Southwest Airlines’ High Tech Solution for Tracking Flight Credits

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How To Combine Multiple Southwest Airline Credits

How To Combine Multiple Southwest Airline Credits

Southwest has one of the best frequent flier programs out there.  Not because it offers extreme value, it is a fixed value, but because their program is very flexible.  You are able to cancel flights, change flights, rebook flights at a lower price with no additional fee.  That is pretty rare these days.

There is one huge PIA factor, if you have had to change or rebook cash flights you are issued airline credit.  Having multiple credits is annoying and Southwest doesn’t make it easy to track, on purpose in my opinion.  But I will give you a workaround and I will also give you the hot take that the Southwest twitter team suggested.

Southwest Airfare Credits Explained

For the people that are not aware if you cancel, rebook, or change a flight and have a credit balance left over you get a travel voucher from Southwest.  This is like a gift card that can be used on future flights.  It has to be used within 12 months and it can only be used on the person who the flight was originally booked for.

While this is a great policy Southwest Airlines does not make them easy to deal with.  They do not add the credit to your account.  Southwest doesn’t save them anywhere for you to look up later.  They are not automatically applied to your next flight.  You need to keep track of them in order to use them.

Southwest does this because they want to cause breakage.  They doing what I call “customer friendly theater”.  It looks like a great policy, and it is, but it isn’t as customer friendly as it could or should be.  They are hoping a portion of large portion of these go unused.

PDX Deals Guy had 4-5 different credits so he decided to reach out to Twitter and see if they had any tricks or suggestions for dealing with multiple credits. They dropped some knowledge on him!

How To Combine Multiple Southwest Airline Credits

Yup they floored him with write them down on a piece of paper :).  No Way!  That is genius!!! All kidding aside they are essentially saying there isn’t much you can do.  Oh, but there is.

Multiple Travel Credit Combination Trick

I suggested that PDX Deals Guy should book a new flight that was a little more than the travel credits he had and then cancel the flight and they should be one combined travel credit.  Now remember that this will not reset the 12 month clock.  The original amounts will still expire after 12 months so if you have one that is expiring soon it probably isn’t best to add that one in.

You can do up to 3 forms of payment so you can use 3 travel credits at one time if they more than cover the airfare cost.  You could use anything left over on the next one.  The other option is to use 2 travel credits and then a credit card to pay the small remaining balance.  That is what PDX Deals Guy did.

How To Combine Multiple Southwest Airline Credits

Theoretically you could continuously roll these until you had one large credit.  I am not 100% clear if the new credit would have the expiration date of the one that expires first or if they would maintain their original dates.

UPDATE: Reader toomanybooks confirmed that the dates are all combined into the one that is set to expire first so be sure that you combine credits that have expiration dates near each other.  Or at least far enough out to use the entire credit.

I am pretty sure they would retain their original dates.  There was a flight I rebooked at a cheaper price but I only received a partial credit. I had paid for part of the fare with a travel credit that had expired by the time I rebooked so I only got a partial credit.

Conclusion

Once the credits are combined and when you are ready to use it you may want to try to keep it a little under the total so that you can pay some with a credit card.  This will give you flight delay/trip protection if your card offers it.  It may be worth keeping some of the smaller travel credits loose to make this easier to accomplish.  Something to consider.

You may already have a system in place for Southwest credits and if that works for you great.  I try to work smarter not harder whenever I can so being able to combine up to 3 credits into one is ideal for me.

Have you ever tried this method?  How do you keep track of Southwest Airlines travel credits?


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14 COMMENTS

  1. Be VERY careful doing this. The funds plus any cash you put it will all take on the soonest expiration date. Discussed in many many posts at Flyertalk. Search the word “taint.”

    • Yes something to be cautious with and why you should keep any credits with expiration dates nearing separate. Thanks for the confirmation – updated the post!

  2. This method will cause all combined credits to expire when the earliest one does. Unless you *know* you will use the entire amount before that, or they will all expire near the same date, the convenience will be costly.

  3. FYI, if you’re booking a flight with points and wanting to pay the fees with travel credits, you can only use two travel credits because they consider the points used as one form of payment.

  4. I created a “SWA Travel Credit” Google Sheets doc under my Google Drive’s “Travel Hacking” folder. That spreadsheet, that I can access anywhere, includes all pertinent details like: who, date, amount, the confirmation code needed to retrieve the credit, etc. Then I add lines that show the use and value reduction, because if you cancel THAT 2nd flight (for which you used a travel credit), then you have to use THAT flight’s confirmation code for the credit next time. I also list details of the SWA gift cards that I buy for my AmEx Platinum’s $200 annual travel credit on there too. Only way I can keep up with it all.

  5. I wonder what percentage of these credits end up never being used because SW doesn’t want to make it easy to track and use them. Alaska wallet is the higher standard SW should be shamed into adopting. SW knows this issue is a huge PIA for lots of their customers but they would lose a lot if they made it as easy as Alaska does to make use of your credits. I do love SW for a lot of reasons but in this area they have a long way to improve to show they care about their customers.

  6. Being new to Southwest I was shocked at how the credits were no where to be found when rebooking! Thankfully I was able to pull the original confirmation numbers up in my email! Southwest should be informing customers that they should retain all confirmation numbers to obtain future credits! They are crossing their fingers customers will never use the credits in my opinion!

    • Always been that way. Keep all your old emails and search for appropriate keywords or construct a spreadsheet and maintain it.

      As for the amount of money they make from abandoned or forgotten funds, it might be in their annual 10(k).

    • Forgot to say, if you always use the same CC to buy, their customer service can pull this info for you. Takes a long time on the phone.

  7. What about when I buy 5 Tix under one confirmation number (for my wife and young kids) .. I get a credit but I guess I can only use that credit for each person…. Right. So let’s say each ticket has a $40 ticket … I can’t use the total. Credit ($200) for one ticket .. right?

    • Nope you have to use the credit on the person who it was originally for so each person would get a $40 credit.

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