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Points Runs – Are They Worth It?

You may or may not have heard the term “points run,” which refers to a trip that’s main purpose is to earn points. Now, considering this practice involves spending money, one might argue that it’s not exactly budget friendly or wise, but I believe that sometimes, they can be worth it.

The year 2013 was my year of mastering the airline points game, specifically Southwest Rapid Rewards points. I have to admit, I became obsessed with earning points, and not all of my tactics turned out to be worth it, but Points Runs did help me. In fact, I recently earned my Southwest Companion Pass. (I dedicated an entire post to explaining what that is and how YOU can earn one.)

Let’s break down a couple of my points runs and I’ll tell you why they were worth it.

Puerto Rico – Triple Points

Seven Seas in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Seven Seas in Fajardo, Puerto Rico

Normally, I wouldn’t even consider going to Puerto Rico for less than 4 days because it takes at least 6 or 7 hours to get there from St. Louis. However, when I saw that Southwest was running a promotion for triple points I decided to head out for a weekend.

Important notes:
1. Pedro’s family lives in Puerto Rico, so I had free transportation, free accommodation, and most of my meals covered.
2. It was November and I was still more than 20,000 points away from the Southwest Companion pass (all points have to be earned by December 31st).

I got super intense with my strategy and purchased a Wanna Get Away fare for my flight down and a Business Fare for the way back. Normally, a Wanna Get Away fare earns 6 points per dollar and Business earns 12 points per dollar. Thanks to the triple points promotion, it jumped to 18 and 36 points per dollar, respectively.

You get even more points if you book on your Southwest Credit Card. (More on why I love that card here).

I spent a stupid amount of money on my flights

$771.40, to be exact.

Before you lose your minds, let me tell you how many points I earned!

Total Points Earned: 23,207

That’s a shit ton of points guys. A cheap one-way flight on Southwest could cost me as little as 10,000 points. A one-way flight to Puerto Rico is usually around 14,000, meaning that for $770 I essentially got TWO roundtrip flights to Puerto Rico, plus a lot of points towards my Companion Pass and A-List Status. Totally worth it.

My one mistake: Not reading the fine print

The one bummer about this trip is that I was sure it would push me past the 110,000 point mark needed to earn the Companion Pass. However, it turns out that bonus points do NOT count towards the Companion Pass, which is clearly stated on Southwest’s site. So, I did get over 23,000 points off one roundtrip flight, but only about 7,790 counted towards my Companion Pass.

Day Trip to Chicago

My day trip to Chicago allowed me to see a massive Christmas Tree Exhibit at the Science Museum

My day trip to Chicago allowed me to see a massive Christmas Tree Exhibit at the Science Museum

St. Louis is only a 1-hour flight from Chicago, so a day trip isn’t too ridiculous, but paying $185 to go in the dead of winter may seem a bit crazy. But the POINTS guys, THE POINTS

This points run was all about the A-List Status. I had already earned my Companion Pass and actually used to fly Pedro along with me FOR FREE. All my points dreams for the year 2013 had almost come true, all I needed was a mere 1,059 points more to earn my A-List status for all of 2014.

So why is A-List status important?

There are some convenience perks to being an A-List member, such as guaranteed A 1-15 seating position, fast-lane at security, and a dedicated customer service line, but the real reason A-List in awesome is because it comes with a 25% earning bonus.


Here’s what the regular earning system looks like for regular people who aren’t Awesome A-Listers:

Wanna Get Away – 6 points/dollar
Anytime – 10 points/dollar
Business Select – 12 points/dollar.

Yeah, that’s pretty cool, but what about for the Amazing A-Listers?

Wanna Get Away – 7.5 points/dollar
Anytime – 12.5 points/dollar
Business Select – 15 points/dollar

My day trip to Chicago will allow me to earn points even faster, meaning it’s easier for me to earn points for flights AND towards the Companion Pass for the following year. So once again, this points run was totally worth it.

So how about you, do you think points runs are worth it? If you have some tips or epic success stories, I want to hear them!

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