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Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly Southwest from Southern California to Cabo for under 8,000 points round-trip

June 20, 2021
8 min read
The Cape Los Cabos
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When we talk about airline sweet spots, we're often too focused on long-haul flights and zone-based award charts. Yes, flying to Europe for just 21,500 miles round-trip is a terrific bargain, but you can also find a sweet spot award closer to home with a revenue-based loyalty program like Southwest Rapid Rewards.

Between incredible fare sales and two free checked bags, Southwest offers tremendous value for no-frills travelers who want to get to their destination cheaply. One of those destinations is Cabo San Lucas, which has seen a surge in popularity over the last year. Popular among Southern California residents, Cabo is easy to get to and there are several great hotels you can book with points.

But most importantly, you can get there for under 8,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points. So let's take a look at this Southwest sweet spot and how you can book it for your own Cabo getaway.

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Why it’s special

Being able to fly round-trip between Southern California and Cabo San Lucas for just 8,000 points is an incredible bargain. Most domestic frequent flyer programs require 20,000-35,000 miles for a round-trip economy class ticket to Europe, plus you'll be on the hook for baggage fees.

  • 35,000 miles United
  • 30,000 AAdvantage miles (off-peak)
  • 25,000 AAdvantage miles (off-peak)
  • 20,000 Alaska miles

Your first two checked bags are free when flying Southwest and you have several options for departing airports. Southwest operates direct flights to Los Cabos International Airport (SJD) out of John Wayne Airport (SNA) and San Diego International (SAN). You can certainly connect from other airports. However, I only found sub-8,000 point fares flying out of Los Angeles (LAX) and San Diego during my research.

How to book this award

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Step-by-step instructions on how to book online or via phone.

Step 1: Log in to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account

When you're booking an award ticket, it's always best to log in to your account first to expedite the process. Sure, you can log in on the check-out page, but why delay the inevitable?

Head to Southwest.com and click on the yellow "login" button on the top right side of the homepage.

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Step 2: Click on "Low fare calendar"

Once you're logged in and back on the homepage, enter your departure and arriving airport. Then select the "Low Fare Calendar."

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest.com)

Step 3: Enter your trip information

A new window will pop up with a page that looks like this:

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest.com)

Make sure the correct airports are selected and the month you want to start your search with. Be sure to check off the "points" button on the upper right side to see award rates. You can also start with "Dollars" checked off and then switch to points rates on the results page.

Step 4: Search the calendar for the cheapest fares

The low fare calendar will allow you to view the cheapest Wanna Get Away fares every month. The cheapest fares I've found on both the SNA-SJD and LAX-SJD routes was 3,569 miles one-way. If that's what you're aiming for, start your search in August.

These fares are available through March 2022, though frequency is limited on peak travel dates. Go ahead and select the departure and return dates that work best for you.

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest.com)

Step 5: Choose a flight

Once you've chosen your travel dates, you'll see a list of flights available that day. The cheapest flights will be on the Wanna Get Away column.

Select the fare you want and then continue to the checkout page.

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest.com)

Step 6: Confirm and pay

On the next page, you'll see a summary of your itinerary, along with the total cost of your ticket. As you can see, the taxes are more than double on the return flight for this LAX-SJD itinerary for August.

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest.com)

The same ticket works out to $249.66 per person if you were to book a paid fare. TPG values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each. That makes the 7,138 points worth about $107.07. Factor in the $111.96 in taxes and you're looking at $219.03 out of pocket. That's less than the $249.66 paid fare, making this a solid redemption.

Alternately, you could charge the taxes on this ticket to your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card and offset the cost with 11,196 Capital One miles.

(Screenshot courtesy of southwest.com)

Related: How to get to Los Cabos on points and miles

How to earn points for this award

Thanks to the airline's co-branded credit cards and transfer partnership, earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points is fairly easy. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer to Southwest instantly at a 1:1 ratio. This is a great option if you don't want to get a new Southwest card and have some Ultimate Rewards to spare.

If you are starting from scratch, you can earn Southwest points through the Rapid Rewards shopping portal, dining rewards program or a credit card. For example, the following cards offer enough points for you to cover multiple Southwest award tickets between Southern California and Los Cabos. In fact, with some of these bonuses, you might be able to cover airfare for an entire family.

Before applying for a Chase card, keep in mind that these cards are subject to Chase’s 5/24 rule. You likely won’t be approved if you’ve had five or more credit applications (across any bank) in the last 24 months. Chase also enforces a 24-48 month rule on card sign-up bonuses. Depending on the card, if you've received a sign-up bonus within 24-48 months, you won't be eligible for another one.

Related: Earn up to 65K bonus points for Southwest personal cards

Bottom line

Southwest Rapid Rewards isn't always mentioned in terms of its sweet spots. However, with the airline pricing awards based on fare cost and often running terrific fare sales, there are plenty of sweet spots out there. Your best bet for finding them is to use the Low Fare Calendar function to find the cheapest fares out of your home airport.

With a little flexibility, you might find award tickets that cost half of what other rewards programs charge and stretch your valuable points further.

Featured image by The Cape Los Cabos (Photo by Melanie Lieberman)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site

Rewards

3 - 4X points
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

Intro offer

60,000 bonus points
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$250

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees