Southwest Gift Cards, Travel Funds, and LUV Vouchers — Everything You Need to Know

Southwest Gift Cards

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Southwest is my favorite airline for domestic and Caribbean travel (and soon, Hawaii!).

I love how simple everything is with Southwest — it’s easy to earn points and use them for flights with no blackout dates!

However, one thing that can get a little confusing with Southwest is all the different forms of payment: Gift Cards, Travel Funds, and LUV Vouchers.

While these might all seem similar, they have very different rules. Specifically, Travel Funds and LUV Vouchers can get a little tricky to use if you aren’t sure how.

Since I fly Southwest a lot, I’ve come across all 3 of these and have figured out the ins and outs of each. Here is everything you need to know to use Southwest gift cards, Travel Funds, and LUV Vouchers successfully!

Buying Southwest Gift Cards

Where to Buy Southwest Gift Cards

Southwest gift cards can be purchased online and at many retailers including:

  • Amazon
  • Giant Eagle
  • Target
  • Staples
  • Sam’s Club
  • Wal-Mart
  • Best Buy
  • Walgreens
  • Kroger

Hot Tip: Sam’s Club sells Southwest gift cards at a slight discount. This is a great opportunity to use your Chase Freedom 5x points bonus when warehouse stores are one of the bonus categories!

How to Purchase a Southwest Gift Card on Southwest.com

  1. Go to Southwest.com and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Under Southwest Products, click on Southwest gift card.

    Purchasing a Southwest gift card online
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  2. On the next page, click Get one now.

    Purchasing a Southwest gift card online 2
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  3. Fill in the amount and quantity you would like to purchase. Gift cards can be purchased in any amount from $10-$1,000. If you are purchasing multiple cards, they will all have the same value.
  4. Choose your delivery method. Your gift card can be emailed to you for free, or you can choose to have it delivered by UPS ($2.95, 4-7 business days) or FedEx ($9.95, overnight delivery). Any orders over $500 will be delivered by FedEx overnight free of charge.
  5. Fill in either the recipient’s email address or physical address, depending on your shipping method. You can add a gift message or leave this area blank.
  6. Click the yellow Continue button at the bottom right-hand side of the screen to continue to payment options.

    How To Purchase A Southwest Gift Card Online
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  7. Verify your details and enter your payment information.
  8. Click the yellow Purchase button to complete the transaction.

    Complete the purchase of your Southwest Gift Card
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Hot Tip: Buying a gift card through Southwest.com counts as a travel purchase, so be sure to use a credit card that offers bonus points on travel. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® earns 2x points on travel, while the Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card earns 3x points! Any Southwest Rapid Rewards card will earn 2x points on gift cards purchased through Southwest Airlines.

Purchasing a Large Volume of Gift Cards Online

Purchases of gift cards on Southwest.com are limited to $1,000 per transaction. If you would like to purchase multiple gift cards and will exceed the $1,000 limit, you can use the Corporate & Volume Sales order form.

  1. Go to Southwest.com and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Under Southwest Products, click on Southwest gift card.
  2. Click on the Corporate & Volume Sales tab.
  3. Then click on Southwest gift card order form highlighted in blue. This will bring up the order form to fill out and send in.

    Corporate and Volume orders for Southwest gift cards
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

How to Earn Tons of Points Buying Gift Cards

Whether buying a gift card for yourself or as a gift for someone else, they can be a great way to rack up tons of Southwest Rapid Rewards points! The key is using the right credit card at the right retailer.

Here are a couple of strategies that will help you maximize your points-earning when purchasing Southwest gift cards.

Using Southwest Gift Cards

Southwest gift cards can only be used for flights (plus taxes and fees) purchased directly through Southwest Airlines — either online, by phone at 1-800-435-9792 (1-800-I-FLY-SWA), or at a Southwest ticket counter.

Hot Tip: There are no fees to purchase Southwest gift cards. They never expire and are fully transferable.

Flights purchased with Southwest gift cards are non-refundable. If your travel is not taken or the flight is canceled, the funds will be held as Travel Funds to use on a future flight. The earliest expiration date of all funds used will be applied.

For example, let’s say you paid for your flight with 2 gift cards: one that expires in 3 months and another that expires in 6 months. If you have to cancel your flight, the funds from both gift cards will be held as Southwest Travel Funds with an expiration date 3 months in the future.

If you cancel your flight within 24 hours of takeoff, you need to contact customer relations at 1-855-234-4654 to receive your Travel Funds.

How to Use a Southwest Gift Card Online

Using a gift card to purchase a flight online doesn’t really differ much from purchasing a flight with a credit card.

  1. Go to Southwest.com and search for a flight as you normally would.
  2. Once you get to the Passenger and Payment Info page, scroll to the middle of the page where you will find Payment Method.
  3. Here you will see a very small drop-down arrow at the top of the payment box that says Southwest gift card, Travel Funds, or Southwest LUV Voucher.

    How To Use a Southwest Gift Card
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  4. Once you click on the drop-down arrow, you will see the box where you can input your gift card information. According to the website, you can enter up to 3 gift cards per passenger per reservation. However, in the past I have only been able to use 3 gift cards per reservation, regardless of how many people were on the reservation. Since you can only use 3 forms of payment in total, if your gift cards won’t cover the whole cost of the ticket, you would need to use 2 gift cards and a separate method of payment to cover the remainder.

    How To Use a Southwest Gift Card 2
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

What Can You Buy With a Southwest Gift Card?

Southwest gift cards are good toward the purchase of flights booked directly with Southwest. You can use gift cards online, over the phone, or in person at a Southwest ticket counter. Gift cards can also be applied to taxes and fees associated with your ticket.

The list of things you can’t use gift cards on is a little longer! The following are items you can NOT pay for with a Southwest gift card:

  • Southwest Airlines vacation packages
  • Southwest Airlines group desk purchases
  • Partner hotel and rental cars
  • Southwest Airlines merchandise
  • Southwest Airlines group tickets
  • EarlyBird Check-In
  • Oversized and excess baggage fees
  • Upgraded boarding at the airport
  • Pet fare
  • Cargo
  • Unaccompanied minor service charge
  • Additional Southwest gift cards
  • Inflight purchases
  • Purchases through a travel agent

Bottom Line: Southwest gift cards can be applied to your flight cost plus any taxes and fees associated with your flight.

How to Check Your Gift Card Balance

  1. Go to Southwest.com and scroll to the very bottom of the page. Under Southwest Products, click on Southwest gift card.

    Purchasing a Southwest gift card online
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  2. Then click on the Check Your Balance tab.
  3. Fill in your card number and security code. Click the reCAPTCHA and then the yellow Check Now box.

    How to check your Southwest gift card balance
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Southwest Travel Funds

Southwest Travel Funds are what you get if you cancel a flight or change a flight to a lower priced itinerary. Travel Funds only exist digitally — you won’t get a card, certificate, or voucher for these funds.

They can be redeemed through Southwest.com, over the phone, and at Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter locations.

Bottom Line: Travel Funds are good for 1 year from the date you purchased the original ticket (not from the date of your flight) and are only available to the person who was on the original ticket. You cannot use your Travel Funds to purchase a ticket for someone else.

Travel Funds are tied to your original itinerary.

For example, let’s say you cancel flight #1212 and receive Travel Funds for the price you paid. When you go to book a new flight, you will need to pull up your Travel Funds credit using the confirmation number from flight #1212. This information will not be listed in your Southwest Rapid Rewards account; you need to keep track of it yourself.

Hot Tip: Southwest Travel Funds expire 1 year from the date the original flight was purchased. You need to use them by the expiration date, not just book a flight by the expiration date! If you learned this the hard way (like me), have no fear: you can call to have your expired funds reinstated, but it will cost you $100.

How to Use Southwest Travel Funds on Southwest.com

  1. Go to Southwest.com and search for a flight as you normally would.
  2. Once you get to the Passenger and Payment Info page, scroll to the middle of the page, where you will find Payment Method.
  3. Here you will see a very small drop-down arrow at the top of the payment box that says Southwest gift card, Travel Funds, or Southwest LUV Voucher.

    How To Use a Southwest Gift Card
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  4. Click on the Travel funds tab, then enter the confirmation number from the original flight plus your first and last name, then click Apply funds.

    How to apply travel funds
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

How to Check the Balance of Your Southwest Travel Funds

While you can’t look up what Travel Funds you have, you can check the balance of your Travel Funds if you know the confirmation number from your original flight. Click here to check your balance, or follow the instructions below.

  1. To check the balance of your Southwest Travel Funds, click on Flight in the top menu, then click Manage Reservations.

    how to check the balance on a luv voucher
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  2. Click View Travel Funds.

    how to check the balance on a luv voucher or travel funds
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  3. Input your first and last name, plus the confirmation number for the flight that the Travel Funds are associated with. Click the reCAPTCHA box and then Check Now.

    How To Check the Balance on Southwest travel funds
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Southwest LUV Vouchers

So now that you’re up to speed on Southwest gift cards and Travel Funds, let’s talk about LUV Vouchers!

What’s a LUV Voucher, you ask? It’s a voucher you will get if you re-instate expired Travel Funds or receive compensation for a delayed flight, missing baggage, or volunteering to get bumped from a flight.

Southwest LUV Voucher
Image courtesy of Katie Seemann.

Southwest LUV Vouchers are valid at Southwest.com, by calling 1-800-I-FLY-SWA, or at any Southwest Airlines Ticket Counter. You will need the voucher number and security code (confirmation) to complete a purchase.

Your travel must be completed by the voucher’s expiration date (usually 6 months to 1 year from date of issue). The LUV Voucher can be applied toward your flight cost, but NOT any taxes or fees associated with your ticket.

Hot Tip: If you have a Southwest LUV Voucher, take a photo of it! This ensures you can still use it even if you lose the paper voucher.

How to Use a Southwest LUV Voucher on Southwest.com

  1. Go to Southwest.com and search for a flight as you normally would.
  2. Once you get to the Passenger and Payment Info page, scroll to the middle of the page where you will find Payment Method.
  3. Here you will see a very small drop-down arrow at the top of the payment box that says Southwest gift card, Travel Funds, or Southwest LUV Voucher.

    How To Use a Southwest Gift Card
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  4. Enter the voucher number and security code (sometimes referred to as the confirmation number), then select Apply vouchers to continue.

    LUV Voucher
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

How to Check the Balance of Your LUV Voucher

Checking your LUV Voucher balance on Soutwest.com is easy, but it’s a bit tricky to find. You can click here or follow the instructions below.

  1. To check the balance on your Southwest LUV Voucher, click on Flight in the top menu, then click Manage Reservations.

    how to check the balance on a luv voucher
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  2. Click View Travel Funds.

    how to check the balance on a luv voucher
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  3. This screen will default to the input for Travel Funds — just click on Check Southwest LUV Voucher right underneath to bring up the correct box.

    how to check the balance on a luv voucher
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.
  4. Fill in the voucher number and security (or confirmation) number, then click Check Now.

    how to check the balance on a luv voucher
    Image courtesy of Southwest.com.

Final Thoughts

Southwest Airlines offers 3 distinct forms of payment that require a little know-how to use: gift cards, Travel Funds, and LUV Vouchers. All 3 can be used to purchase Southwest flights online, over the phone, or at a ticket counter. However, they all have different rules as far as expiration dates, what they can be applied to, and who can use them.

Luckily, these rules stem from Southwest’s customer-friendly policies — including holding Travel Funds from a canceled flight for future use, and even occasionally rewarding you with LUV Vouchers if something goes wrong. Thankfully, once you know the basics, you will be the master of your Rapid Rewards account in no time!


*Featured image credit: Shutterstock.com

FAQ

Where can I buy a Southwest gift card?

Southwest gift cards can be purchased on Southwest.com and at many other retailers including: Amazon, grocery stores, Target, Staples, Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, and Walgreens.

Can you combine Southwest gift cards?

Yes, up to 3 forms of payment can be used at once.

Do Southwest gift cards expire?

No, Southwest gift cards do not have expiration dates nor will they devalue over time. However, Southwest Travel Funds and LUV Vouchers do carry expiration dates.

Travel Funds expire 1 year from the date you purchased the original flight that the funds are associated with. LUV Vouchers generally expire 6-12 months from the date of issue. The expiration date will be printed on the voucher.

Can I buy a Southwest gift card with points?

No, you can not purchase a Southwest gift card using Rapid Rewards points. A credit card is the only valid form of payment for gift cards on Southwest.com.

Can my Southwest gift card be replaced?

No, a Southwest gift card cannot be replaced if lost, stolen, or damaged.

What are Southwest Travel Funds?

These are funds that are issued to you if you cancel a flight or change your flight to a less expensive itinerary. They are held digitally, so you won’t receive a physical voucher. You need to know the confirmation number from your original flight to access Travel Funds.

What is a LUV Voucher?

A LUV Voucher is what you might receive if Southwest is offering compensation for a disrupted flight, lost baggage, or volunteers to take a later flight. You will receive a paper voucher, which you will need to keep track of — the voucher information is not available online.

Are LUV Vouchers transferable?

Yes, LUV Vouchers can be used to purchase a flight for anyone, not just the person the voucher was issued to.

Are Soutwhest Travel Funds transferable?

No, Southwest travel funds are not transferable. Only the person they were issued to can use them for a future flight.

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2 comments

  1. Kirk Benson · August 24, 2018 · Reply

    One issue to be aware of is if you use travel funds to book a trip and then cancel that trip, the expiration date will be that of the first trip, not the most recent.

    • Katie Seemann · August 25, 2018 · Reply

      Hi Kirk
      Yes, you are correct! The expiration date of your travel funds is set in stone and won’t reset if you cancel your flight.

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