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Update: The step-by-step guide below to using Pay With Points for Southwest flights still works for AMEX Business Platinum cardholders.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Recently, I wrote why I selected Southwest as the airline on my AMEX Business Platinum card.
I think the 50% points back perk opens up a terrific new way to use AMEX Membership Rewards points for Southwest flights.
But unlike other airlines in the AMEX Pay With Points program, you can NOT book Southwest flights online through the AMEX travel portal.
I’ll provide a step-by-step guide for using AMEX Membership Rewards points to book Southwest flights!
American Express Business Platinum Southwest Airlines
To use AMEX Membership Rewards points for Southwest flights, you must have The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. And Southwest has to be your selected airline!
Keep in mind, you can combine points from other AMEX Membership Rewards cards, like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, to use towards Southwest flights. But you’ll need the Business Platinum card to use Pay With Points for Southwest flights.
Then, you’ll call AMEX Membership Rewards to credit your points, which will offset the purchase.
Remember, because of the 50% points back perk, you’ll get 2 cents per point when you use AMEX Membership Rewards points to book coach airfare on Southwest if it’s your selected airline.
For example, you’ll initially use 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a $100 flight. But you’ll get 5,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points back. In the end, you’ll use 5,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a $100 flight, which gets you 2 cents per point (100 / 5,000).
Here’s how to book Southwest flights with AMEX Membership Rewards points!
Step 1. Book Southwest Flight and Pay With Business Platinum Card
First, book your flight through the Southwest website. In this example, I’m booking a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Denver, which costs ~$158.
On the payment page, pay with your AMEX Business Platinum card.
Because you’re paying for the flight, you’ll earn Southwest loyalty points and credit towards A-List status.
Step 2. Wait for Flight Purchase to Post to AMEX Statement
Next, wait for the airfare purchase to post to your credit card statement. In my experience, this usually takes 2 days.
Step 3. Call AMEX Membership Rewards
Once the flight purchase has posted to your account, you can call AMEX Membership Rewards at 800-297-3276 to use your AMEX Membership Rewards points to credit the charge.
You’ll use 100 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 you spend on the flight.
So the ~$158 example flight I showed requires ~15,800 AMEX Membership Rewards points to offset the charge.
Remember, even though you’ll get 50% of your points back in the next step, you’ll still need the full amount of points at the time you call to credit the purchase.
Step 4. Wait to Get 50% of Your Points Back
Getting 50% of your AMEX Membership Rewards points back is automatic. But you’ll have to wait 8 to 10 weeks to see them in your account. It’s possible the AMEX Membership Rewards representative can apply the rebate instantly when you call in to apply points to the airfare purchase.
This is a long time to wait. But I think it’s worth it because this method requires the fewest number of points to book a Southwest flight.
Adding Your Southwest Companion Is an AMAZING Deal
Because you’ll get DOUBLE the value per point. Instead of 2 cents per point, you’ll get 4 cents per point!
And you can even use AMEX Membership Rewards points to cover the cost of your companion’s taxes and fees. This means they’ll fly with you completely free!
Here’s how to do it!
Step 1. Add Your Companion
In this example, I’m adding a companion to the Southwest flight I booked earlier. Visit your Southwest account page, and click “Add Companion” to the desired flight.
Step 2. Pay Taxes and Fees With Business Platinum Card
Next, you’ll pay the taxes and fees with your Business Platinum card. For this flight, the cost is ~$11.
Step 3. Credit Taxes & Fees Charge Using AMEX Membership Rewards Points
The next few steps are optional for folks who’d like to use points to offset the taxes and fees you pay when adding a companion.
First, wait for the charge to post your AMEX statement.
Then, you can call AMEX Membership Rewards at 800-297-3276 to use your AMEX Membership Rewards points to credit the charge.
You’ll use 1,120 AMEX Membership Rewards points to offset the $11.20 charge.
You should see the taxes and fees credit on your statement within 2 days.
Step 4. Wait to Get 50% of Your Points Back
Finally, wait 8 to 10 weeks to see the 50% of your AMEX Membership Rewards points returned back to your account.
It’s a personal choice if you want to use your points to credit the taxes and fees charges. You’re still getting 2 cents per point, which is a good deal!
Why AMEX Pay With Points Is the Best Option for Southwest Flights
Compared to other redemption options, you get the most value per point by using AMEX Membership Rewards points and the 50% points back perk to book Southwest flights.
For example, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Southwest. But you’ll only get a value of ~1.25 to ~1.43 cents per Southwest point. And you won’t earn loyalty points or credit.
Or, if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can call Chase to book Southwest flights through the Chase travel portal and get 1.5 cents per point.
And points earned on other Ultimate Rewards cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, are only worth 1.25 cents per point through the Chase travel portal.
So using AMEX Membership Rewards points linked to your Business Platinum card is the ONLY way to get a value of 2 cents per point!
This is a great deal because you’ll get a value of 2 cents per point, compared to 1.5 cents per point for folks with the Chase Sapphire Reserve who book through the Chase travel portal. Or even less if you transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points directly to Southwest.
And folks with the Companion Pass get DOUBLE the value (4 cents per point) by using AMEX Membership Rewards points linked to their Business Platinum card.
To use AMEX Membership Rewards points for Southwest flights, first purchase the flight through the Southwest website. Then, contact AMEX Membership Rewards at 800-297-3276 to use points to offset the charge.
Within 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll get 50% of your points back.