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INSIDER SECRET: There is little downside to booking Southwest flights early because if the price of your flight drops you can cancel and re-book at the lower rate for no additional fees. Just keep in mind that depending on the fare, the refund may be in the form of a travel credit, not cash.
When the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal switched over to being powered by Expedia, the change was mostly positive but not without drawbacks. One of the biggest hits was losing the ability to book Southwest flights through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Good news — as of a few days ago, that has changed!
Use Chase Ultimate Rewards Points for Southwest Flights
You can’t search for Southwest flights online through the Chase travel portal, so you’ll have to call Chase travel at (866) 951-6592 to book. Also, according to The Points Guy, you’ll need to have one of these Chase cards to use this feature:
Being able to pay for you Southwest flights with Chase points is a nice option because you’ll be able to book free flights and earn frequent flyer miles at the same time (This could be helpful if you’re close to earning a Southwest Companion Pass). When you book through Chase travel, your Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each if you have the Sapphire Preferred and 1.5 cents each if you have the Sapphire Reserve.
There is no Southwest award chart, but Southwest points are usually worth 1.4-1.7 cents each, so it may be a better deal to transfer your Chase points to Southwest and then book the flight. Keep in mind that you will pay taxes on award flights, which isn’t much for domestic routes but can top $100 on certain Caribbean flights. When you pay for the flight by calling Chase travel your Chase points can be used to cover the taxes as well.
Remember, Southwest doesn’t charge change or cancellation fees. This is great because if the price of your flight drops you can easily re-book at the lower price. If you cancel an award flight booked with Southwest points, the points are automatically refunded to your account and available to use (although Southwest points can expire). If you book Southwest’s cheapest Wanna Get Away fares and pay with Chase points, the refund will be in the form of a travel credit, which would need to be used within a year.
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Hat tip: View From the Wing