Using the AirTran Credit Card Bonus to Fly Southwest

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AirTran currently has a limited time 1 Free Flight bonus offer when signing up for their credit card. The question I’ve been asked many times before is, “Can I transfer those credits and do they count towards the Southwest credit card?”

If you are not aware of the AirTran program, they run their loyalty program differently then most. They give credits per flight flown. With the credit card offer you’ll receive 16 bonus credits after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. On AirTran a free roundtrip flight requires 16 credits, so this is giving you one free flights (or two one-ways, depending on how you use them).

As you are probably aware, Southwest Airlines is in the process of acquiring AirTran Airlines. While this full acquisition is far from finalized,  they are allowing members to transfer their points freely between the two programs: A+ Rewards (AirTran) and Rapid Rewards (Southwest). This works great if you have points in one program, but want to redeem for a free flight in the other.

If you are looking for more free Southwest travel, you can get the AirTran credit card and transfer these points at a 1:1 ratio. This means that 16 A+ Reward credits = 16 Southwest Rapid Reward credit. If you are familiar with the old Southwest 1.0 program, these are the same type of credits you’ll receive. These are NOT points under the new program.

So no, these transfer of credits WILL NOT count towards the Southwest companion pass. With these transfered credits to Southwest, it requires 16 Rapid Reward credits to covert to a Southwest Standard Award. One Southwest Standard Award can be redeemed for 2 one-way tickets on Southwest, but they are capacity controlled. Unlike the new point system, they can’t be redeemed for any flight anytime, but the benefit is that a cheap ticket and an expensive ticket still require the same number of credits/awards to be used. If you do not currently have any Standard Award tickets in your account, the only way to check availability is by calling Southwest (1-800-I-FLY-SWA).

Now, even though the transfered points do not count towards the Southwest companion pass, if you are already a companion pass holder, you can use your companion pass on these free award tickets that the transfered tickets generate. So really this could end up as 2 free roundtrip tickets, not just 1! If you are looking to earn the companion pass easily, you can consider applying for the Southwest credit cards where the bonus points earned DO qualify towards companion pass status.

Credits, unlike points, do have expiration dates. Credits transferred from AirTran to Southwest will keep the original expiration date from the original program (which is 1 year after they are earned). Once you reach 16 Southwest Rapid Reward credits, they will automatically transfer to a standard award with a one year expiration date. So in theory you can really get two years expiration date from this. Wait 11 months to transfer your credits from AirTran to Southwest, and then with Southwest you’ll have another year from when the credits convert to a Standard Award. The only thing is, there is no saying when the AirTran program will be completely gone and might require you to transfer your credits sooner.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Key Links:

  • AirTran Airways A+ Rewards® Credit Card – Earn 16 bonus credits after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account – this equals one free roundtrip flights on AirTran or Southwest; Earn 2 credits after each cardmember year; Get 2 AirTran Airways Business Class upgrades after first purchase; Earn 2 A+ Rewards Dollars per $1 spent on AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines® purchases made directly with the airlines; Earn 1 A+ Rewards Dollar per $1 spent on all other purchases; $69 annual fee.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for supporting the blog and enjoy traveling on a deal!

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Comments

  1. Just how strict are the capacity controls on southwest flights for these tickets? Are we talking on the order of two seats per flight, half the plane, etc? Are they usually available for last minute flights still, or do they disappear soon after schedules load? I’m not sure if anyone knows an answer to this, or if there’s any pattern, but it’s worth asking just in case!

  2. So there is no points conversion ?? Only award credits , in this case 32. which would still be allowable on Soutwest for 2 flights ??

    I live in the Dallas area, a SW stronghold but there are no longer any Airtrans flights in North Texas

  3. Do you know why this deal is so good? Because AirTran’s CC is no longer being run by Barclays.

    I got the email from this blog about this deal. Did my research and found that Chase is doing the promotional offer. Naturally some of the best offers have come from Chase in the last year.

    App’d, approved.

    “Get 32 bonus credits after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account1 with your new AirTran Airways A+ Rewards® Credit Card.2 That’s enough for 2 ROUNDTRIP FLIGHTS! And you can enjoy it all for a $69 annual fee.†

    Plus, you’ll receive 2 CREDITS EVERY YEAR after your Cardmember Anniversary.3

    ENJOY MORE FLIGHTS IN NO TIME.

    Get 2 AirTran® Airways Business Class upgrades after first purchase.4
    Earn 2 A+ Rewards Dollars per $1 spent on AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines® purchases made directly with the airlines.3
    Earn 1 A+ Rewards Dollar per $1 spent on all other purchases.3
    Earn 1 A+ Rewards Dollar for every $1 in balance transfers up to 9,600 Rewards Dollars within your first 90 days. The balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred with a mininum of $5.†”

    I can do this promo without batting an eye.

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