Update: now earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Card.
March 1st marked the start of Southwest’s new frequent flyer program, Rapid Rewards 2.0. The most significant change is that Southwest is now issuing points instead of credits. No longer can you fly 8 roundtrips and get a free roundtrip – you now earn different points for different fare types and your points have a sliding value depending on the fare you choose for your award.
With this new point system, Chase is launching two new credit cards, each with sign-on bonuses after the first purchase:
20,000, $69 annual fee. 3,000 points ($50 in flights) awarded each anniversary.
30,000, $99 annual fee. 6,000 points ($100 in flights) awarded each anniversary. 1,500 Tier Points for every 10,000 in spend.
Southwest is allowing those who have old credits (as few as .25) to convert “new” points to credits at 1,200 points = 1 credit. So 20,000 points = 16.67 credits.
Whereas 8 credits (which would have equaled a one way award ticket with the old guard) in the new program equals 20,000 points and are worth different amounts depending on the fare you are redeeming for:
Wanna Get Away: $333
Business Select: $167
30,000 points are worth:
Wanna Get Away: $500
Business Select: $250
I would have liked to see the annual fees waived for the first year and no foreign transaction fees since Chase is doing that on the United and Continental cards, but I’m thinking they will sweeten the deal as time goes on. If so, I’ll definitely cover it here.
I’m not a Southwest frequent flyer, but I can’t imagine many people are happy with the new changes. I suppose if you are a frequent business traveler who purchases expense fares and redeems for cheap tickets, you could come out ahead, but I think Southwest is going against their mantra of simplicity by implementing this new complex system of earning/redeeming ratios. That being said, I do like their elite program enhancements and the ability to redeem for international flights.