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How to Use Southwest Travel Funds
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Southwest is one of the most popular airlines to fly in the U.S., partially because it offers a generous cancellation and flight change policy. However, depending upon the ticket you buy, you may receive travel funds instead of a cash refund in the event your flight plans change.
Here's how to use Southwest travel funds.
How do you get Southwest travel funds?
Thanks to its no-fee change/cancellation policy, Southwest provides a full refund or issues travel funds to your account. To benefit from this generous policy, you must cancel your flight at least 10 minutes before departure.
Here’s how to determine what kind of refund you’ll get:
You get a full refund to your original payment method when you book Anytime or Business Select tickets.
You get travel funds when you book Wanna Get Away or Wanna Get Away Plus tickets. If you use Rapid Rewards points, they will be returned to your Southwest account. Any refunded taxes will go to your travel funds.
Business Select and Anytime fares offer the most flexibility, but they also cost more than Wanna Get Away fares. Wanna Get Away fares, on the other hand, offer the lowest prices. But if you need to cancel or choose to rebook to a lower-priced flight , your only choice is to receive travel funds — cash refunds aren't on the table.
» Learn more: Southwest Rapid Rewards program: the complete guide
Where can you see your travel funds balance?
When you log in to your Rapid Rewards loyalty account, your travel funds appear at the top of the "My Account" screen.
This shows the total available travel funds that you have, but it does not provide the details. You need to click on "View Details" to see the balance of the individual travel fund reservations. Here, you find the expiration date and balance for each reservation. As of July 28, 2022, any unexpired funds and any funds created from there on out will no longer expire. Southwest is updating their system, so for the time being, an expiration date of Dec. 31, 2040, will be displayed in the expiration field. Eventually, that field will go away altogether.
If you don't have a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards account, booked a flight that didn't have your loyalty number attached to it or have travel funds from a special purchase ticket, then you'll need to track them manually. Signing up for a Rapid Rewards account is free to do.
Unfortunately, you cannot manually add travel funds to your profile. To track your travel funds manually, visit the " Check Travel Funds " page on Southwest's website. You'll need to provide the passenger's first and last name plus the confirmation number from the reservation. On this page, you can also check the balance of Southwest LUV vouchers and gift cards.
» Learn more: Don't just redeem miles — redeem them wisely. Here's how
What can I do if my travel funds have expired?
While unexpired funds and newly created funds no longer have an expiration date as of July 28, 2022, what if you have travel funds that expired just before this change in policy? According to the Southwest Community message boards, your one hope is to call customer service within six months of the expiration and ask them to reinstate your travel funds as a LUV voucher. The LUV voucher will be good for another six months from the date of your call. Southwest charges $100 for this one-time extension and it comes out of your travel funds.
» Learn more: Southwest Airlines sweet spots
What can Southwest travel funds be used for?
Travel funds from Southwest can be used to book any available cash flight or to pay for the taxes and fees on award flights. They are treated like cash and can be used to pay for some or all of the amount owed. If you don't use all of the travel funds for the reservation, any remaining balance remains for future use.
» Learn more: Your guide to booking award flights on Southwest
Can I use Southwest travel fund for someone else?
Your travel funds can be transferred to someone else with a Rapid Rewards account if you bought a a Business Select , Anytime or Wanna Get Away Plus fare. That person would have to book their own flight using the travel fund, though. You won't be able to use your travel fund to book for someone else. Wanna Get Away fares are not eligible to transferred, so they can only be used by the ticketed passenger.
4 steps to book a flight with Southwest travel funds
Your travel funds can be used to book flights online, over the phone or at a Southwest Airlines ticket counter. For this illustration, we'll focus on booking a reservation online.
1. Have your original ticket confirmation number handy
Before booking a reservation, print out or write down the travel funds reservation number(s) that you'd like to use. Southwest's website does not allow you to choose from a list during booking.
2. Browse and select your flights
During the booking process, you'll select your travel dates, cities and times as normal.
3. Apply your travel funds
When you arrive at the "Passenger & Payment Info" page, click to expand the "Apply Travel Funds, LUV Vouchers and gift cards" section. Here is where you'll enter your travel funds' confirmation number and your first and last name before clicking "Apply funds." Then, continue the booking process as normal and pay any remaining balance owed with your preferred form of payment, such as the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card .
Again, you may use your travel funds for cash fares or to pay the taxes and fees on award tickets.
Remember, travel funds from other passengers may not be applied to your ticket.
4. Get confirmation
Now that you've filled out all of the necessary information and remitted payment with your travel fund, you should see a confirmation email pop up in your inbox.
» Learn more: Is a Southwest credit card worth it?
Using Southwest travel funds
Southwest travel funds are typically created when you cancel or change a Wanna Get Away reservation. They are automatically added to your account when you attach your Rapid Rewards number to the reservation before it is canceled. These funds can be used to book cash or award travel, and any unused amount from your new reservation can be used on a future flight.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023 , including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
on Chase's website
1x-3x Earn 3X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.
75,000 Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
1x-5x Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
60,000 Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
1x-2x Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases. Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare. Earn 2X points on internet, cable, and phone services, and select streaming. Earn 1X points on all other purchases.
Southwest Travel Funds (Expiration, How to use, Etc.) 
Sometimes you need to cancel a flight or you just flat out miss a flight with Southwest. In those instances, all hope is not lost and all of your value is not lost either. That is because you will likely be issued Southwest travel funds (depending on the type of ticket that you purchased).
In this comprehensive article, I will show you everything you need to know about Southwest travel funds. I’ll discuss how you get them, how to use them, and important details like when they expire. I will also touch on gift cards and LUV vouchers for added clarification.
Table of Contents
What are Southwest travel funds?
Southwest travel funds are special funds that usually get issued when you are given a refunded credit for your Southwest flight. Southwest travel funds are different from gift card balances and Southwest LUV vouchers and I’ll discuss those below for added clarification.
Tip: Use the free app WalletFlo to help you travel the world for free by finding the best travel credit cards and promotions!
Best Southwest credit cards
Southwest airlines rapid rewards premier card.
The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Card comes with the following benefits:
- No foreign transaction fees
- 6,000 anniversary points ( learn more )
- Earn 1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 in purchases, up to 15,000 Tier-Qualifying Points each calendar year
- $99 Annual fee
Southwest Airlines Priority Card
The Southwest Airlines Priority Card comes with all of the benefits offered below:
- 2X Rapid Rewards on Southwest purchases
- 2X Rapid Rewards on hotel and car rental partner purchases.
- 1X Rapid Rewards on all other purchases
- $75 Southwest annual travel credit ( learn more )
- 7,500 anniversary points each year
- Four Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
- 20% back on in-flight drinks, WiFi, messaging, and movies
- Earn tier qualifying points towards A-list Status
- $149 annual fee applied to your first billing statement
How to get Southwest travel funds
Typically, you will get Southwest travel funds whenever you cancel a flight or you fail to show up for a flight (a “no show”).
One of the most common ways to get Southwest travel funds is to receive a credit for your canceled flight.
Southwest Airlines has one of the most generous cancellation policies out of any major airline in the US. They allow you to change your flights with no additional fee (up to 1 hour prior to departure) and allow you to cancel your flight up to 10 minutes prior to the departure time.
Anytime fare or a Business Select fare
If you purchased an Anytime fare or a Business Select fare then you can cancel up to 10 minutes prior to the departure time and receive a full refund. However, if you fail to cancel your flight you will be issued Southwest travel funds in place of that refund.
If you purchased a Wanna-Get-Away fare you are not allowed to receive a full cash refund. Instead, you will receive Southwest travel funds whenever you cancel your ticket at least 10 minutes prior to departure. But keep in mind that if you fail to show up for your flight and don’t cancel your ticket at least 10 minutes prior to departure, you will not be issued any type of credit at anytime and you will lose all of your travel funds.
If you had an award reservation then your Rapid Rewards will be deposited back into your account. However, any taxes and fees associated with your reward travel reservation will be held for future use in the form of reusable travel funds under the name of the traveler(s).
Also keep in mind that if you purchase Southwest EarlyBird, that is a nonrefundable purchase and you will not receive travel funds for that. To find out more about Southwest EarlyBird click here .
2020 Coronavirus travel funds update
If you purchased a nonrefundable fare (such as a Wanna-Get-Away fare) for travel between March 1 and September 7, 2020 and you cancel your flight “in accordance with Southwest’s No Show Policy,” you will receive travel funds good through September 7, 2022.
However, once you use those travel funds for a purchase they will then expire one year from the date of purchase.
So for example if you redeemed travel funds on July 1, 2021 then those travel funds would expire July 1, 2022.
Travel funds with an expiration date of September 7, 2022, can be converted into Rapid Rewards points at the same rate you would be able to purchase a ticket with points today.
You must request to convert your travel fund by December 15, 2020.
Southwest gift cards
Southwest gift cards can be purchased from the Southwest website at anytime or you can purchase them via phone by calling Southwest Airlines at 1-800-IFLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).
You can choose any amount between $10 dollars and $10,000 dollars so the range is quite extreme. (Orders exceeding $1,000 can be made by printing the Southwest gift card order form and following the directions provided.)
You can also choose to have these gift cards delivered via email, or you can have them sent via mail. But note that if you were getting them sent via the mail, you will have to pay the shipping fees. If you prefer, you can also expedite the shipping of these gift cards.
A Southwest gift card is NOT valid for the purchase of:
- Southwest Airlines Vacation Packages
- Rental cars
- Southwest Airlines Merchandise
- EarlyBird Check-In
- Additional Southwest gift cards
- In-flight purchases
Related: How much are Southwest points worth?
Southwest LUV Vouchers
Southwest LUV Vouchers are the cousin of travel funds and you can even convert travel funds into LUV Vouchers (read more on that below).
LUV Vouchers are valid as a form of payment toward future airfare only on Southwest Airlines through Southwest.com , toll-free Reservations 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792), or at any Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter.
Southwest LUV Vouchers are not redeemable as:
- Payment toward Government-imposed segment fees
- Excise taxes
- Passenger Facility Charges
- September 11th Security Fees or
- Payment toward miscellaneous charges
- Southwest Airlines Group tickets
- Southwest Airlines Vacations packages
- or travel either wholly or in part on other air carriers.
When do Southwest travel funds expire?
Southwest travel funds will expire one year from the purchase date (booking date) of the original flight. This is a huge thing to know because some people assume that the expiration date is one year from the date of travel, which is not the case.
Southwest Airlines does not offer free extensions for the expiration date for travel funds. However, you still might be able to get them to extend the expiration date of your travel funds. This will likely come at a cost of though.
Travel funds expire date extension
Many people extend the expiration date for their travel funds after paying a $100 reinstatement fee. The travel funds are then converted into LUV vouchers when the reinstatement takes place.
You may only have 6 months to request the reinstatement and you must make your request after your travel funds expire. Also, the LUV voucher may only be valid for 6 months from issue so inquire about its expiration date.
Sometimes Southwest has reduced the value of the travel funds when they are reinstated so be on the lookout for that.
The good thing about getting a LUV voucher is that you should be able to use that for anybody. So in some instances, it could be very well worth it to pay $100 so that you can apply those funds to a different traveler.
If your funds have already expired, then I highly suggest that you call and inquire about all of the above possibilities. If the phone representative is not willing to budge, then I suggest that you try calling back later and speaking with another representative.
Note that it is possible that the policies regarding reinstated travel funds are subject to change at anytime so always be prepared for alternative measures!
What about gift cards and vouchers?
Unlike Southwest travel funds, the gift cards do not expire.
However, Southwest LUV Vouchers must be redeemed and all travel completed by the expiration date indicated. If applied in conjunction with any other accepted form(s) of payment, the earliest expiration date of all payments applies.
Southwest will often grant extensions for LUV vouchers but will usually refuse an extension if that LUV voucher was received as a result of getting an extension from your travel funds expiration date. However, if you were given a LUV voucher because of some sort of customer service issue, then you will likely be granted at least one extension for the expiration date.
How to check/view your Southwest travel funds
If you would like to check the status of your Southwest travel funds then simply log-in to your Southwest account and then click on “My Account.” You will then see “My travel funds” at the top and you’ll just need to click on “View Travel Funds.”
You can also do so by clicking here. You will need to have your confirmation number and the passengers first and last name. On that website, you can also check the balance of your Southwest gift card and vouchers.
If you do not have your flight details, you might run into some resistance because Southwest does state that you need this information to look up your travel funds:
Customers calling Southwest to request a refund or to research travel funds for a specific ticket must provide their confirmation number, ticket number or flight information (date, origin and destination).
How to use and apply Southwest travel funds
It is very simple to use your Southwest travel funds.
When you are getting ready to complete the booking of your flight, you should see a button on the checkout screen under the Payment method window for Travel Funds. You will want to click that and then enter in the confirmation number and passenger name from the reservation of the canceled or unused flight.
Keep in mind that the passenger name must match the name of the traveler on the new flight perfectly. You cannot use Southwest travel funds for someone else. You also cannot transfer your travel funds to someone else.
As Southwest states:
Travel Funds from an unused or cancelled reservation may only be applied toward the purchase of future travel for the individual named on the ticket.
But keep in mind the possible exception where you convert your travel funds into LUV vouchers. That route comes with a cost and some risk, but if it works out it can be a way to get around the transferability rule.
Southwest travel funds FAQ
If you do not know your confirmation number, then try to search your inbox for Southwest emails. You should have been given an email at the time of booking containing your confirmation number. The subject line will usually state “Your reservation is confirmed.” You might also be able to locate the confirmation number by logging into your Southwest account and clicking on your past activity which you find under “My Trips.” If all else fails then consider calling the following phone number: 1-800-435-9792 (1-800 I FLY SWA).
You should note that you can only use these funds for airfare or for Southwest vacation packages. They cannot be applied for other purchases like in-flight purchases, Southwest Earlybird, and other random airline incidentals.
A lot of people don’t have use for their travel funds and they want to know if they can convert the travel funds into cash money. The answer to this question is no. If Southwest allowed customers to do that, it would honestly defeat the entire purpose of issuing travel credits in the first place so it is understandable that they do not allow this.
It is possible that when you go to apply your Southwest travel funds that they will not work. If that is the case, then I suggest calling up Southwest right away and explaining to them that you believe that you have travel funds that should be applied and that they are not working during the checkout process.
If you would like to check the status of your Southwest travel funds then simply log-in to your Southwest account and then click on “My Account.” You will then see “My travel funds” at the top and you’ll just need to click on “View Travel Funds.”
When you are getting ready to complete the booking of your flight, you should see a button on the checkout screen under the Payment method window for Travel Funds. Click that and then enter in the confirmation number and passenger name from the reservation of the canceled or unused flight.
Southwest is one of the most generous airlines when it comes to changing flights and canceling your flights. Receiving Southwest travel funds for your cancellations and no show instances can be a great way to not miss out on a lot value. Just make sure that you stay on top of tracking the expiration date for your funds so that you properly use them in time.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo . He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.
Hi, I tried to get my travel funds reinstated within the 6months period(by deducting 100), but they were not ready to do it, I have an other travel funds which is about to expire, I booked something and cancelled due to the corona virus scare, though I explained my situation about it, they were not ready to do it.I have been traveling via southwest from past 10 years, even though they were not ready to do it.They would have updated the funds on the app long back.Its so confusing with so many promotional emails from southwest.
So just to make sure, did you make your request after your travel funds expired or before?
I have 2 travel funds, one of them got expired in dec2019, and the other one is expiring on march 22nd 2020.So I requested for both.
The southwest site says you CAN use travel funds for southwest vacations. https://www.southwestvacations.com/deals/benefits-of-booking-southwest-vacations?clk=GSUBNAV-VAC-WHYBK&intcmp=GSUBNAV-VAC-WHYBK
Thanks for that. I’ve updated the article to clarify.
Question that may be very pertinent to this. I had small amount of travel funds to use ($20) which were expiring on 8/15/20. I just applied those to a new flight I just purchased last month (say 2/15/20). With the COVID-19 situation prices continue to drop and I noticed the new flight now is $34 less so I changed to get that $34 credit.
However, now when I look at my Travel funds, I do see the $34, but the expiry date is 8/15/20 (not 2/14/21 which is what I was expecting). It appears since I used that old Travel fund of $20, it is now applying that original expiry date to my new Travel funds. Is this how it should work? I could not find anything on this but it is important to know. It may not be worth to use those small travel fund amounts if they are expiring soon since any future larger credit you may get won’t have a long life.
I would be surprised that SWA would do this (the ticket I bought on 2/15 was $200 – so saying that when I applied that $20 travel fund to it, making that original ticket date be the new expiration date seems silly).
I have the same issue. On 2/20/2020 I booked a flight for this coming weekend using a credit card and a small travel fund balance that was set to expire on 7/16/2020. I’ve now cancelled that flight for obvious reasons, but the website shows the full amount (not the just the amount on the original travel fund) expires on 7/16/2020. Is this a glitch, or by design? If it’s supposed to work like that, then like the other poster wrote, be careful if you book a flight using a combination of travel funds and credit card…if you cancel that flight, you won’t get a full year credit on the amount you paid by credit card…
I recently (March 13,2020) had to make a change in travel. I did not have a computer access and call wait times were in excess of 90 minutes. I COULD NOT use my travel funds on the SOUTHWEST Android app. That is such a huge limitation. I could not load a desktop site on my phone.
Travelers should be aware of the limitation in using Travel Funds is ONLY AVAILABLE via the FULL SOUTHWEST.COM desktop site. Not their mobile app.
Southwest “should” fix this arbitrary limitation.
Excellent information! I canceled my trip last week due to the virus. I had purchased two tickets. When I book my next flight, I will obviously use the travel funds for my ticket. Will I be able to use those travel funds for the other person’s ticket…….she had a ticket on the canceled flight? I tried to call the airline for this question, but the wait time was long.
Travel funds are credited back to the passenger name on the original ticket. No one may use that credit except the original passenger. So if you bought three tickets for three different passengers, then each passenger will have a separate credit listed under their Specific name And under that confirmation code.
If you have travel funds that expire June 1, 2020 to you have to actually fly by June 1, 2020 or just book your next trip by then?
I was wondering the same thing. Have you found out the answer to this yet?
I am wondering that same thing. If my travel funds expire in April 2021, can I use them for a flight in June 2021?
I need to use my “credit” by March 13, 2021 from a cancelled flight. Can i book a ticket for later in the year or do I actually have to fly by March 13?
I do not understand why if I pay for tickets for other family members and they can’t be used, why I can not get the voucher back in my account? It really just doesn’t seem fair!
I purchased tickets for travel for my wife and me to fly to Hawaii last October. Due to personal reasons we could not go at that time. I promised my wife I would take her this past spring but due to the Covid outbreak you are not allowed to travel to Hawaii without quarantining for 2 weeks. My funds expire in October 2020 so basically I will lose my money unless I use the funds for other travel which I do not want to do until the Covid risk lessens. We are elderly and have other health problems so SWA is basically telling us to travel somewhere we don’t need or want to go and in the process risk our lives. What an airline!! By the way I have taken over 700 flights on SWA over the years and have been a loyal customer. As a result I will fly SWA as little as possible in the future. This will be easier now as all the other major airlines have done away with their change fees as well.
does using travel funds for a southwest flight count as a qualifying revenue flight. there are promos that require a revenue flight
I canceled over 10 upcoming flights on Southwest in mid-March just as the pandemic travel restrictions were starting in CA (I also canceled many more on 3 other airlines — I fly a couple times a week). I then went to transfer the credits to points and couldn’t find the cancelation notice (even though I wrote down when I canceled). I was told that the funds were “stuck” and therefore even though they had documentation of cancelation, I had to call corporate to have them establish the credit. I called corporate but after holding for 30 minutes, I didn’t have time to complete the transfer (but the person assured me the cancelation was in the record and would be issued when I called back). When I called back I was placed on hold for about 30 minutes and they told me that they didn’t see that I had canceled and would only issue credit for no-show (due to COVID) but the funds had to be used in a couple months (before my job will allow me to travel). Is there anything you advise?
Thank you for this great information. My question is about using SW travel funds by the expiration date, does “using” mean booking travel or travel by that date?
We have funds that expire in Sept. 2021. I plan to book flights next week for travel in Dec. 2021.
I too have the very same question…Seems it has been asked a lot on here and no one gets an answer. I sure hope to get an answer to this soon too.
So here’s the rub on travel funds, they expire 1 year after the booking date, not the travel date. But when you want to redeem them, the redemption date is the travel date, not the booking date. This is just pure evil!
Whoa! I am facing the similar issues that I read in this comment section. Really they have very conveniently kept hidden loopholes that would be experienced only by the customer who has to face such a situation. And very cleverly SW sneaks away gulping our hard earned money by luring you can have travel funds to use for future travel! Even though I pay with my credit card the travel fund could be used by only the passenger in whose name I bought the ticket. Why on earth the passenger who has enjoyed my buying ticket will get free travel funds to use but I can not use it if he/she is not flying and I need to fly for my own business to take care. Well, this time I had to cancel and rebook the tickets 4-5 times and in that rebooking I had to change my travel route that saved me and my husband more that $ 300 dollars for each of us. My husband is suffering with diabetes as well as lung cavity formed due to bacterial infection making him immunocompromised. Due to this corona/omicron fear he does not want to risk his life. Our travel funds are expiring on June 29, 2022. I spent several hours calling SW airline customer service, wait time 72 hours!, also tried calling through Southwest Credit card that I used to buy our tickets and from there trying to get some help with travel funds extension, no human available making me listening FREE MUSIC for infinite time. Why there is no e-mail facility to get in touch with them? No where on the entire site you can use e-mail contact except using the form the site want me to fill in. And unfortunately my issue is not among the reasons the page shows, I can not use e-mail route! Do you have any update about COVID 19 some modification in using travel funds beyond the expiration time limit? I would appreciate some feedback.
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- Managing your money
The Power of Southwest Travel Funds: Don’t Wait for a ‘Better Deal’ When Booking Southwest Flights
Southwest Airlines frequently holds fare sales, which can be a great way to nab a cheap flight, often for less than $100. Some fare sales are tied to major shopping days like Cyber Monday, while others are flash sales.
But waiting to book your flight until a big sale might foil your deal-hunting plans.
By the time the sale has started, that flight you’ve been eyeing might be fully booked. If you wait for a better deal, the price could end up rising—and you could end up getting locked out.
If you fly with Southwest more than once a year, your best strategy is to book your flight now, even if a better deal shows up later. Here’s why.
Some Southwest fares are refundable, but all Southwest fares are reusable
Southwest’s Business Select and Anytime fares are fully refundable to your original form of payment.
Even if you’ve booked a fare in Southwest’s Wanna Get Away class (that’s the airline’s cheapest fare class, essentially the Basic Economy version of flying with Southwest), you can still cancel your flight and potentially avoid losing any money. Wanna Get Away tickets aren’t refundable, but they are reusable. If you cancel your flight, 100% of the cost of your ticket can be applied to future travel for up to 12 months. Here’s how it works:
- If you booked your flight using cash or a gift card: The cost of your ticket is saved for future use.
- If you booked your flight with points: The points are returned to your Rapid Rewards account (the amount you paid in taxes and fees, which points do not cover, is saved as reusable travel funds).
- If you booked a Companion Pass ticket: The amount you paid in taxes and fees are refunded to your original form of payment.
Of course, there are caveats:
- You need to cancel your flight at least 10 minutes prior to its scheduled departure time.
- Your must take your next flight within 12 months of the date on which you purchased your original ticket.
- Reusable tickets must be used by the same passenger on the original reservation (you can’t use the funds to book a ticket for someone else).
- You need to hang on to your original confirmation number (more on that later).
Southwest fares can be changed for no fee
If you’re not certain whether you really want to spend a week with Great Uncle Louie for Christmas, this should help. Southwest is one of the few airlines out there that don’t charge change fees . Book a flight now, and if you decide you’ve spent enough time with family and want to dip out of the holiday festivities early, you have options. Rather than go the refund route, you can call customer service to change your ticket without incurring a fee (you do have to pay the difference in fares, though).
Southwest’s lack of change fees is rare, as most other major airlines charge change fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars. At Delta, change fees for nonrefundable tickets range from $200 to $500, not including the difference in fare price. At American Airlines, same-day change fees for Main Cabin tickets range between $75 and $150, and up to $750 when you change your ticket before the day of travel. At some airlines, changes aren’t even possible, such as for Basic Economy fares.
Some premium travel cards (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve) provide trip cancellation insurance, but coverage typically applies only in situations out of your control, such as illness, severe weather, or being called for jury duty. If you want to change your flight for reasons of convenience, your credit card issuer likely won’t take pity on you.
How to use your Southwest travel funds from cancelled flights
To see how much money you have available from a cancelled flight that you can apply toward a new one, visit Southwest’s Travel Funds page. Enter your name and confirmation number from the original reservation.
To use those funds, book your flight online as you typically would, but instead of using a credit card to pay, click the drop-down option that reads “Southwest gift card, Travel Funds, or Southwest LUV Voucher.” From there, re-enter your name and confirmation number from the original reservation, and the balance is applied to your new ticket.
Any difference in fare price can be charged to your credit card, debit card, or PayPal account.
If you’re a frequent Southwest flyer, you might consider paying for your Southwest flights with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, one of our top airline credit card picks. The card has an annual fee ($149), but it also entitles you to extra goodies like upgraded boardings, a $75 annual travel credit for Southwest purchases, and a 7,500-point anniversary bonus (worth $112.50, according to The Points Guy).
If you fly Southwest and have upcoming travel plans, book your fares now. And if you spot a cheaper fare during a sale, you can always cancel your initial reservation and use the money for a new one on the same flight. You not only ensure you have a seat on the flight you want, but you could also end up with an account credit to put toward another future trip.
Meet your guide
Sally French is a staff writer at Wirecutter covering personal finance and travel. She spent five years at MarketWatch and has also written for the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. She's a homeowner, fitness enthusiast, and traveler. Her most memorable trips have included biking in the Arctic Circle and down Vietnam's coastline.
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How to easily redeem your southwest flight credits.
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To redeem your Southwest flight credits, you can use them to book any available cash flight or to pay for the taxes and fees on award flights. One of the places you can check your flight credits is the Southwest website.
Southwest flight credits are a form of flight credits that you might receive from one of the features we love most about Southwest Airlines. This feature is the ability to cancel a flight and receive the unused funds in the form of flight credit.
Let's explore how to make the best use of your Southwest flight credits and how to check the credits available to you.
What are southwest flight credits, how to use southwest flight credits, how to make the most of your southwest flight credits, southwest flight credits faq.
- Southwest flight credits are funds toward future flights that you can earn when you cancel a Southwest reservation up to 10 minutes before the scheduled flight departure.
- You can redeem your Southwest flight credits through the Southwest website, mobile app, phone, or at a Southwest ticket counter. They can cover cash flights as well as taxes and fees associated with rewards travel.
- Southwest flight credits don’t expire, so you don’t have to worry about losing them if you don’t use them.
- Southwest allows you to transfer flight credits to someone else if your canceled fare was a Business Select, Anytime, or Wanna Get Away Plus fare.
Southwest flight credits are essentially travel funds you can apply toward future flights. They aren't the same thing as airline miles you earn from one of the air carrier's co-branded Chase credit cards . A passenger earns these flight credits when they cancel a Southwest reservation up to 10 minutes before the flight is scheduled to take off.
You can redeem your flight credits by going to the Southwest website at Southwest.com, by phone, through the mobile app, or at a Southwest ticket counter for future flights. You can reach Southwest customer service at 1-800-I-FLY-SWA (1-800-435-9792).
You can also use Southwest flight credits to cover any taxes and fees associated with rewards travel. And since Southwest doesn’t charge cancellation fees, the entire cost of your canceled ticket can be put toward your next flight; you’ll pay only if there’s a fare difference.
Do Southwest flight credits expire?
Southwest flight credits no longer expire. Southwest has eliminated expiration dates on all Southwest flight credits unexpired on or created on or after July 28, 20222.
Keep in mind that other forms of Southwest travel funds, such as gift cards or LUV vouchers, might have expiration dates. The expiration date is typically listed on the card or travel voucher, or you can check the expiration date online.
Can I transfer Southwest flight credits?
Southwest allows you to transfer flight credits to someone else in certain cases. This feature is available for customers who buy their flights using the Wanna Get Away Plus fare, as well as the Anytime or Business Select fares.
Both the sender and the receiver of the flight credit must be Rapid Rewards Members. To access the transferable flight credits associated with your Rapid Rewards account, you need to log in to your account and select “My Account” from the menu options at the top of the page for desktop or scroll down to “My Travel Funds” at the bottom of the page for mobile and the Southwest app.
Next, select “Payment” from the menu options within your account. Any available transferable flight Credits and flight credits in your account should be listed.
Other types of Southwest travel funds
Keep in mind that you can also receive other forms of travel funds from Southwest, this includes:
- Southwest gift cards you received or bought
- Southwest LUV vouchers you received for inconveniences on past trips
These can be used similarly to Southwest flight credits, but different rules may apply.
To use your Southwest flight credit, follow these steps:
- Access your flight credits: You can do this through My Account by selecting the Payment tab on southwest.com or “Check Travel Funds” on mobile.
- Write down your original ticket confirmation number: You might need this when making your new reservation.
- Browse and select your new flight: Search for the flight you’d like to take to begin the booking process.
- Apply your flight credit: You should see an option to apply a flight credit or other travel funds in the payment section. You can do so by entering the confirmation number associated with the flight credit.
- Make sure you got a confirmation: After applying your flight credit and completing your booking, you should receive a confirmation of your payment and new booking.
You can also call Southwest or visit a ticket counter to redeem your unused funds.
Sometimes, your Southwest flight credits won’t be enough to cover the cost of your flight. This can be frustrating, especially if you weren’t planning to travel and just want to make use of your funds. But with Southwest Rapid Rewards, you’ll always earn bonus points toward future travel when you have to make a purchase.
If your Southwest flight credits aren’t enough to cover the cost of your upcoming flight, consider using a Southwest credit card to cover the difference. Chase is the credit card issuer for the Southwest credit cards, but you'll earn Southwest rewards, not Chase Ultimate Rewards. You’ll rack up some serious Southwest points and perks through one of these credit cards , which are known for being some of the best airline credit cards .
For example, a Southwest credit card can even help you earn the Companion Pass faster, which lets you take a travel companion with you for free on all your Southwest flights, excluding taxes and fees. You can also use flight credits in conjunction with Rapid Rewards points or with a Southwest gift card.
Southwest’s cancellation policy is extremely generous and is just one of the reasons we love the airline . Even though their cards are some of the best travel credit cards , you’ll need to be aware of the rules associated with redeeming your Southwest flight credits and keep track of any information you’ll need to access your funds. With these tips in mind, you can worry less about canceling flights because of a travel disaster and start putting your funds toward your next travel adventure.
How many Southwest travel funds can I use?
You can use up to three forms of payment per Southwest transaction, including travel funds and vouchers. As long as your travel funds are valid for the flight date and passenger(s) in question, you can apply as many as three separate vouchers to the same purchase.
It’s important to note that because Southwest only allows up to three forms of payment per transaction, your combined vouchers must cover the entire cost of the flight(s), including fees and taxes. If you don’t have enough flight credits to pay the entire balance — or are using LUV vouchers, which require taxes and fees to be paid separately — you’ll be limited to using two vouchers. In that case, you will need to use an alternate form of payment, like a travel credit card, for the balance.
Can I use my flight credits on the Southwest app?
Yes, you can use flight credits (as well as LUV vouchers and Southwest gift cards) when booking a flight through the Southwest mobile app.
As with all other Southwest booking platforms, you are limited to a total of three payment options per booking. If you are using multiple flight credits or LUV vouchers to book a flight, you’ll need to ensure they cover the full cost (airfare plus any government fees, taxes, or charges).
Otherwise, the maximum number of flight credits or vouchers you can use per booking is two. That is so you can cover the difference with a credit card or other payment method without exceeding the three-payment-method maximum.
Should I convert my Southwest flight credits to points?
If you have Southwest flight credits, you’ll have the option to convert travel funds into Southwest Rapid Rewards points . Depending on how you plan to use those funds, this may or may not be a good idea.
If you plan to book a flight prior to your funds’ expiration, converting might not make sense. In many cases, you could lose money on the funds-to-points conversion, which gives you less flight for your money.
However, there are some cases in which converting might be the right idea. This is the case if:
- You have existing Rapid Rewards points but are slightly short of how many you need to book the desired flight. Converting funds to points would give you a large enough balance to book the trip you want.
- You book flights for your family, friends, or other groups. The flight credits are linked to your name and can be used only for your own flights. Rapid Rewards points can be transferred, shared, or used to book flights for others.
How do I extend my Southwest flight credits?
Southwest flight credits that were created on or after July 28, 2022, never expire, so you no longer have to worry about extending your flight credits.
Can I transfer my Southwest flight credits to someone else?
Yes, Southwest enables you to transfer flight credits to someone else as long as your fare type is a Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime, or Business Select. Also, keep in mind that both you and the receiver of the flight credit must be Rapid Rewards Members.
Southwest flight credits: bottom line
If you've had canceled flights with Southwest, you might be sitting on a list of valuable Southwest flight credits. These credits are a flexible way to book future travel, covering both cash flights and the taxes and fees on award flights. The best part? They don't expire, giving you the freedom to plan your next adventure on your own schedule.
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The Points Guy
How to quickly earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Posted: November 1, 2023 | Last updated: November 1, 2023
Did someone mention bringing a designated friend or family member for (almost) free on any Southwest flight you take?
With the current elevated 75,000-point offers on the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card, you can quickly earn the 135,000 Companion Pass qualifying points.
With Southwest’s Companion Pass, you can bring a friend or family member you designate as your companion on any Southwest flight you take for next to nothing. You’ll only need to pay the taxes and fees on the second ticket just like you would on an award ticket , whether you paid for your flight with cash or Rapid Rewards points. As a result, if you earn a Companion Pass, you’ll have over a year of nearly free buy one, get one Southwest flights.
Keep reading to find out just how you can earn one of these coveted passes.
What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The ability to bring along a travel companion for nearly free is not unique to Southwest. Many credit cards offer some form of a single-use companion fare , allowing you to bring a travel companion at a heavily discounted rate.
However, the magic of the Southwest Companion Pass is that you can use it as many times as you want until the pass expires. Even if you were to fly every day of the year, your companion could come with you for just the cost of taxes and fees. It even applies to award tickets, allowing you to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points for yourself and bring your companion without using additional points.
TPG values Southwest points at 1.4 cents each, but earning the Companion Pass can effectively double the value of your points (or cash) when flying on Southwest using the pass.
Remember, you’re not limited to flights within the lower 48 states. Over the last several years, Southwest has expanded to (and within) Hawaii and added short-haul international flights .
Additionally, you can change your designated Southwest companion up to three times per calendar year. In other words, you can have four different companions in the first calendar year, then three in the second year (up to seven total across the life of your Companion Pass). It’s worth noting that even if you switch back to a previous companion, it still counts as one of your three allotted changes per calendar year.
Related: Your complete guide to maximizing Southwest Rapid Rewards
How to earn the Southwest Companion Pass
Earning the Companion Pass requires accruing 135,000 qualifying points or taking 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. That sounds like a lot, but considering the mountains of points available from Southwest Airlines credit card bonuses, it’s not as difficult as it initially seems.
Plus, the Companion Pass has an impressive shelf life: It’s valid through the end of the year in which you earn it, as well as the entire year that follows. If you time it correctly, that could be nearly two years of BOGO privileges.
So what are qualifying points for earning the Companion Pass?
It’s important to note that not all Rapid Rewards points count toward the 135,000-point requirement. Here’s how Southwest defines points that will count:
Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest®, points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards® partners.
As you can see, all revenue flights booked on Southwest will count toward earning the Companion Pass, as will points earned on Southwest’s cobranded credit cards. Where things get a bit trickier is the “base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners” verbiage. Do all partners count?
The Companion Pass page on Southwest’s website provides some examples of partner activity that will count toward qualification:
- Rapid Rewards credit cards, including sign-up bonuses
- Shopping and dining partners, including Rapid Rewards Dining
- Home and lifestyle partners
However, many things do not count toward earning the Companion Pass. The first is any transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards . If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and were hoping to transfer your points to earn the Companion Pass, you’re out of luck. Purchased points, flight bonus points and points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs don’t count.
In a nutshell, here’s the best strategy to earn a traditional Companion Pass:
- Open a new Southwest credit card (or two) sometime in November
- Do not reach any minimum spending requirements until after your December statement closes
- As soon as your December statement closes, begin spending to reach those thresholds
Doing this will ensure that any bonuses you earn will be posted to your Rapid Rewards account early in the following year — and thus count toward next year’s qualification. Know, though, that you could miss earning the pass entirely if you don’t time it correctly. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of three strategies.
Related: How to use the Southwest Companion Pass
Southwest credit cards
Points earned from Southwest Rapid Rewards credit cards , including any sign-up bonuses you receive from the cards, count toward the Southwest Companion Pass. There are five different Southwest cards out there with varying sign-up bonuses. So, new applicants can leverage these bonuses to accrue a large chunk of the 135,000 points required to earn the Companion Pass.
Additionally, Southwest cardholders will enjoy an annual boost of 10,000 points toward Companion Pass qualification every year. This will post within 30 days of opening your account and then again at the beginning of every calendar year. This effectively reduces the number of points you must earn to 125,000.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card have the same elevated welcome bonus. You can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
As noted above, you’ll maximize your Companion Pass by earning it as early in the year as possible. A good strategy is to open a Southwest credit card in November or December and begin spending on the card but wait to complete your minimum spending requirement until you’ve entered the new year.
You might even want to wait until your December statement closes to begin spending on your new card. After all, this will ensure all the points you earn on your new card will count toward earning a Companion Pass, which would then be valid for up to two years. Here’s an example of how this might work.
If you include the new 10,000-point boost for cardholders, you’ve earned at least 86,000 qualifying points toward the Companion Pass (75,000 bonus points, 10,000-anniversary points and at least 1,000 points from the spending activity). Since they all hit your Rapid Rewards account in 2024, you’re almost halfway to earning the pass for the rest of 2024 and all of 2025.
One of Southwest’s business credit cards — the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card — can also accelerate your progress to the Companion Pass. New applicants of the Southwest Performance card can earn 80,000 Rapid Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
If you combine earnings from this business card with those from a personal Southwest card (again, time your spending carefully), you could qualify for a Companion Pass without any additional activity.
Related: Do I need a business to get a business credit card?
Chase application restrictions
Before going on an application spree, remember that Chase has restrictions on Southwest credit cards related to sign-up bonuses. The following verbiage appears on the application pages for the Priority, Premier and Plus cards:
The product is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards® Credit Card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of any Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Card who received a new Cardmember bonus within the last 24 months. This does not apply to Cardmembers of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Card and Employee Credit Card products.
As a result, you can’t open a new Southwest personal card if you already have one or earned a sign-up bonus on one within the last 24 months. You’ll also want to ensure you’re familiar with Chase’s general application restrictions, including the issuer’s infamous 5/24 rule and the general rule that you can open one personal and one business card every 90 days.
As of now, Southwest’s small-business credit cards do not have the same verbiage. Instead, the business cards note:
This new Cardmember bonus offer is not available to either (i) current Cardmembers of this business credit card, or (ii) previous Cardmembers of this business credit card who received a new Cardmember bonus for this business credit card within the last 24 months.
Of course, all the points you earn from spending on Southwest cards also count toward earning the Companion Pass, so you could spend on your card to earn a Companion Pass. There are two other options, though, that should make the task easier.
Related: How to qualify for Southwest Companion Pass with 1 credit card sign-up bonus
Flying with Southwest: How much do you have to spend to get 135,000 points?
Another simple way to earn points for the Companion Pass is by actually flying with Southwest. If you don’t have a credit card and plan to earn the Companion Pass through flying in 2023, you’ll need to earn the full 135,000 points or take 100 qualifying one-way flights. This translates to the following spending on base fares:
- $22,500 on Wanna Get Away
- $16,875 on Wanna Get Away Plus
- $13,500 on Anytime
- $11,250 on Business Select
If you have travel planned early next year, consider booking with Southwest to earn points toward the Companion Pass. But remember, this strategy requires flying on many paid Southwest fares to earn enough Companion Pass qualifying points.
Related: 9 cool places you didn’t know you could fly on Southwest
Use a combination of credit cards and flying to get Southwest points
Of course, the best option for earning the Companion Pass will likely be some combination of flying and credit card bonuses.
Let’s say you open the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card at the end of this year and earn the full sign-up bonus in early 2024. Let’s also assume you spend a total of $10,000 on the card, and part of that spending is $2,000 on Wanna Get Away base fares, all of which are on flights flown in January or February 2024. You would earn:
- Sign-up bonus (for spending $5,000 in first three months) : 80,000 points
- Flying : 12,000 points ($2,000 x 6 points per dollar spent on Wanna Get Away base fares)
- Southwest airfare purchases on the card : 8,000 points ($2,000 x 4 points per dollar spent on Southwest purchases)
- Other purchases on the card : 8,000 points ($8,000 x 1 point per dollar spent)
This activity would earn you 108,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points, and when you include the 10,000-point boost as a Southwest cardholder, you’re now just 17,000 points away. You could easily make up that difference if you can leverage other earning opportunities like Rapid Rewards Shopping or a car rental through Southwest.
Since these points will all hit your Rapid Rewards account in 2024, your Companion Pass will be valid through Dec. 31, 2025. That’s a lot of BOGO time for using your Companion Pass.
Remember that your credit card points won’t appear in your account until a few days after your monthly statement closes. Any points from flights won’t post until a few days after you complete the trip. Again, timing is crucial to ensure you earn the Companion Pass and can use it for as long as possible.
Related: 13 lessons from 13 years’ worth of Southwest Companion Passes
The Southwest Companion Pass can be an incredibly lucrative benefit, especially if you can earn it relatively early in a calendar year to enjoy almost two years of free companion travel.
For those eligible, getting a nice bonus from a Southwest credit card or two makes quickly scoring the Companion Pass a vastly more manageable task than flying alone.
SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.
And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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