Lyn writes about how to fly free on Southwest on her GoToTravelGal.com blog. And wrote a free e-book that shows you exactly how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets 1 person fly nearly free with you for up to 2 years. Lyn recently used Southwest’s hotel booking site to earn Southwest points. And I’ve asked her to share her top tips!
Lyn: In early December, we were about 20,000 qualifying Southwest points shy of the 110,000 points we needed to earn the Southwest Companion Pass. And I decided to use Southwest’s hotel booking portal to get us closer.
Here are tips to help you make the most of this option for earning Southwest points!
Get to Know SouthwestHotels.com
In 2017, Southwest introduced SouthwestHotels.com, which let you to earn up to 10,000 Southwest points per night when booking a hotel. These points DO qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass.
The site has thousands of hotels to choose from, but some do NOT earn significant Southwest points. Here are step-by-step instructions for how to find and book hotels on the website. And keep in mind if you book your hotel through Southwest, you will forfeit any hotel loyalty points.
Earn More Southwest Points With a Few Tricks
When I realized we were NOT going to reach our 110,000 Southwest Companion Pass points through holiday spending on our Chase Southwest credit cards or via the Southwest shopping portal, I determined my best option to earn a large number of points quickly was to book a hotel through the SouthwestHotels.com portal.
We live in Indianapolis, so I spent days searching for high-point value but low-cost options for either Indianapolis or Chicago, just a couple hours north of us and a city we like to visit.
Here are 5 secrets I learned after spending so much time on the site!
1. Points Offers Change by the Minute
A hard lesson I learned is that the points offers seem to change fast. I’d find a fantastic deal and wait a couple hours to discuss it with my husband, only to find it gone by the time we looked again. So if you find a great option, grab it quickly!
2. There Is No Good Way to Sort for Points
Unfortunately, it’s NOT easy to view the highest Southwest points offers, as there is no option to sort it that way. It’s best to narrow your options, such as searching for “Downtown Chicago” or “Chicago Loop” instead of just “Chicago, Illinois,” to limit the number of properties to look through.
There is an option to limit results by “Southwest Airlines preferred hotels,” but I found that removed some high-point hotels, so clearly that’s NOT linked with the number of Southwest points.
3. Consider Booking a Room That You Don’t Use
We ultimately booked a room at a hotel in a less-than-desirable area of Indianapolis, because it offered the most points (10,000) for the least price (~$330 for 2 nights). We checked-in, confirmed we could simply leave the keys in the room to be automatically checked out and never went back again. 🙂
It’s certainly nice to take advantage of a room if you’re going to pay for it. But don’t limit yourself if you’re simply booking the hotel to earn points.
While it’s not ideal to spend ~$330 to earn the Companion Pass, it’s better than not having it at all. We will get much more value than ~$330 for one of us to fly free all year. And we will use those 10,000 Southwest points to book free flights!
We also used our Chase Sapphire Reserve card to pay for the room and earned 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points for travel expenses, adding another ~990 points to our total. These points also transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Click Each Offer to Search for MORE Points
When your search results appear, you’ll see a blue box at the bottom right of each result with the number of points you can earn. The blue box only appears on results with higher points-earning options, whereas the rest (usually under 1,000 points per night) show up in a white box. These boxes show you the total Southwest points you can earn across your entire stay, not just per night.
Scan through the blue boxes for the highest points, and then click on the yellow “Select Your Room“ box to open the listing. I found there would often be a HIGHER hidden points option for just another $20 or $30!
Don’t assume the blue box in your initial search results is the highest number of points you can earn. Keep clicking!
5. Points Credit 2 to 3 Days After Your Stay
If you need points in a hurry, this is a good option, as the points credit just 2 to 3 days after checkout. Ours arrived on Wednesday after checking out on a Sunday.
Could You Earn Your Southwest Companion Pass This Way?
Because the Southwest points earned through SouthwestHotels.com will qualify toward the 110,000 qualifying points you need to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, you could potentially earn your pass through hotel stays.
Because you will have to PAY for these hotels stays, it could get expensive, and there are certainly less expensive ways to earn substantial points instead, like signing-up for the Chase Southwest credit cards.
However, if you will be paying for hotels anyway, like for a business trip, this could be a good option! Otherwise, you may want to use it as a supplement to earn additional points, as I did. Read exactly how I earned my 2017 Southwest Companion Pass, good through the end of 2018.
Booking through SouthwestHotels.com is a great option if you quickly need Southwest points and don’t mind paying for the room. The points you earn DO qualify toward the Southwest Companion Pass! To get the most points possible, remember to:
- Search for the highest points (in the blue boxes on the site)
- Click further to see if there are even MORE points offered
- Book quickly before the offer disappears – because they can and do!
Lyn used the website to help earn her Southwest Companion Pass this year. With these tips, you can earn it faster, too!