UPDATE: This offer is sold out – all offers were in other people’s cards within seconds of the sale starting. Anyone able to get this offer?
So if you’ve been following this blog you know two things: 1) I absolutely love American Express and their Daily Getaway promotions, and 2) I love my Southwest Rewards Companion Ticket even more.
Today’s Daily Getaway gives three purchasing options:
- 40,000 Choice Reward points (175 available; max 2 per person)
- $149.40 with Amex (cost = $0.0037/point)
- $166 without Amex (cost = $0.0042/point)
- 36,000 Choice Reward points (575 available; max 2 per person)
- $140.40 with Amex (cost = $0.0039/point)
- $156 without Amex (cost = $0.0043/point)
- 32,000 Choice Reward points (456 available; max 2 per person)
- $120.60 with Amex (cost = 0.0038/point)
- $134 without Amex (cost = $0.0042/point
As with all other Daily Getaways, the sale starts at 1pm EST SHARP and using an American Express card will get you 10% off the price. All of these three options also have a pre-sale at 12pm EST and you will get the early access code by “liking” their Facebook page. Also, if you are thinking about purchasing this deal, note that they go fast and there is no guarantee that you will be able to purchase the number of packages you’d like (hint: do not use the same browser to purchase multiple options at the same time, you will be booted out). Make sure you create a Choice Privileges account as well.
So with today’s Daily Getaway you can purchase Choice Privilege points at a pretty good discount. There are three reasons to purchase these points:
- Redeem for Choice hotels at a discount
- Transfer your points to a partnering airline
- Transferring points to US Airways for the Grand Slam promotion to earn a hit (if it is still around)
I am pretty much going to skip over options #1 and #3 and focus primarily on option #2 – the option where I personally see the real value. Although, for many of you the value will be with redeeming at Choice hotels (especially internationally) or hoarding up points for the US Airways Grand Slam promo (5,000 Choice points = 1,000 US Airways miles). If you are aware of the Grand Slam promo, the 32k option will give you 6 opportunities to transfer your points over at a cost of $20/hit – which is good.
Alright, so back to how you can fly Southwest at a 24% discount by purchasing this deal. Choice allows you to transfer your points to Southwest at a conversion rate of 6,000 Choice points = 1,800 Southwest Rapid Reward points. So let’s take the 36,000 option as an example (since it is easily divisible by 6,000). If you purchase this option it will cost you $140.40 (assuming you use an Amex). Transferring those points to Southwest will then give you 10,800 Southwest Rapid Reward points. This number of points can be valued at $180 when used on a Southwest “Wanna Getaway” fare (60 Rapid Reward points = $1). So you can think about it as getting a $40 discount on a $180 fare (since you are only spending $140 to get $180 worth in value). This value is only 22% off, but this option is the most expensive (below I discuss a better value). Also, keep in mind that there is an opportunity cost as well, which I explain below.
Now, the other HUGE thing to note is that as of today, transferring points from the Choice rewards program to Southwest has counted towards an annual companion pass. You need 110,000 points to secure a companion pass that is good for this year plus the following calendar year. This is a great way to top off the amount of points you need to get to this point. Or, if you really want, you can purchase all the packages available, which will give you a grand total of 216,000 Choice Privileges points (the maximum you can purchase is 2 per package). If you transfer all of these points to Southwest you will end up with 64,800 points. There might also be the opportunity to transfer points from another account to the same Southwest account to enhance the points you get counting towards the companion pass. You can also couple this with the 50,000 point bonus Southwest Rapid Reward credit card which is still currently counting towards the companion pass as well. I absolutely love my Southwest companion pass and you can read more about it here. Just to quickly note, this companion pass has UNLIMITED usage, it is not just a one time thing. So in addition of being one step closer to the Southwest companion pass you will also have enough points worth $1,080 in Southwest travel. And remember, this $1,080 in travel only cost you $820.80, so you are getting about a 24% discount on all Southwest travel as well! The companion pass can also be used when the first traveler is using points to redeem their flight for free travel!
Some things to keep in mind though:
- Point redemption values for transferring or redeeming are subject to change
- Transferred points counting towards your companion pass could change at some point as well – it is not written anywhere that transferring hotel points do or do not count, it is all based on peoples experience
- You could take the chance and wait until next year to transfer your points from Choice to Southwest if you prefer the points to count towards next year instead – since the 110,000 points earned is based on calendar year, this could set you up nicely for next year
- Southwest points do not expire as long as you have flight or Partner earning activity every 24 months
- Choice Privileges points expire on December 31, two years after the year in which they were deposited into your account – therefore, points deposited into your account today will not expire until December 31, 2014
- When redeeming points you do not earn points, so there is an opportunity cost there (you earn 6 points per $1 spent on a “Wanna Getaway” fare) – the $180 flight from the example above would earn you 1,080 Rapid Reward points which can be valued at about $18 (so if you want to factor the opportunity cost into the mix, your $40 savings is really only $22, which is a savings of 12.3%
- When purchasing a ticket with points you can cancel for NO penalty (if you use credit card and cancel there is no penalty, but the voucher amount must be used by the original name within 1 year of purchasing the ticket)
While I wish this deal was beneficial when transferring to other airlines, there really is limited value, in my opinion. The other airlines transfer rate is 5,000 points = 1,000 miles. This means that you are buying airline miles at 1.86 cents a piece. While this is a better value then purchasing the miles directly, I would not suggest doing this unless you see a mathematical value in an upcoming trip you are planning.
I ran the numbers for this two deal a few weeks ago when Week 4 of the Daily Getaways promotion was announced and I’ve been excited ever since! I’m personally thrilled for the Southwest option, while I know others will enjoy inexpensive hotel stays around the world. Anyone else jumping on this deal?