Here at Go-to Travel Gal, I’m all about finding the SIMPLEST ways to save money on travel. I always look for the techniques that have the MOST impact or the 20% of tasks that generate 80% of the rewards we’re looking for (see one of my favorite books, “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller for more on that concept).
I’ve put together some tips and tricks I’ve learned since beginning this hobby in 2015 to make the process of flying FREE on Southwest as easy as possible. I want you to get the MOST benefit in the LEAST amount of time. Who has time to collect miles and points full or even part-time? Not me!
Note: This post contains affiliate links for which I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking through.
5 Ways to Make Southwest Points Collection & Redemption Easier
1. Develop a System for Regularly Checking Flight Prices
One of the great perks of flying Southwest is that you can rebook flights with NO penalty if you find a lower cash — or points — price. So it makes sense to continue to check after booking a flight to see if prices are lower. If you’re like me, remembering to do this is a challenge, but not if you make it a habit and part of your routine.
I’d suggest that you put it on your to-do list weekly. One Go-to Travel Gal reader checks every Tuesday, as flights tend to be cheaper on Tuesdays. It only takes about five minutes to go to Southwest.com, click on the Low Fare Calendar and check your dates and prices.
You can also subscribe to the Go to Travel Gal weekly email in the lefthand sidebar, as I check the best Southwest deals from 30+ cities weekly and share my findings periodically. Check the last round of Southwest deals here.
Of course, you’ll need to know what you originally paid. I began keeping a spreadsheet of bookings, because I never made a note of what we paid in points and then had to look it up within my account, which took more time than I would like.
I’ve made this and four other handy tools available for you in the Frequent Flyer Toolkit, so you don’t even have to create it yourself. It’s done! All you need to do is enter your booking as soon as it’s completed. Then you can reference it weekly when checking prices.
If you do find a lower price, read this post on how to change or cancel your flight.
2. Keep Track of Rapid Rewards Shopping Points
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal, which lets you earn Southwest points by shopping online, is one of the easiest ways to accumulate points. There is no signing up for credit cards involved and you can get points for purchases you would be making anyway.
Because the points can take up to eight weeks to credit to your account, it’s easy to forget when/where you used the portal, when you should expect the points and how many you should be credited. After not getting my points a few times, but having no clue when I actually made the purchase, I created a tracking sheet for my Southwest shopping.
This, too, is included in the Frequent Flyer Toolkit, and I’ve created a column in the spreadsheet that automatically calculates you the eight-week mark once you enter the date of purchase. Then you can check this sheet weekly — why not do it when you are checking flight prices! — and see which points should be coming your way.
Here’s more help for why you may not be getting your points and what to do if you did not get them.
3. Make a List of All Travel Credit Cards
Once you really get into this hobby, you’re probably going to have more than one or two cards. It makes sense to keep a list of all travel credit cards, along with:
- When you applied for them
- Bonus points expected
- Minimum spend and required minimum spend completion date
- Account number
- Annual fee and date that will be charged
- Interest rate, etc.
- Due Date/Close Date
If you want to cancel the card before an annual fee kicks in, it’s important to make note of that date, as well as the monthly close date for keeping track of when points from expenditures on the card will credit to your account.
It’s also helpful so you know if you are at Chase’s limit of 5 new cards in 24 months. If you are over that, they will not approve you for any additional Chase cards.
If you’d like, you can use my Travel Credit Cards Tracking Sheet in the Frequent Flyer Toolkit or create your own. I also developed a Minimum Spend Calculator — also in the Toolkit — so that you can enter in all purchases as you make them and have them total at the bottom.
Especially at the end of the year, when timing is critical, depending on if you want to earn the Southwest Companion Pass this year or next, making sure you meet the mininum spend at the right time is key. By tracking it, you can ensure you don’t hit the total before you had planned.
4. Earn the Southwest Companion Pass
By far the easiest way to fly free on Southwest is to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which lets one person fly free with you for up to two years. This eliminates one person entirely from your budget.
While holding the pass, you will NEVER have to redeem points or pay cash for them to fly. This greatly reduces the number of points you’ll need to earn, thus simplifying the entire process.
Download my free ebook on how to earn the Southwest Companion Pass below.
Download Your FREE Guide & Start Flying FREE on Southwest!
5. Follow Go-to Travel Gal for Southwest Sales and Points Opportunities
By getting my email newsletter, you’ll always know about the best Southwest sales always updated here and top points-earning opportunities. Each week I also share the best ways to earn points in the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal here.
No need to check Southwest or the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal daily. I already do that for you! Just sign up for my email in the lefthand sidebar, read it and you’re good go to!
What tips do you have to make flying free on Southwest easier?
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