Earn a Southwest Companion Pass by Donating to Charity!
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I wrote about the 1-800-Flowers Southwest point promotion, and how you could get 1,500 Southwest points for every order of ~$30 or more.While the promotion has expired, it usually returns a few times a year.
I placed several orders to see how long it took for the bonus points to post to my account. Then, I decided to take the experiment a step further to try to get a Companion Pass before the end of 2014.
Similar to Frequent Miler, Emily and I worked with a local charity to help feed the hungry. We ordered sweets, cookies, and pies to distribute to the homeless in Austin over the Thanksgiving Holidays.
This deal takes some effort and coordination, but I think it’s worth it!
How Does It Work?
With this deal, you’d get 1,500 Southwest points for each purchase of ~$30 or more using promotion code “RR57“. Not all items on 1-800-Flowers are eligible, but most are.Update: The code above for 1,500 Southwest points is no longer working. But I expect a similar offer to be back again!
To make the most of the deal, it’s best to find items as close to $30 as possible (but not less!). And to save money, spend ~$30 to sign-up for the Celebrations Passport program, which gets you unlimited free shipping for a year.
If you’re starting from scratch, place 74 orders to earn the 110,000 points you need for the Companion Pass. It’s best to order near the end of December, so that the points post to your account in January. However, I don’t think the promotion will return that soon.
That way, your Companion Pass will be valid until the end of 2016, and your companion will travel for free with you for ~2 years!
My Companion Pass expires at the end of 2014. While it would be best to wait to try to get a new pass in early 2015 (to get almost 2 years of travel), I’ve already earned ~34,000 Southwest points this year.
So it made more sense for me to try to earn the pass before the end of 2014, because I only needed another ~76,000 points to reach 110,000 points for the calendar year.
As long as the 76,000 bonus points post to my account before December 31, 2014, I’ll earn the Companion Pass until the end of 2015.
Help the Homeless, Earn a Companion Pass
With the 1-800-Flowers deal, you’d get 1,500 points per ~$30 order. Because I was 76,000 Companion Pass points shy of the 110,000 requirement, I made ~51 orders (76,000 points / 1,500 bonus points per order).
We worked with FrontSteps, Austin’s largest homeless shelter.
We ordered baked goods (all ~$30 per order) from 1-800-Flowers and had them shipped directly to the shelter.
I placed the orders on November 21, 2014, and they were delivered November 25, 2014. And FrontSteps distributed the treats to hungry folks over Thanksgiving. It feels good to make a difference!
We chose sweets because we wanted to make people happy around the holidays. But you could choose fruit baskets or nuts (for a healthier option), or consider sending flowers to senior centers or hospitals.
The points posted to my Southwest account on December 3, 2014 (transactions backdated to November 25, 2014). And they’re all Companion Pass qualifying points!
Thanks to this experiment, I’ve now earned the Companion Pass for another year!
I’d say that’s a pretty good deal!
Worth It or Not?Frequent Miler has a great discussion on the costs and benefits of this deal, assuming you place 74 orders to get the full 110,000 points needed for the Companion Pass. Note: If you donate the goods to a registered charity, you should be able to get a tax receipt.
I’ll be following up with a how-to post for folks who want to try this themselves when the promotion returns. But in the meantime, here’s how my purchases broke down.
- ~$24 (~$30 minus 20% shopping portal cash back) for Celebrations Passport membership (to get free shipping)
- ~$1,655 on baked goods (51 orders X ~$32 per order with tax)
- 76,500 Southwest points, worth ~$1,094 in airfare (76,500 points X ~1.43 cents per point)
- A Companion Pass worth much more (depending on how often we use it)
- A tax receipt for my donation (value depends on your tax situation, but could be worth between ~$220 if you’re in the 20% tax bracket to ~$440 if you’re in the ~40% tax bracket)
- You’ll also get a lot of Celebrations Rewards points! I earned ~1,655 points (1 point per $1 spent), which is worth ~$160 in flowers and gifts.
- 1,655 Chase Ultimate Rewards points (by using my Chase Sapphire Preferred card). But you might consider using a card you’re trying to meet a minimum spending requirement on, or your favorite points earning card. Or an AMEX OPEN eligible card, because you’ll get a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards points per $1 you spend at 1-800-Flowers.
If Emily flies with me as a companion on every award flight we take with the points earned from this deal, we’ll almost double the value of the points. So ~$1,094 in airfare becomes over $2,000 worth of flights.
So we’re already well ahead even without the tax deduction (worth ~$220 to $440) for our donation!
Depending on your own situation, you should do the math 1st to see if it’s worth it for you. But I think this is a win-win situation – helping the homeless, and getting Big Travel with Small Money!Note: There are other (easier) ways to get extra points if you’re short points for the Companion Pass. For example, you could buy 20,000 Choice hotel points (the maximum allowed in a year) for $220 and transfer them into 6,000 Southwest points. That’s like paying ~3.6 cents per Southwest point ($220 cost of points / 6,000 points).
With the 1-800-Flowers deal, I paid a total of ~$1,679 for 76,500 Southwest points, or ~2.2 cents per point (~$1,679 cost of points / 76,500 points). So this is a much better method, especially since you’re getting merchandise and points.
You could make the most of 1-800-Flowers Southwest promotions to earn the Companion Pass. By placing multiple purchases of ~$30 each, you could earn 1,500 bonus points per order. I’ll let you know when this promotion returns!
After 74 orders you’ll have earned the 110,000 points for the Companion Pass.
And by purchasing items like baked goods, you can donate to charities like homeless shelters or food banks. You’ll get a tax receipt for your donation and help folks less fortunate.
This deal is definitely worth it if you get the Companion Pass. That’s because the value of the points and the pass (and the tax deduction) are worth much more than what you’d spend on purchases, and you’re helping others too.
Stay tuned for a detailed how-to post when the promotion comes back!
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