I booked 30 flights with 1 card bonus — reader success story

Apr 1, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Ben, who used Southwest points to save on weekend trips:

Not long ago, I moved to Baltimore for work, but I wanted to spend weekends with my wife, who lives in Boston. Southwest Airlines flies between Boston and Baltimore and has customer-friendly cancellation policies, so it was a good fit for me to get back and forth. I applied for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card, which (at the time) came with a sign-up bonus of 70,000 points after meeting the $5,000 spending requirement in the first three months. Including points from spending, I earned about 75,000 Rapid Rewards points in total.

I initially used those points to book 23 one-way flights at 3,193 points each. Later, I discovered that Southwest had lowered the cost of those flights to 2,468 points each. I used the change reservation feature to rebook at the lower price, and the difference of 725 points per flight was refunded to my account. With those points I was able to book seven additional flights, so I now have 30 one-way flights (or 15 round-trip flights) booked between Boston and Baltimore to visit my wife during the weekends!

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Southwest Airlines doesn’t provide premium seating, doesn’t have airline partners, and prices awards based on a (mostly) fixed redemption value. As a result, the Rapid Rewards program offers limited opportunities for a high-end flight experience, but what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in flexibility. Southwest awards can be changed or canceled with no fee, so you only have to pay the difference in fare when you revise your itinerary. If that difference happens to be negative like in Ben’s case, you can rebook flights at a discount from the original price and the balance will be refunded to your account. As a flyer who values convenience over comfort on shorter and medium-length flights, that flexibility is why Southwest is my go-to for domestic travel.

I think this story backs up the argument made recently by Zach Honig that you shouldn’t burn your points and miles on merchandise, gift cards and other low-value redemptions. While your travel plans are likely on hold and and the industry is in turmoil due to the outbreak of COVID-19, your rewards will be worth far more if you wait to redeem them for flights, hotels and other expenses once traveling becomes prudent. Case in point: Ben’s sign-up bonus was enough to book 15 round-trip flights, or, for example, he could have purchased this Garmin GPS watch that retails for under $500. Even with the steeply-discounted airfare available at present (Southwest fares between Baltimore and Boston are currently as low as $39 one-way), redeeming for flights is clearly the superior option.

Related: Should you really book that incredible travel deal right now?

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Ben a gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to info@thepointsguy.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published, we’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure. Due to the volume of submissions, we can’t respond to each story individually, but we’ll be in touch if yours is selected.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured photo by Chiara Salvadori/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,600

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.