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Buying points usually is not a great deal unless you’re topping-up for an award or if you’ve done the math to see if buying points is cheaper than paying cash for a ticket.
Does Buying Southwest Points Makes Sense
But perhaps it could be different if you’ve got the Southwest Companion Pass?
Emily and I have a Companion Pass and this is perhaps the best miles and points perk which we have. Why? Because it lets a companion travel with you for free whenever you travel on Southwest. It doesn’t matter if your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash – your companion flies free!
You can redeem 1 Southwest point for a fixed 1.67 cents towards their cheapest Wanna Getaway fares. This is a bad deal because each point costs 2.5 cents, so you’re buying 1 point for 2.5 cents and then using that 1 point for flights worth only 1.67 cents. That said, buying points could make sense if you’re just a few points away from an award.
But if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, 1 Southwest point gets you 3.34 cents (1.67 cents X 2) towards Wanna Getaway fares. That’s because your companion gets to fly with you for free (you only pay $2.50 per segment in security fees) even if you book your flight with points (or if someone else books your flight with points).
So maybe it does makes sense to buy Southwest points for 2.5 cents per point if you’re going to redeem them for 3.34 cents per point!
Why You Should NOT Buy Points for a Southwest Ticket With the Companion Pass
No, you’re still better off paying cash even if you have a Southwest Companion Pass!
Let’s say that you ran out of Southwest points and were considering paying $100 in cash for a Southwest Wanna Get Away ticket and adding your companion for free.
A $100 ticket will cost you $100 in cash and you will earn 600 Southwest points (you earn 6 points per $1 towards a Wanna Get Away Fare). 600 Southwest points are worth $10 towards Wanna Get Away fares, so you’re effectively paying only $90.
On the other hand, you will need 6,000 Southwest points to buy a $100 Wanna Get Away ticket ($100 ticket price X 60 points per $1 ticket price).
But it will cost you $150 (6,000 X 2.5 cents per Southwest point) to buy 6,000 points, so this is NOT a good value!
If you have a Southwest Companion Pass, you’re much better off paying $100 for a Southwest flight and earning 600 Southwest points worth $10, than to pay $150 to buy Southwest points and then redeem them for a Wanna Get Away fare.
Note that the calculations for Business Select and Anytime fares also show that you are better off paying cash for a ticket than buying Southwest points.
You’re better off paying cash to buy a Southwest ticket once you run out of Southwest points than to buy Southwest points at 2.5 cents per point. This is true even if you have a Southwest Companion Pass!