Southwest Devalues Rapid Rewards 15%

HT to The Points Guy for alerting me that Southwest Rapid Rewards will be devaluing its points as of March 31, 2014. That’s still a long way off, but it might make some people pause before planning to apply for a new Southwest credit card in the near future since those points will likely be redeemed after this change goes into effect.

The change will only affect the cheapest “Wanna Get Away” fares, but these were the best use of Rapid Rewards points since they assigned a value of 1.67 cents per point. (By contrast, I value most other airline points at about 2 cents each because I can use them for international premium cabin awards, or even some pricey domestic fares that normally cost $500+.) The exact language of the change is as follows and can be viewed near the bottom of Southwest’s own website where it describes how to redeem points:

Wanna Get Away® reward flight bookings made on or after March 31, 2014 will require 70 points per dollar, an increase from the 60 points per dollar that is currently required.

The new change means the value of points will drop from 1.67 cents each to 1.42 cents each. This is a 15% decrease. The Points Guy thinks this isn’t a huge devaluation. While Southwest does have a very flexible policy on changing and canceling award flights to mitigate the damage, I’m not so sure. It’s not huge, but neither is this a minor change. To put it in different terms that may be easier to understand, it’s like increasing the cost of a business class flight from the U.S. to Europe from 110,000 miles to 130,000 miles. I think many of us would be upset over a change like that.

So, use up your points as best you can between now and March 14. At least Southwest provided plenty of warning — over six months to go!

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
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  • Ben L

    A lot of southwest redemptions actually come out to >1.67 cpp due to southwest including fees that some airports charge. Actually, the lowest that I’ve ever gotten out of a southwest pt is 1.7 and some as high as 1.9+.

  • tassojunior

    Good reason to cycle points thru the AirTran converter program where 19,200 Southwest points gets a r/t standard award anywhere.

  • Ie-Chen Cheng

    does it matter if you earn double points if you’re a list preferred?

    • Scottrick

      You’ll still earn double points. The problem is that the points have less value when you redeem them.