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INSIDER SECRET: One of the great things about Southwest award flights is that there are no blackout dates for booking flights with points, so you can book any flight any time.
Southwest is a favorite airline of many for multiple reasons, including the fact that they offer the best deal in travel with the Southwest Companion Pass. Lots of us on the Million Mile Secrets team and readers have used Southwest points to fly to popular spots like New York City, Las Vegas, Cancun, Punta Cana, San Diego, Austin and more!
But if you’re new to the miles and points hobby or have just recently become interested in making the most of Southwest’s customer friendly frequent flyer program, you’re probably here looking for some tips and tricks to use.
Let’s take a look at the basics of how to use Southwest points for free travel.
How to Use Southwest Points
First, to collect Southwest points, you will need a Rapid Rewards account. Rapid Rewards is the Southwest Airlines frequent flyer program. It’s easy to sign-up for an account right on Southwest’s homepage. Check out this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to setup a Southwest account.
If you need more Southwest points, you can earn them directly from the following cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest is also a Chase transfer partner, so if you need to top off your account you can move points when you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Benefits of Flying Southwest
Southwest offers tons of great perks! All flyers can check up to two bags for free and bring one carry-on and one personal item on the plane.
The points needed to book a flight on Southwest are based on the cost of the flight and so they fluctuate, unlike other airlines that have a set number of points to book a flight within a specific distance or zone. Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each.
Even better, there are no blackout dates for booking flights with points, so you can book any flight any time, though obviously more popular itineraries (think Spring Break and Christmas travel!) will require more points.
Southwest also does not charge change fees, so you can cancel or change your flight without penalty. That said, you’ll have to pay any increase in fare if you change your flight.
If you cancel your flight you’ll be issued a Southwest credit if you paid in cash and booked a Wanna Get Away fare. If you booked with Southwest points, the points will immediately be credited back to your account – which is nice!
With these lenient cancellation rules, we always suggest booking a flight if you find a good price because you can always cancel and rebook if you find a lower price.
Booking a Southwest Flight With Points
Here is a step-by-step walk-through of how to book a Southwest flight with points.
1. Start on Southwest’s Homepage
To book a Southwest flight using your Southwest points, it’s easiest to start at the Low Fare Calendar. Log into your Southwest Rapid Rewards account and then click the “Low Fare Calendar.” This allows you to see the lowest point price for a flight across a range of dates. You can then select a date that works for you that offers the lowest possible price.
2. Enter Your Search Criteria
Enter your departure city, destination and the month you will be traveling along with the total number of passengers. Then choose “Points“ at the top right and click the “Search” button.
3. Review Dates and Total Points Needed
You’ll get a list of the lowest price in points on each day of the month for both outbound and return flights. You can select a departing date and returning date to see the flight options. The various flight options can be sorted using the “Fare Type” dropdown. You can select “Lowest fare” to see the cheapest options.
Choose the outbound and return flights you want and click “Continue.”
4. Select Your Flights
The next page will list flight options on that date along with the cost in points each way. Again, you’ll be able to filter the results by things like departure time, nonstop flights, etc. Make your selections and click “Continue.”
5. Continue to Checkout or Save Flight
From there you’ll see the total cost of the flight. Included is the $5.60 mandatory government security fee per person per direction included in the total price. Double check that everything looks right and then choose to “Save this flight for later” or “Continue.”
6. Complete Your Purchase
To purchase the flight, you will select the “Continue” where you’ll then be able to fill in the passenger information and pay for the mandatory government security fee. That’s it!
Southwest has a great frequent flyer program that not only allows you to earn the coveted Southwest Companion Pass but is incredibly flexible with no blackout dates or cancellation fees.
Within no time at all, you can be flying free on Southwest using points that are easy to earn and use!
Looking for more information on Southwest? Check out these posts:
- Southwest Points Value
- Southwest Elite Status
- Everything to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Use the Southwest Companion Pass
- Best Credit Cards to Earn Southwest Points
- How to Setup a Southwest Account
- Southwest Award Chart
- Do Southwest Points Expire?
- Current Southwest Sales
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