Day 3261 – How I Got $621.96 In Free Flights And Am Going to California For $521.96 And How You Can Too

Y’ll know I love Southwest. I’ve blogged about them a lot but I wanted to share about a recent experience I had with Southwest and a new experience with Allegiant free travel as well.

Now first, my biggest piece of advice when using a rewards credit card is to know your limits. We use our credit cards like cash and pay them off about once a week or every other week, depending on our income. The cool thing about both credit cards is I can pay off the card before the transactions post. Previous cards I used did not let me do this, maybe this is a newer feature and those cards now offer it, but this is a big feature to me. On some of my previous bookings, I purchased the tickets, then hopped over to pay them off right away. If you don’t think you can control yourself with a credit card (i.e. buy more than you normally would without a credit card), then use it to autopay some bills and keep it in a place where you won’t use it. We pay our cell phone and car insurance through our cards. I had a friend who put a large one time purchase on the card to get the bonus miles and paid it off right away. We use both cards for everything except rent.

Where we travel to in California is not a Southwest airport. That has caused us to do a few creative things like renting a car and driving from Vegas or sucking it up and paying for an expensive flight from Vegas to Fresno. Seriously guys, for a 45-minute flight, you’re looking at roughly $300+. A few years back, a new airline started flying into Fresno and it has made travel there SO much more affordable. That airline is Allegiant. It’s a very “you get what you pay for” and you do pay for what you want. If you’re traveling with checked bags and large carry-ons, it might be a little less affordable (you pay for each piece), but we’ve learned that our backpack and duffle bag work at personal items (i.e. they fit under the front seat). So we’re looking at a $40-80 (+taxes and fees) flight. You have to pay for drinks too (but you do get a free drink if you have the credit card).

On our last holiday trip to California, I signed up for the Allegiant credit card. I got a statement bonus of $50 after only six weeks of using the card. We then earned the signup bonus of 15,000 miles not long after. The cool thing about Allegiant’s miles is they translate miles to dollars (whereas Southwest’s miles fluctuate by the time of year and location). So 15,000 miles is $150 of travel. We used that card exclusively until we earned enough miles that I thought it would cover our next flight, then we went back to Southwest.

While both cards have a yearly fee, Southwest at least gives you 6,000 bonus miles on your anniversary. So a $99 fee that ain’t bad.

So that brings us to yesterday, where I booked flights from BWI to LAS to FAT (and back again). Here’s what my costs would have been for two people:
BWI -> LAS (roundtrip) via Southwest – $983.92
LAS -> FAT (roundtrip) via Allegiant – $160.00
Total cost – $1,143.92

I had enough points to cover Allegiant completely and I had enough points to cover one way on Southwest for each of us. That left me with paying for one way.
Total cost after points – $521.96
Total savings after points – $621.96

Over HALF of my flights were covered. What’s cool is that $521.96 will get me 3x the miles, which I’ll be able to use for later flights. If we end up staying in a hotel during our trip, if I book through Rocketmiles, I can get as little as 1,000 bonus miles.

I wrote a whole post on the ways you can earn miles, so make sure to check that out.

Do you have a Southwest card? Do you love it?

p.s. This photo is from a trip I took to Florida to visit a friend and flew for free and the whole trip only cost $139.99.

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