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35% Bonus on Purchased Southwest Points – Should You Buy?

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Now through October 13, 2014, Southwest is offering a 35% bonus when you buy Rapid Rewards points. Points can be purchased in increments of 500 with a minimum initial purchase of 2,000 points and a daily maximum of 60,000 points.

Earn up to a 35% bonus on purchased Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards.
Earn up to a 35% bonus on purchased Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards.

Normally Southwest Rapid Rewards points cost 2.75 cents apiece to purchase, but with this promo the cost is reduced to 2.037 cents apiece. That’s a significant discount, but not enough to make buying worthwhile in most circumstances. You get the best value from Rapid Rewards points when you redeem for Wanna Get Away fares, however earlier this year Southwest devalued the value of points. Now Rapid Rewards members can redeem 70 points per $1 in airfare for Wanna Get Away fares– so you’re getting a value of 1.4-1.6 cents per point. Clearly, even at the discounted price, the math doesn’t work out in your favor when buying points unless you just need a few thousand to top up your account for a specific redemption. As always, you should do the math for yourself and figure out if taking advantage of this promotion makes sense for you. As a reminder, if you use your Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, you’ll earn double points on the purchase.

Comparing redeeming points vs. buying a ticket outright.
Comparing redeeming points vs. buying a ticket outright.

For instance, I priced out a flight from New York (LGA) to Chicago (MDW) in October and the price came to $117.10 vs. 6,707 points plus $5.60 in taxes and fees. This means for these flights you would be getting about 1.66 cents per point value, which is less than the 2.037 cents it costs to buy them (note that the redemption value here is higher than the 1.4-1,6 cents range given earlier because of taxes and fees included in the award). Also remember, you don’t earn points on point redemptions, but you would if you paid for the fare with cash.

There are some other great options out there to top up your Rapid Rewards balance. For instance, if you have the Chase Sapphire PreferredInk Bold or Ink Plus, you can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account at a 1:1 ratio instantly and for free.

Also, you can earn 50,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points with the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa when you apply and spend $2,000 in 3 months, The points from the sign-up bonus are eligible toward the Southwest Companion Pass, so if you’re looking for ways to stock up on points, that’s another great option.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A 16.24%-23.24% Variable Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95 0% Excellent Credit