This is not clickbait–I learned something new yesterday that may help Southwest flyers save some change.
The American Express Business Platinum card offers 50% points back when you use your points to book through the AMEX travel portal. Thus, instead of getting one cent per point, you receive two. Spend 40,000 points on a ticket and you’ll get 20,000 back into your account.
But you never see Southwest in the search results. Indeed, Southwest tightly controls its booking distribution channels. Thus, I assumed that American Express points could not be used to book with Southwest. But yesterday I noticed this–
So you can use your points to get 50% back on Southwest, Frontier and Spirit even though you will not see those results online. If this is how you spend your points, it may make more sense to use the AMEX Plat than a Southwest credit card which only earns one point per dollar on all non-Southwest purchases. (Downside: harder to get the Companion Pass).
Let me give a small plug for the AMEX travel agents as well. While some are apathetic, some are highly skilled and can book complicated mixed cabin bookings that are hard to build using an online travel agency and impossible using the AMEX online portal.
Remember, that if you book with AMEX, you’ll still earn Southwest points for your flight. Those points are worth 1.5 cents each, a pure revenue-based valuation that correlates with the current fare.
What about Mixed Carrier Bookings?
Say you book a ticket that is United is one direction and American in the other (it happens). Do you still get 50% off? AMEX told me it is the issuing carrier that counts. So if you chose United as your 50% back partner, you’ll get the points back only if United issues the ticket. If AA issues the ticket, you will get zero points back. How do you know? It is often not clear. The fare rules may be revealing, but sometimes you just have to wait for the ticket number to arrive and see what it starts with.
Remember that all premium tickets (business/first class) regardless of carrier get you 50% Membership Rewards points back.
While Southwest works for many people, I still recommend that you stockpile your points and use them for special trips. Premium cabin redemptions often represent a far greater value than domestic economy bookings and make aspirational travel possible for people like me who would otherwise not spend thousands on a pricey ticket.
But Southwest (and Frontier and Spirit) are available if you want to use AMEX points to book travel.