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Planning a trip? Last year’s travel voucher could be about to expire

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

Many were issued vouchers or credits good for a future date. Now, one year later, those credits have likely expired — or are about to.

More than half of all adults, or about 54%, who laid out money for activities that were canceled due to the pandemic already lost those funds, according to a study by Bankrate.com.

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Fewer received partial refunds, although it varied by 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 refunded for canceled flights, sporting events, concerts, theater tickets or hotel stays, Bankrate found.

Although many consumers accepted credit or vouchers rather than refunds, often good for up to a year, few expected it would be this long before the country began to open up again.

With those expiration dates quickly approaching, it’s a good time to check in on those vouchers, advised Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com.

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

At Frontier Airlines, for example, credits for future travel originally required that travelers rebook within 90 days. The airline then modified that policy and now credits are good for up to one year.

Additionally, flights can currently be booked through April 2022 and the budget carrier is offering no-fee changes. Other airlines have made similar accommodations.

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

In fact, summer travel reservations are picking up, thanks to steady improvements in the availability of Covid-19 vaccine shots, while the cost of airfare and hotel stays remain low. (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people who are fully vaccinated can safely travel within the U.S. but cautions that international travel poses additional risks.)

“There are a lot of good deals right now,” Rossman said. “The longer you wait, the more likely prices are to rise or things fill up.”

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