You all know that beginning next year (Jan 1st, 2018) FlexPoints (yes, points from FlexPerk cards are called FlexPoints) will be worth 1.5 cpp flat. Some say it is a welcome change but I, like many FP regulars, think it is a huge nerf to the program. I don’t need 1.5 cpp from FP when I can get that exact value from far easier to obtain UR points. Likewise TYP, which is rather easy to obtain as well, also gives a guaranteed 1.3 cpp (soon to be 1.25). In my personal opinion anyone who redeemed FP for anything less than 1.5 cpp or so should be doing a better job of hording UR, TYP, and MR points. FP was and still is a backup program that you should only use when you can get cpp close to 2.0 cpp.
Anyway, now that we know a nerf is imminent some of us would like to flush through our current FP hoard, preferably at 2.0 cpp. In just a bit I’ll describe a way to convert your FP hoard into SW travel funds. I’m sure you could do this with some other airlines but I prefer SW because (a) I fly them (b) SW does not have cancellation fees and (c) I’ve the SW companion pass.
1. Find a couple of 2.0 cpp SW flights
The very first thing you want to do is find not one but couple of SW flights that would yield you close to 2.0 cpp. For example if you’re trying to burn through 20k FP then you should note down couple of flights that cost near $400, say 999. For your convenience save some of the basic info like flight number, in/out airport, time of departure/arrival, and most importantly the flight cost.
Now before moving on to the next section I’ll briefly address why you should note down couple of flights. In the next step you’ll be booking your flight through FlexPerks Travel Center and sometimes their system
- is all together unable to see some flights that you can book online. This is regardless of fare class (eg. anytime).
- has cheaper fare than that is available online. In this case booking a cheaper flight is counterproductive because you want to maximize your FP value.
- While FP agents can book you “wanna get away” fares, doing so might be a bit of an hassle on their part. As such when you’re finding your ideal fare, try to stick with “anytime” or “business select” fare.
2. Call and Book with FlexPerks Rewards Center
Once you’ve noted down some flight info it is time to call the rewards center at 888-229-8864 but do be aware of their hours:
- M-F: 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. (CT)
- S & S: 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. (CT)
Do note that the USB website says 5:30 p.m for S & S for in reality they close an hour sooner at 4:30 p.m.
Also an important thing to note is that USB charges $25 in phone booking fee but it is waived for SW booking as SW flights can’t be booked through FP portal. This is a policy but beware of the fact that some agents will still try to push a phone booking fee.
3. Obtain Southwest Confirmation Number
Once you’ve booked the flight you can get your SW confirmation # through the booking agent or you can get it from the PDF that arrives in your email. In your PDF the confirmation number can be found as “AIRLINE RESERVATION CODE [your SW confirmation number will be here] (WN)”.
4. Cancel the Flight but Hold Funds
Within an hour or so your flight will be searchable in SW website. You’ll need to go to the following webpage and enter first name, last name, and confirmation number
Please note that you cannot change this flight online. An attempt to do so will yield the following error:
Your reservation contains modifications that prevent you from changing it online. Please contact a Southwest Airlines Customer Representative for assistance at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792)
But you can cancel the flight all together and that is exactly what you want to do. Please remember to choose “hold [funds] for future use“.
Once the cancellation is done you’ll be prompted with a text that includes the following message. We’ll go over this later in the “warning” section.
The following flight reservation has been cancelled and your Travel Funds have been held for future use by the original passenger(s) listed in the reservation. All travel involving Travel Funds from this ticket must be completed by the expiration date listed below. If utilizing Travel Funds with different expiration dates, the new reservation must be completed by the earliest expiration date applicable to any Travel Funds applied.
5. Book Your Actual Flight
You won’t get any value out of this trick until you actually book your flight and make the trip. Do note that you can you can use travel funds and SW GCs towards purchase of a same ticket.
6. Extra: Buy a $25 SW GC
Remember the fake booking you made on #2? On that travel day (not any other day) you may want to buy a $25 SW GC. Afterward you want to call USB and ask for $25 statement claiming you (a) had baggage fee and/or (b) bought in flight food and drinks.
In order to get “$25 airline allowance” you need to call 877.978.7446 within 90 days of qualified purchase and you’ll recieve the credit within 4-6 weeks later. Please note that if you close your account before the credit posts then you may not receive it at all.
You can read complete T&C associated with $25 airline allowance by clicking here.
Note that it might work out better for your to book your fake travel iteration on the same day as your real travel iteration. This may serve as a reminder for you to buy a GC or who knows you just might find legit reason to consume the $25 airline allowance.
7. Extra: Participate on FP Photo Contest
Every month USB runs a photo content that is exclusive to those who’ve redeemed 20k or more FP in last 18 months. You get 500 FP for participation but can win as high as 20k FP.
Now that I’ve given you the how-to, it is time for the mandatory “but here is the catch” section. It is important to know that there are some negatives to this trick which may deem this trick altogether useless for you.
- Southwest funds can only be used by whomsoever the ticket was originally booked for. In other words, whoever you book the fake iteration for must use the travel funds.
- Southwest funds expire exactly a year from the day they are issued so you need to take your flight before the fund expires. You can request to reissue these funds as LUV Vouchers. This will cost you $100 (can be deduced from SW funds you are trying to reissue) and the new voucher will have to be used within 6 months of issue date but it can be used by anyone. You can read more about this on a savemetrics post.
- Last but not least “If utilizing Travel Funds with different expiration dates, the new reservation must be completed by the earliest expiration date applicable to any Travel Funds applied.” This can be a far more dangerous than it looks. For example, you’ve a travel fund of $25 that expires in Dec 31st. On Dec 1st you make a paid booking of $x but choose to use your $25 travel fund. Now for some reason you choose to cancel this booking and save $x+$25 travel fund for future BUT this entire fund of $x+$25 will expire by Dec 31st. So if you’ve a soon expiring travel fund and you’re unsure about your travel plan then it might be better to simply let the travel fund expire.