This is post #8 in a series discussing the Southwest Rapid Rewards program:
This series contains:
- Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
- Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
- Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
- Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
- Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
- Converting Southwest Credits to Free Flights
- Transferring Points to Southwest
- Transferring Points/Credits between AirTran and Southwest
- Extending the Life of Free Flights from Rapid Reward 1.0 Program
- Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
- Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
- Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
- Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price
As most of you are probably aware, Southwest Airlines is in the process of acquiring AirTran Airlines. While this full acquisition will probably take a few years, they are allowing members to transfer their points freely between the two programs: A+ Rewards (AirTran) and Rapid Rewards (Southwest). This works great if you have points in one program, but want to redeem for a free flight in the other.
Since Southwest changed their rewards system slightly over a year ago, it is slightly complicated to see how they transfer, but I’ll explain it all for you.
Transferring Southwest to AirTran (3 options):
- Points: 1,200 Rapid Reward points = 1 A+ Reward credit (*you need 8 A+ Reward credits for a free one way ticket, 16 A+ Reward credits for a round trip)
- Credits: 1 Rapid Reward credit = 1 A+ Reward credit (*the Southwest Rapid Reward credits were from the old Southwest program)
- Standard Award: 1 Standard award = 16 A+ Reward credits (*Southwest standard rewards have both an A and a B which are each good for a free one way ticket, you are able to transfer just one one-way for 8 A+Reward credits)
Transferring AirTran to Southwest (1 option):
- Credits: 1 A+ Reward credit = 1 Rapid Reward credit
Quick things to know:
- It requires 8 A+ Reward credits to redeem for a free one-way ticket on AirTran (keep in mind though that these free redemption tickets are capacity controlled) – if you are looking to transfer Southwest points this will require 9,600 points (which is equivalent to $137 if redeemed on a “Wanna Getaway” fare – keep this price point in mind when determining if you should transfer or not)
- It requires 16 Rapid Reward credits to convert to a Southwest Standard Award which can be redeemed for 2 one-way tickets on Southwest (again, these types of award are capacity controlled)
- You can transfer 19,200 Southwest points to AirTran for 16 A+Reward and then transfer for credits back to Southwest which will convert to a Standard award (good for 2 one-way tickets and expires within 1 year of conversion) – this is a great loophole if you are looking to redeem your Southwest points for Southwest travel and each way costs more than $137. The one caveat is that free Rapid Reward seats are capacity controlled, so make sure to check on availability prior to going this route (you’ll have to call Southwest to check on availability – 1-800-I-FLY-SWA)
- If you have a companion pass on either airline that will NOT transfer to the other
When do my credits expire?
- Once you reach 16 Southwest Rapid Reward credits, they will automatically transfer to a standard award with a one year expiration date
- Credits transferred from AirTran to Southwest (or vice versa) will keep the original expiration date from the original program
- The expiration date of newly created A+ Rewards Credits will be one year from the date of creation
- Standard award tickets transferred from Southwest to AirTran A+ Reward credits will have an expiration date as the original award from Southwest
Definitely keep these options in mind on the back burner when you are looking to travel these two airlines, just remember the award seat capacity control limitation. I looked into doing this today for Mr. Deals (Southwest points to AirTran) for tickets that were around $200 each way and only the really inexpensive (around $150ish) tickets were available for award redemption. Unfortunately the inexpensive flights required a layover in Atlanta on a flight from NY to Denver and brought the total flight time from 4 hours to 8 hours – and if you know Mr. Deals he was definitely not going for that!
Let me know if you have any questions!
Current Southwest Credit Card Offer: There are four different Southwest credit cards in total, two personal and two business versions. The main differences is that the cards have different annual fees and bonus points after each year. ALL of them have the same bonus offer . You can view all four cards and the differences in this prior blog post. You can also apply for the Southwest card here.
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Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.