With COVID-19 changing the way people fly — or limiting the amount they want to fly — airlines have been quite generous in extending the expiration dates of vouchers and certificates. Southwest is one of those companies far ahead of the game and have even taken their policies even one step further to really focus on the customer.
In addition to extended the dates of Travel Funds, they are even allowing you to convert your travel funds into Southwest Rapid Reward points. Through Dec. 15, 2020, any eligible travel fund can be converted at a rate of 1.28 points per dollar. This is your purchase price. Southwest points can then typically be redeemed for about 1.4 cents per points, so you are actually getting a fabulous value since you are redeeming points for more than what you are “buying” them at. Just keep in mind though that you’ll still have to pay the taxes and fees when you use points.
I personally have three different travel funds set to expire Sept. 7, 2022 and you can see that they all have the opportunity to be converted to points at the same rate.
Which travel funds qualify?
All travel funds that have an expiration date of Sept. 7, 2022 are eligible to be converted into points. If your travel funds expire on any other date, you will not be able to covert those funds… but there is a trick!
Currently, all travel funds that expired or set to expire between March 1, 2020 and Sept. 7, 2020 will expire on Sept. 7, 2022 — a full two year extension. Additionally, all travel funds created between these same dates will also be extended for the additional two year period. This means newly created travel funds will be extended as well.
For those that have a travel fund set to expires post Sept. 7, 2020 and you want to extend the life of the fund or convert into points, there is a loophole to make that happen.
Since the terms state that “if the travel fund is created between the two dates”, all you have to do is take your current travel fund, use it to book a flight and then cancel it 25 hours later. Just find a flight that costs close to the exact same amount so you are not spending any extra money. Canceling that ticket will create a new travel fund for you with a new reservation number. Since you are canceling the ticket before Sept. 7th, those funds will automatically expire Sept. 7, 2022, even though the funds were originally set to expire prior to that date. I personally did this myself and it worked with no problem.
How to convert your travel funds
Sign into your Southwest account and go into ‘My Account‘. At the top of the page you’ll see ‘My Travel Funds’ with the option to view your funds.
You’ll then see all of your funds, the expiration date and the ones that you can convert. All travel funds created on or after Dec. 3, 2019 will automatically display. For all funds created before this date, you’ll have to manually use the Travel Fund Lookup. For those funds, use the loophole to extend the life of the funds.
Should I convert my Southwest travel funds into points?
It truly depends, but my overall take on the situation is YES.
Although travel funds are extended for two years, you must fly by this date, not simply book by this date. And who knows what the travel world will look like over the next two years. Your points, on the other hand, do not expire.
Also, I prefer Southwest points over travel funds any day. While you are never charged a change or cancelation fee with Southwest, if you go to cancel a flight booked on points, your points go straight back into your account — as if the flight was never booked. If you need to cancel a flight booked with a travel fund and you need to cancel, the entire amount paid for the flight will go back into a new travel fund tied to the original expiration date. And any additional amount paid for the flight on your credit card will also inherit the same expiration date.
Travel funds are also not transferrable, thus cannot be used by someone else. Points, on the other hand, can be used for anyone and have more flexibility.
The one downside of using points is that you will not earn points for your flight when you travel. If you use a travel fund you’d earn points in the same way as if you paid for the flight on your credit card. So there is an opportunity cost there.
Fortunately though, you have until Dec. 15, 2020 to make this decision, so there is no reason to convert your funds just yet if you are not 100% sure.
Will you be converting your funds to points, or keeping them as is? My funds will most definitely be converted to points.