Given all the nickel and diming the legacy US airlines are notorious for, I’ve been quite the fan of Southwest Airlines in the last few years. Sure, you feel like cattle when you’re boarding, but it’s a small price to pay considering the advantages you get with your ticket: 2 free check in bags, no change fees, full credit back if you cancel your non-refundable ticket, the ability to cancel an award ticket at any time without penalty, family boarding after group A, and (the best part) the ability to bring on a car seat for your baby if the flight isn’t at capacity. I also like that you can watch TV on your laptop, tablet, or mobile device for free in the air. When it makes sense, Southwest is my airline of choice!
The best way to buy a ticket, however, is not straight from the Southwest website – at least not right away.
If you want to save 5% off your ticket, sign up for the Target REDcard credit card. The card has no annual fee and gives you 5% off all purchases at Target and Target.com. Once you have the card, purchase Southwest gift card(s) on Target.com and get 5% off your total purchase!
The 5% is taken off at checkout:
Even if you don’t live by a Target, this hack works since the gift cards can be delivered via email within hours.
If you want to stack the discount, you can go through Ebates first (it’s currently offering 1% cash back on all Target orders) to get to Target.com. If you aren’t familiar with Ebates, I’ve got a post explaining how I’ve used it to save when traveling as well as when just ordering anything online, and if you don’t have an Ebates account already, you need to get one. I’ve already earned $1,300 cash back through it! Anyway, go through Ebates to click to Target.com, then buy the Southwest gift card. Using this example, you’d get a $200 gift card for $188.10 ($190 paid to Target and then $1.90 cash back from Ebates) or 6% off. I used this trick to buy our tickets to Puerto Vallarta recently and saved $90!
As an extra bonus, the Target REDcard gets you 5% off all the gift cards sold at Target. There are gift cards for Disney, Apple, Sony, Starbucks, AMC, and more, so this is a really easy way to save money at retailers you may already visit.
Gift cards aside, all REDcard holders get 5% off everything at Target and an extra 30 days on top of the normal return period to return merchandise. Our local Target has a Starbucks inside and paying with the REDcard gets us 5% off there, too! What credit cards give you 5% back on your purchases? None, that’s what! Usually, credit card rewards programs only net you 1%-2% back so the Target card is a no-brainer for frequent Target shoppers, and it having no fee makes it a no-brainer for anyone who wants to save money via the gift card hack I described!
A final bonus is that any REDcard holder also gets free shipping from Target.com no matter how small the purchase. No joke, I recently placed an order for straws (literally like $1) and it was sent to my house without any issues. The box and shipping no doubt cost more than the straw. I love the convenience!
If you plan to do this, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- It will take up to 4 hours for the gift card to arrive. I placed two separate orders from Target and the first arrived right away but the second order took the full 4 hours before I saw it in my inbox.
- Southwest limits the number of payment methods you can use per purchase. For domestic flights, “Up to four of the following may also be applied in any combination: Southwest® gift cards, Southwest® LUV Vouchers, residual travel funds, and one Credit Card.” For international flights, “Up to two of the following may be applied per passenger in any combination to purchase travel: Unused international tickets, Southwest® gift cards, Southwest® LUV Vouchers, residual travel funds, and one Credit Card. Unused tickets are always applied first.”
- If placing one transaction at Southwest will exceed the number of payment methods allowed, break out the tickets and buy them separately so you can use all the gift cards without issue.
- If you cancel a ticket that was booked with a gift card, the unused travel funds remain in the ticketed passenger’s name and can only be applied to another ticket for that passenger.