A few weeks back Southwest announced that you are now able to convert Southwest travel funds into Southwest Rapid Reward points. This is an extremely customer-friendly policy and means that you no longer need to worry about funds tied to an expiration date. They are also being very generous with their conversion rate and you can actually come out ahead.
The one stipulation about this conversion policy is that only travel funds that expire on Sept. 7, 2022 can be converted. Based on COVID-19, a few months ago, Southwest made two statements regarding extending travel funds:
- Customers’ funds that have expired or will expire between March 1, 2020 and September 7, 2020, will now expire September 7, 2022.
- Any travel funds created because you cancel a flight between March 1 – September 7, 2020, will expire September 7, 2022.
This means that any travel fund that expires or is created between March 1, 2020 and Sept. 7, 2020 will be extended through Sept. 7, 2022 and those are the funds that can be converted — not others outside of that time frame. Since today is Sept. 6th, you only have until today to take advantage of this loophole (and then cancel your ticket 25 hours later).
Read: Newly travel funds are also extended, not just those expiring.
Fortunately though, there is a loophole
If you have a travel fund that was created prior to March 1, 2020 or one that expires post Sept. 7, 2020, chances are you’ll want those ones extended too. And you can do just that with this loophole I am about to explain below.
Step 1: Book a new flight using those travel funds. Let’s say your funds are for $50, find a flight as close to $50 as possible. You are not actually going to fly, so it doesn’t matter the route or date. Tip: If the flight is less than $50, the remainder will stay as a credit. If the flight is more than $50, the excess amount will be converted to a travel fund as well.
Step 2: After 25 hours or more from booking the mock flight, cancel the flight. Your new travel fund will then be tied to the new confirmation number. Tip: Cancel your flight right away so you do not forget. You also need to cancel by Sept. 7 so it falls within the correct ‘cancelation’ policy.
Step 3: Your new travel fund will appear in your ‘My Travel Funds‘ portal in your Southwest account. The Travel Fund number, however, will now be tied to the new confirmation number (even though the flight was canceled). Tip: The Travel Fund will appear almost immediately and you’ll notice that the expiration date did not update to Sept. 7, 2022. The date WILL change within just a few days, so keep on checking back. The system just takes some time.
Now, you will have another two years to use your travel funds — once it updates in the system — or you can convert the funds to Southwest Rapid Reward points.
Should you convert your points?
With this policy, you are ultimately converting your travel funds at 1.28 cents per point. This is an incredible value since you can then typically book a Southwest points at 1.4 cents per point — meaning you are getting a higher value.
For example, in my travel fund account, I have a balance of $48.98. That balance can be converted to 3,820 points. When I took a look at sample flights, I found a a $49 flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas that costs just 2,964, plus $5.60 in taxes. Ultimately, this means you are ‘buying’ the difference of 856 points for $5.60 — a cost of .65 cents per point. This is an unbelievable value where you are truly coming out significantly ahead. There are also some examples where you will do even better.
As mentioned above, there are also many advantages of having Southwest Rapid Reward points instead of Southwest Travel Funds. For starters, points never expire, where travel funds do. Additionally, you can use your Southwest points on another passenger, unlike travel funds which are not transferrable.
The only disadvantage is that you will not earn points when you redeem points. Travel Funds, on the other hand are treated like cash, which makes you eligible to earn points and qualify for any promotion at the time. To me, this still does not make it worth it.
I personally will be transferring all of my travel funds to points — there is no reason not to.