How One Traveler Visited Six National Parks for $266

Yellowstone

Credit cards often get a bad press for encouraging people to get into debt. However, there are some credit cards that come with perks that are worth having. The woman who used the perks of her card to enjoy a trip around six national parks in the United States for less than the price of a single trip is a perfect example of this. She had read an article about how residents of California could get a Southwest Companion Pass simply by signing up for a Southwest Rapid Rewards Card. She had already wanted a Companion Pass but had believed it was difficult to get one. By signing up for the credit card, she was able to book six trips at a cost of $266 using the rewards that came as part of her sign up bonus.

The woman looked at Southwest’s route map with her boyfriend and realized that the Southwest destinations were quite close to many National Parks. They did a cost-benefit analysis by comparing competitor’s pricing at the airports and realized that Southwest’s were the most competitive prices, especially when using the Companion Pass. Since having the pass, the woman and her boyfriend have now visited six national parks. For their first trip, they flew to Las Vegas to visit Bryce Canyon and Zion. The next stop on their trip was to Salt Lake City where they visited Canyonlands and the Arches. Next, they flew to Seattle so they could go to Olympic National Park. Finally, they flew to Portland to visit Crater Lake.

Individually, the fees to each park would have been $185. However, by spending $80 on a National Parks Pass, you can visit all the parks with that single payment. By doing this, the couple saved $105 on a visit to one park alone. The total cost, when the price of the National Park Pass and the flights were combined, was $266 for the whole trip. By being savvy, the couple was able to visit some of the most stunning National Parks in the United States for a staggeringly low cost. They had the opportunity to see some of the most diverse and beautiful landscapes in the country, while also having fun along the way.

This example highlights the value of having a Southwest Companion Pass and suggests that it is one of the most valuable travel rewards available. You can use this card to pay for any Southwest flight, regardless of whether you are paying in points or a combination of points and cash. Although the woman in this story earned her Southwest Companion Pass by signing up for a credit card, this is not the standard route. It is usually awarded to those who have accumulated 110,000 Rapid Rewards points when flying with Southwest or by taking at least 100 qualifying one-way flights with Southwest in a 12-month period. Now, they have begun to offer their pass as part of sign-up bonuses with a range of credit cards.

There is a downside to obtaining the pass as part of a credit card sign up bonus. That is that the pass is only valid for the remainder of the current year. On the other hand, if you have earned the pass for your loyalty flying with Southwest, you have the card for whatever remains in the current year and for the whole of the following year. Another difference is that you get fewer points when you get your pass as part of a sign-up bonus than you would by earning your pass the hard way. Therefore, getting the pass in the traditional way is the better option but it is still an excellent offer if you are planning to get a credit card anyway. It also means you can use your points for trips straight away instead of waiting until you have earned your points.

It is worth considering taking advantage of a credit card offer so that you can enjoy trips immediately and then try to earn more reward points by the end of the current year. This way, you will then become eligible for the card for another year and you could potentially make great savings in the long run. Of course, this only makes sense if you take trips regularly and will take advantage of the rewards points you have earned.


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