Maximizing Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Pre-March 31st Devaluation

by on January 22, 2014 · 13 comments

in Southwest

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Update: This offer is no longer available. View the current offer for the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card here.

Offer expired March 9, 2014.

Back in September, Southwest announced it would be devaluing Rapid Rewards points on Wanna Get Away redemptions. The short of it is, starting March 31, 2014, you’ll need 70 points per $1 instead of 60 points per $1 on Wanna Get Away fares, bringing down the per-point value from about 1.8 cents to just 1.4 cents each. That means time is ticking to maximize the current 50,000-point sign-up offers on the Southwest credit cards by redeeming before the March 31 devaluation deadline.

The 50,000-point offers are back!

The 50,000-point offers are back – time to get in on them before the devaluation.

Right now, those sign-up bonuses would be worth about $833 in Wanna Get Away fares, but after March 31, they’ll be worth just $715 – still a good offer, but not as great. Remember, you have the meet the minimum spending requirement for the bonus and then wait for the statement to close and the points to post – so if you’ve been thinking of applying, you should do so immediately to be sure you will score the bonus in time to redeem those points before the devaluation.

Now is also a great time to get these cards because the Rapid Rewards points you earn as part of the sign-up bonuses as well as on your credit card spend will count toward Companion Pass qualification.

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable frequent flyer benefits out there.

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the most valuable frequent flyer benefits out there.

Chase will allow you to get the sign-up bonus for each of its four Southwest co-branded cards, so you might want to consider also applying for the business version of the Premier or the Business Plus card if you have a small business. Many readers have reported that it is possible to get both in one day, so you can bank up to 100,000 points in one set of applications – and remember, you only have to earn 110,000 points to qualify for the Companion Pass.

Now is a great time for this strategy in particular because if you do manage to get the Companion Pass quickly right now, it will be good for almost two years until the end of 2015 – representing a potentially tremendous value in both saved money and points.

Ultimate Rewards' airline partners include 5 great carriers.

Southwest is also a 1:1 Ultimate Rewards transfer partner.

Other Pre-Devaluation Options

If you already have the Southwest credit cards, or are maxed out with Chase, there are still some other options for you. Remember that Southwest is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, so if you have the Ink Plus, Ink Bold or Sapphire Preferred cards, you can transfer those points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account – and I’d suggest doing so before the devaluation so you can lock in awards at the better rate. Just note that points transferred in from Ultimate Rewards do not count towards the Companion Pass.

Another more complicated, but potentially valuable, workaround is to convert Southwest Rapid Rewards points into the old Southwest credits via AirTran credits and redeem them that way.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 8.35.58 AM

You can do so here, but to explain how it breaks down:

1,200 Rapid Rewards Points = 1 Airtran A+ Rewards Credit

1 Airtran A+ Rewards credit = 1 old Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit

16 Southwest Rapid Rewards Credits (for a roundtrip award) = 16 Airtran A+ credits or 19,200 current Southwest Rapid Rewards points

So as you can see, in order to end up with the 16 old Southwest Credits you would need for a roundtrip award, you would  need to transfer 19,200 current Rapid Rewards points to get 16 A+ Credits then transfer those to old Southwest Rapid Rewards.

The current break even point, where it makes more sense to use old credits instead of new Rapid Rewards points is if there is Standard Award availability on roundtrip airfares of $320 or higher since Wanna Get Away fares require 60 Rapid Rewards points per $1 in base fare. After March 31, the break even point will be $275 (at 70 Rapid Rewards points per $1) – so any roundtrip flight with award availability that would cost more than that is probably better as an old Southwest credit redemption. Now, there’s been no news on whether this conversion rate will change, but for now this looks like a viable option.

The one thing to consider is that it’s a bit harder to search for Standard Award Availability – awards you can use those old Southwest credits on – and availability can be tight on popular routes. It also looks like the value of these fares are calibrated for itineraries that are close to or at parity with the value you’d get from your Rapid Rewards points instead of old Credits, but in certain instances, you can save thousands of points. You can read more about the process in this post.

For more information, check out these posts:

Southwest Devalues Rapid Rewards Points on Wanna Get Away Redemptions

Top 10 Reasons to Love Southwest Rapid Rewards

Maximizing the Southwest Companion Pass FAQ’s and Strategies

Top 10 Ways to Top Up Your Southwest Account for the Companion Pass

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • jlgctm

    You might want to add the option of transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and then to Southwest as a way to reach the $10K spend for the companion pass. There’s a devaluation of points there, but well worth it, if you need those points to reach the 110,000 points for the companion pass.

  • William

    I’m a bit new to all of this so bear with me.

    I signed up for the Southwest card late last year, and received the bonus shortly after. In order to maximize my RR, would I simply need to book a flight before March 31 or would I need to book and also fly before March 31?

    Thanks for your help!

  • steve

    Working toward the Companion pass: Choice Hotels is currently doing 50% bonus for RR members = 900 pts per night. Is it better to earn these or earn the choice points and convert them to top it off?

  • thepointsguy

    Simply redeem before march 31

  • Matthew Ender

    Since Southwest doesn’t fly internationally on their own, and still use the Airtran brand to do so, would transferring 19,200 RR points to 16 A+ credits be all you need to book an international award (i.e. Cancun) via Airtran?

  • iahphx

    I successfully applied for one of the personal cards with the 50K bonus. I did it because I need a few domestic tickets this spring and didn’t feel like paying for them. That said, your discussion reminds me that, if I get another Southwest credit card and spend a total of 10K on the 2 cards, I can get a companion pass that would be good for almost 2 years. That seems like a pretty good deal. And you can still use the Companion BOGO on award tickets right?
    I didn’t realize that Southwest had 2 personal credit cards. What’s the difference?
    My only hesitation is that I have SO many Chase cards. Like 7 or 8 of them. Chase hasn’t denied me a card yet, but I do have to call to reallocate the credit line. Is there a point where they’re likely to cut me off — or are they generally willing to let you have an unlimited number of their credit cards as long as you reallocate your credit line?

  • jay

    When do you think SW will open up their bookings later in the year. I want to book with the companion pass for late December and was hoping to make the reservation before the devaluation kicked in but that isn’t looking likely at this point.

  • Marty

    Ok, I’m a bit confused. Luckily, I already have the companion pass until the end of this year. I also have the Chase Ink with about 150k UR points that I haven’t transferred yet.

    I’m just confused though — what does transferring the miles now do that it wouldn’t do later? If it’s 1:1, then wouldn’t a point = a mile anyway?

    I would think redeeming miles before the deadline would maximize the reward, not just “having” them already in your SW account. When you go to redeem, if you have 50k now, you’ll still have 50k later, the rewards just may be a different amount.

    What am I missing here? Just don’t get why having the points in the account now would make any difference as it’s the redemption that would be different, no?


  • jtgray

    I think he means, only if you also use them before the devaluation date.

  • Chance Bradford

    Hey man,
    Ok, so I have the 100k points right now. I also have 30k UR and 40k Marriott points- What would be the best way to transfer over points to get the companion pass (at the 110k mark)?

  • jlgctm

    1) You could transfer 20K UR pts to Hyatt, then 20K Hyatt pts for 9.6K SW pts. You’d need to get 400 pts more for Southwest, either by buying something through their shopping portal or spending money on their credit card.

    2) OR you could transfer 25K UR to 25K Hyatt to 12K SW.

    3) OR you could transfer 30K Marriott for 10K SW.

    I’d choose option 1), unless you’re in a hurry. You can get 1K bonus points by ordering flowers from through SW (not simply through their shopping portal but using this link:

  • Chance Bradford

    You are the man! Thanks

  • djhbaw1

    Can anyone point me to a URL that works for checking the availability of “standard rewards” flights? I’ve tried the steps linked to above and the button doesn’t appear for me. Is there a standard link?

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