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Ends today: Southwest now lets you convert vouchers into points — but is it a good deal?

Dec. 15, 2020
5 min read
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Today is the last day to take advantage of the chance to turn Southwest travel funds into Rapid Rewards points. Due to the unprecedented uncertainty around the future, every major airline continues to extend its change-fee waivers. If you've got an upcoming trip or you're thinking about booking future flights, airlines want to reassure you that you can cancel for future credit — without paying a $200 (or more) penalty.

But there's one airline that never charges change fees, even well before the pandemic. And that's Southwest.

If you voluntarily cancel a Southwest booking, you'll receive a travel fund for future use on any flight. These vouchers typically carry a one-year expiration policy and can only be used by the originally-ticketed passenger. Due to the pandemic, many funds have been extended through Sept. 7, 2022.

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Southwest's conversion feature

This feature debuted in August, giving travelers even more flexibility from travel funds by converting them into Rapid Rewards points. The Dallas-based carrier first announced this capability in April.

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest)

As mentioned, one of the downsides of travel funds is that they can only be used by the originally-ticketed passenger. That means that even if you purchased a ticket for a friend or family member, they’ll get to use the value of the ticket for future travel.

But Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for anyone you choose, never expire and never have change or cancellation fees. As such, they're much more flexible than travel funds.

Related: 9 ways to earn points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program

So, should you convert travel funds into Rapid Rewards?

Well, it boils down to the conversion ratio. And based on the tickets we've analyzed, it appears to be fixed at just under 1.3 cents per point. TPG's valuation for Rapid Rewards is 1.5 cents per point, so you're gaining some value when converting funds to points.

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However, when you redeem Rapid Rewards, you're still on the hook for the taxes and fees associated with your ticket. Though you're gaining some value in the conversion, you're going to need to pay out of pocket for the taxes. (Travel funds can be applied to the entire ticket, inclusive of taxes.)

(Screenshot courtesy of Southwest)

In addition, you don’t earn Rapid Rewards points on award tickets, but you do with tickets booked with travel funds. Furthermore, you don’t earn tier-qualifying points (TQPs) or Companion Pass qualifying points (CPQPs) for award travel. So even though you're gaining some value in the conversion, you'll be losing out on the points you could've earned when flying on a paid ticket.

As long as the conversion covers the difference in taxes and you're comfortable forgoing earning points and status qualification, then I'd consider converting funds to points, especially if you want to use vouchers for other passengers. You can also review our article on 4 types of travelers who should convert Southwest funds to points.

Again, this feature is only available through today — Dec. 15, 2020 — so time's running out to weigh your options. Just note that once you process a conversion, it's non-reversible.

Related: How to redeem points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards program

Terms and conditions of the conversion

In order to qualify for the points conversion, your travel fund must expire on Sept. 7, 2022. In addition, the name on the travel fund must match the name on the Rapid Rewards account. Though you can book award travel for anyone, the points themselves must be converted into the account of the originally-ticketed passenger.

Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for any seat (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Finally, the funds must've originated from a ticket purchased on Southwest.com, through a customer representative or approved by your employer.

Related: No, Southwest didn’t devalue its Rapid Rewards program overnight

Bottom line

Southwest has been offering the ability to convert restrictive travel funds into much more flexible Rapid Rewards points since August, but today is your last day to do so. There are times when it could make sense to convert your travel funds to points — assuming the conversion rate is lower than the points valuation. Note that you can't apply points to pay for taxes and fees though.

Whatever you do, make sure you've made up your mind, because conversions are non-reversible. And make your decision soon, since the feature is set to disappear at the end of the day today.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023