How to Use Southwest Points for International Travel
After my interview on Million Mile Secrets went live, I started getting a flood of emails about a lot of things, but the most popular question was:
How to use Southwest Points for International Travel
Most people know that Southwest is an amazing domestic (US) airline that allows you to rack up points very quickly. The only downfall is that they do not fly internationally (with the exception of a few new locations such as Mexico, Jamaica, and Aruba).
The good news is: there is a way to use all those Southwest points to fly internationally
The Catch? You need a Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Reward Credit Card has partnered with a third party that allows you to use Southwest points for a variety of things such as gift cards and international flights.
If you already have a credit card, skip to the next section. If you do not, please contact me. I have a referral number that will you get 50,000 Southwest points after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months. You’ll have to apply over the phone, which I know is kind of a bummer, but hey – 50,000 points! Full disclosure, I do get 5,000 points for the referral.
How to get to the magical land of international flights
You will then be taken to something called “Awards HQ” where you can redeem your points for lots of different things. If you are looking for the international travel, click on “Other Travel” and then choose “International Travel”
Triple Check Your Booking
Be very careful when you book. Once your flight is booked, NO changes can be made at all. Essentially, your Southwest points have no actual value outside of Southwest, so once the booking is confirmed, you’re stuck. You cannot change the flight at all. If you cancel, you will forfeit ALL the points spent. Book wisely!
Save your confirmation!
I shouldn’t have to say this, but seriously, keep ALL emails you get about your booking. You are booking with different airlines, NOT with Southwest, so Southwest customer service cannot help you with anything related to these bookings. Honestly, the email I got almost seemed fake. Read the instructions carefully and know who to call for any problems. The last thing you want is to try to call Southwest customer service the day before your trip and panic when they say they have no idea what you are talking about.
Is it worth it?
I wish I had a clear-cut formula for you for what your Southwest Points will be worth on other airlines, but there isn’t one. All I can really tell you is what I got when I used my points to get to London.
I chose to fly out of a popular airport to keep costs down. I searched flights from New York to London. Most of the one-way flights cost at least 80,000 Southwest points. Further searches to other countries/cities showed costs of around 100,000+. However, there are occasional steals, which I found. I was able to book a one-way flight from New York to London for about 38,000 points. I purchased my return flight (to New York) and then used Southwest to get from New York back to my hometown (St. Louis). Based on the cost of flights to London around that time, I estimate I saved about $600 dollars.
6,000 Southwest points usually gets about $100 worth of travel on Southwest.com, so my booking ended up being about the same ($600 on Southwest would be approximately 36,000 points). However, if I had only been able to find those flights charging 100,000 or more, it really wouldn’t have made much sense to use all those Southwest points.
It made sense for me because I fly Southwest more than any other airline, so I have a lot of points on Southwest and not too many on any international airlines. However, you might find in your case it makes more sense to just deal with international airlines directly using their points/miles system.
Have you ever used Southwest points to book an international flight?
I’d love to hear about your experience. Let me know if you found a great deal!