Sweet Spot Sunday: Fly Southwest from Southern California to Cabo for under 8,000 points round-trip
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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.
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
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.
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.”
Step 3: Enter your trip information
A new window will pop up with a page that looks like this:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred Card – Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card – Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card – Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card – Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card – Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card – Earn 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve – Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months from account opening.
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 of The Cape Los Cabos by Melanie Lieberman
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