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Did you know you can redeem Citi ThankYou points for Southwest flights even though their flights don’t show up on the Citi travel website?
This is good news for folks with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card or Citi Prestige® Card. Because you get 1.25 cents per point toward airfare when you use Citi ThankYou points linked to these 2 cards to book flights over the phone.
And folks with the Companion Pass can get double the value booking Southwest flights with Citi ThankYou points!
A huge thank you to Million Mile Secrets reader Vivek for sharing this secret booking method!
Redeem Citi ThankYou Points for Southwest Flights
But it’s NOT possible to book online. So you’ll have to call the Citi travel center at 800-842-6596.
The good news is when you book this way, you’re basically paying cash for the flight. This means you’ll earn Southwest loyalty points and credit toward A-List status!
Here are the steps.
Step 1. Find Your Flight on the Southwest Website
First, search the Southwest website for your desired flight. This will save you time when you call the Citi travel center.
For example, I searched a one-way flight from Austin to Houston, which costs ~$94 if you pay cash.
So I wrote down the details before calling Citi.
Step 2. Call the Citi Travel Center
Next, call the Citi travel center at 800-842-6596 to book the flight.
Because I had the information from the Southwest website, I gave the booking agent with the date of departure, flight number, and travel time. He was quickly able to locate the flight I wanted.
Step 3. Verify the Price
During my test booking, the Citi travel representative said the flight cost was ~$124, which was ~$30 more than the cost displayed on the Southwest website.
After I explained the Southwest price was cheaper, the representative was able to check a different system and get the same price as the Southwest website.
Be sure to ask the agent to check all of their systems so the price matches Southwest.
Remember, the number of Citi ThankYou points you’ll use is based on the cash cost of the flight. So you’ll want to get the best price!
Step 4. Book Flight and Redeem Citi ThankYou Points
The Citi travel representative will take care of booking your flight and deduct the required number of ThankYou points from your account.
But it’s good to know how many points are required.
Step 5. Review Flight Confirmation Email
You’ll get an email from Citi with the details of your flight and the number of points you used.
In this sample booking, I used ~7,000 Citi ThankYou points linked to my Citi Prestige to book a Southwest flight.
Step 6. Add Your Southwest Companion Companion
This is an optional step for folks with the Companion Pass.
You can add a companion to any Southwest flight. It doesn’t matter if it’s booked directly through the airline or a travel portal!
The trick is to add the flight to your Southwest frequent flyer account. Just enter the confirmation number from the Citi email and the flight will show up in your account.
How to Quickly Liquidate ThankYou Points for Southwest Flights
For folks without immediate plans to fly Southwest, there’s a quick way to convert all of your Citi ThankYou points to Southwest travel credit to use for future travel.
This might be useful if you’re looking to downgrade or cancel a Citi ThankYou credit card and don’t want to lose your points.
The trick is to redeem your Citi ThankYou points for ANY Southwest flight. Then, cancel the flight and use the travel credit when you have firm plans.
Here’s how to do it.
Step 1. Book ANY Southwest Flight
You’ll follow the same steps from above to book a Southwest flight. But depending on the number of Citi ThankYou points you’re looking to redeem, you can save time by booking a more expensive Southwest fare.
For example, let’s say you have 50,000 Citi ThankYou points. These points are worth $625 in airfare if you have Citi ThankYou Premier card (50,000 points X 1.25 cents per point toward travel).
Instead of booking multiple cheap Southwest flights, you can book a more expensive fare. Remember, you won’t be taking this flight. It’s just a shortcut to get Southwest travel credit for future travel.
For example, I found a one-way Business Select fare from Newark to Houston, which costs ~$613.
Step 2. Cancel Southwest Flight Booked Through Travel Portal
After your flight is booked, you’ll have to cancel the trip to get the travel credit.
Go to the Southwest cancel flight website. And enter the confirmation number from the Citi email.
Step 3. Keep Southwest Travel Credit for Future Use
The last step is to hold the airfare value for future use.
You do NOT want to request a refund. Because the flight was booked by Citi, which means they would get the refund.
Note: You’ll have 1 year to use the travel credit.
You can use Citi ThankYou points to book Southwest flights. To book, call the Citi travel center at 800-842-6596.
Thanks to Million Mile Secrets reader Vivek for sharing this tip!