Which United credit card should you get?
When you can change your United flights
For United tickets that allow for changes and that aren’t award tickets, you can change your flight right up until the time of departure. For United award tickets, you have even greater flexibility as you can change your flight even after it departs. To do this, you’ll have to pay a no-show rebooking fee of $125 to get your miles deposited back into your account.
» Learn more: What’s the value of United miles?
How to rebook your United flight at a cheaper fare
To change your United flight to a cheaper fare, you have two options.
First, you can log in to United.com and search under “My trips” for the flight you’re looking to change. From there, click the flight you’re looking to change and click “Change this flight.” Here’s an example:
When you click “Change this flight,” after you select the route and dates, you’ll see a list of flights you can choose. If there’s a flight available for less money than you originally paid, you’ll receive a United travel credit for the difference in price. So for example, if you originally paid $500 for a flight and found the new fare for $450, you can use this method to rebook your flight and receive a United travel credit for $50.
Another option is to cancel your flight and receive a United travel credit for the full fare. Once you receive the travel credit, you can use it to book your new flight. In this case, you’d receive a $500 United travel credit when you cancel, then you’d use $450 of that travel credit to book the new flight, which will give you a remaining balance of $50 for your travel credit.
Since it can sometimes take hours or even days to receive your United travel credit, we’d recommend using this approach only if the “Change this flight” option isn’t available on United.com. Calling United before canceling can also help speed up the process, as representatives can sometimes help to have the credit issued quicker than usual.
» Learn more: What to do when you get the United Explorer credit card
The bottom line
Depending on your itinerary and fare class purchased, United’s canceling and rebooking policy makes it possible to rebook and save when there’s a lower fare available. To take advantage of this option, you’ll want to avoid booking a Basic Economy ticket when flying domestically, and also remember that this option may not be available for certain international tickets originating outside of the U.S. For all other tickets, you can take advantage of United’s cancellation and rebooking policies when the price of your flight drops.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card