Travel Hacking: Using Credit Card Points on Southwest
I’d used an airline card quite some time ago to get a free flight home for Christmas (and cancelled it before the annual fee hit). It worked really well, my credit score is still great, and it was overall a really easy process. I haven’t experimented with travel hacking since. However, with T’s impending move to the bay area I looked into my options to ease the travel burden.
Southwest is my favorite airline for the short trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco (like, are there really any other options!?), so my initial instinct was to get the Southwest Visa card. The current Southwest deal is for “two round trip flights”, which is 50,000 rewards points. Chase Sapphire was offering a similar deal (currently down to 40k), but allows transfer of points to a variety of airlines (Southwest, United, British Airways). I strategically got the Chase card before we booked our Alaska trip because I knew I could meet the spending requirements ($3k in 3 months). As a bonus, I was able to transfer another 11,000 points from my old Chase card to my new rewards account.
Armed with 60,000 miles, T and I took advantage of last week’s fall sale on Southwest and booked all of our fall flights . Southwest is a different than other rewards programs I’ve used (Delta, American), in that when the flight goes on sale, the “points” price is also less. Most of the flights were <3,000 points one-way.
- 1 way ticket for him
- 6 RT tickets from San Francisco to Los Angeles for him (August, September (2), October (2), November)
- 2 RT ticket from Los Angeles to San Francisco for me (September, October)
- AND I have about 10-15k points left!
It was a little overwhelming to book so many tickets all at once! Southwest is really flexible, and if we need to change or cancel the tickets, the points can go towards future flights. Also… that is a crazy travel schedule! We didn’t intend to have quite so many flights, but with various events and pre-planned trips, it turned out to be a little excessive. I’m kind of embarrassed by the excess & luxury of seeing each other so much… but I’m so glad!
Our last travel to book for the year will be Christmas flights to the Midwest. We’ll pay full price for those, since we get the most bang for the “points” on short flights. I think T will get the Southwest card to get 50,000 points to help us get through the spring.
Have you ever tried travel hacking? I have a hard time explaining to my non-PF real life friends how and why we had so many points without sounding like we are being careless! I think it is a great strategy for people who already know how to manage their money to save big on travel.