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TPG reader Paul emailed me with a question about Southwest Rapid Rewards:

“Is there a trick to booking award flights on Southwest that would save points? I know some American Airlines cards offer award discounts to cardholders; does Southwest have anything similar?”

Many airlines offer discounted award flights that can help you get more out of your miles. Paul mentioned the reduced mileage awards from American Airlines, which are only available to co-branded Citi AAdvantage cardholders. Air France and KLM offer Flying Blue Promo Awards, which can get you a huge discount on flights between select cities. You can also find the occasional award sale, like the one that just ended for United flights to Hawaii.

Southwest doesn’t offer discounted awards in the same way, but there are tricks to saving on redemptions with Southwest Rapid Rewards. The airline makes hay on the fact that it doesn’t charge change or cancellation fees, and that policy extends to its award flights. Southwest doesn’t have a set chart — the cost of awards is based on the going rate for airfare. That means you can book a flight at one price and then rebook later with no penalty if the price goes down. The difference in points will be instantly credited back to your account.

The only downside to that strategy is that you have to keep checking to see if prices have gone down. However, changing flights online is easy once you find a lower rate. Any time you book travel on Southwest, it’s worth keeping an eye out for fare sales later on because you can still take advantage of the lower price whether you used cash or points.

Take it from these three guy crossing their arms, Southwest has no change fees.
Southwest has no change fees, which makes it easy to get a good price on both paid and award flights.

One other great way to save on Southwest awards is with the Companion Pass, which lets a designated companion travel with you on any Southwest flight so long as there’s an available seat. That also works on both paid fares and award flights, so you can effectively save 50% of your points when you fly together.

There are no route restrictions, and Southwest continues to add service around the Caribbean and Central America, so there are plenty of opportunities to use the Companion Pass. That flexibility and value is a big part of why it came out on top in our 2015 Travel Rewards Tournament earlier this year.

In short, while Southwest doesn’t offer conventional discounts, these strategies can help you stretch your Rapid Rewards points even further.

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR
Regular APR
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Annual Fee
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
Balance Transfer
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.