Quick Hits: How to use non-Southwest points to book Southwest flights


Staff member

When you’re trying to save money on flights using Orbitz or the like, you may notice that Southwest never pops up. That’s because Southwest blocks online travel agencies from viewing their flights. This becomes a problem when you want to use points to book Southwest flights. You become limited to only using Southwest points. You can’t use Ultimate Rewards, Thank You points, or Membership Rewards because you can’t see the flights!

Well, the other day on Twitter I theorycrafted in a #veryshortblogpost one possible way to pay for a Southwest flight with non-Southwest points:

1) Buy SW ticket with a Flexperks card
2) Redeem points using real time mobile rewards
3) Profit. #veryshortblogpost

— Joe Cheung (@asthejoeflies) April 2, 2018

This past weekend I killed three birds with one stone: I booked my first Southwest flight ever, burned some points I’ve been hoarding, and I tested out my theory. It worked! I figured at least someone might prefer to see some circles and arrows, so here’s how to use US Bank Flexperks to book Southwest flights. I’m guessing you can do something similar with Capital One and Barclays Arrival.

1. Enroll in Real-Time Rewards

If you haven’t yet, enroll in real-time mobile rewards. Log in to your account, click on “My Rewards”, and then click on “Redeem Rewards and Access Card Benefits.” From there click on “Card Benefits” and then “Real-Time Rewards”.

Enroll your phone number and then do the most important thing: make sure Airlines and Other Travel is checked off as eligible for Real-Time Rewards. I may or may not have had to cancel my first attempt within 24 hours due to not having done this.
I’d also suggest reducing the minimum purchase amount.

2. Buy your Southwest ticket with the Flexperks card you just enrolled

Self explanatory.

3. Reply to the Real-Time Rewards text with “REDEEM”

You’ll eventually (very quickly in my case) receive a text asking if you want to redeem X points for Y dollars. Since Flexperks are simple now, this will be a rate of 1.5 cents per Flexperk point. Reply with “REDEEM” and you’ve redeemed non-Southwest points for a Southwest flight. Huzzah.

Final Thoughts

You know, as I wrote this, I realized someone must have figured this out before, at the very least for Capital One or Arrival. But, since I never bother to fly Southwest, I had never experimented before. Anyway, if you knew this already, at least I kept it short?

Anyway, I found this to be very useful – and plan to never do it or fly Southwest again
J/K, we’ll see how the flight goes. Let me know if there are any nuances I missed in the comments, thanks!

Continue reading...