How Rebooking Saved Me 18,000 Points — Reader Success Story

Oct 1, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Kasey, who trimmed the cost of an award by nearly one third. Here’s what he had to say:

I booked Southwest flights to Salt Lake City for my wife and kids so they could see my sister-in-law’s new baby in January. We have a decent amount of Chase Ultimate Rewards points stashed up from sign-up bonuses and category spending, and we were able to transfer those points to Southwest to get three round-trip tickets for 20,700 points each (about 62,000 points total) — worth around $930 according to your valuations.

I had heard that when booking Southwest, you should check back periodically to see if you can get lower rates. Lo and behold, I checked back about a month later and was able to find the exact same round-trip flights for about 2,000 points cheaper. Not a whole lot, obviously, but the story doesn’t end there.

I checked back again last week, and if I was willing to book at an airport about 10 minutes closer to us with similar flight times, I could get tickets for under 15,000 points apiece. Naturally, I did so without hesitation. As a side note, I had checked prices at that airport when I booked the original tickets, and had actually found them to be more expensive.

The lesson is to always check back on Southwest flights to see if you can find a better deal. It saved me about 18,000 points total — more than enough for another round-trip ticket. I hope this can help somebody out!

Southwest famously has no change or cancellation fees, so like Kasey did, you can rebook your flight at a lower price with no penalty. The rebooking process is incredibly easy, as it can be done entirely online and takes just a few minutes. Even better, Southwest recently added a new website feature that shows whether the cost of your itinerary has gone up or down, so you don’t have to remember what you paid initially.

This strategy works for both award and revenue fares, but be mindful of how Southwest treats refunds in each case. When you change an award, leftover points are deposited back to your account and can be reused like normal. When you change a revenue fare, however, any leftover cash balance is issued as travel funds that expire one year from the original purchase date.

That’s on par with most airline vouchers, but Southwest has an unfriendly policy that the entire value of a ticket adopts the earliest expiration date of any funds used. To avoid this potential pitfall, I recommend using Southwest travel funds at the earliest opportunity, and paying close attention to those expiration dates so you don’t risk losing even more money when you rebook.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Kasey for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline 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, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

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

Featured photo by Darwin Fan/Getty Images

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