Converting Southwest Credits to Free Flights

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This is post #6 in a series discussing the Southwest Rapid Rewards program:

This series contains:

  1. Southwest Credit Card 50,000 Point Offer
  2. Earning and Redeeming Southwest Rapid Reward Points
  3. Earning Status with Southwest and the Benefits
  4. Changing and Canceling a Southwest Ticket
  5. Earning the Southwest Companion Pass
  6. Converting Southwest Credits to Free Flights
  7. Transferring Points to Southwest
  8. Transferring Points/Credits between AirTran and Southwest
  9. Extending the Life of Free Flights from Rapid Reward 1.0 Program
  10. Booking Southwest Flights with Chase Ultimate Reward Points
  11. Canceling a Flight Booked with Points
  12. Changing a Flight if Booked as a Roundtrip
  13. Getting Money Back if the Flight Goes Down in Price

This post only pertains to those who still have non-expired credits in their account from Southwest’s Rapid Reward 1.0 program. At this point, it probably does not pertain to anyone.

Through Southwest Rapid Reward 1.0, you used to earn 1 credit per flight. It was a very simple cut and dry program where it didn’t matter how much the flight cost or the distance you were traveling. Once you reached 16 credits you earned a free roundtrip ticket. The one caveat was that credits expired 2 years after they were earned, so if you did not reach the full 16 credits, they would fall off of your account.

Now that we have moved into the new Rapid Reward 2.0 program, many Southwest loyalists still have credits sitting in their account (like me!). Since you are no longer able to earn credits through flying, you are able to convert your points into credits. 1,200 points = 1 credit. If you do not have enough points in your account, you are able to purchase points at $0.025/point, which will equal $30 per credit. It is important to remember that the credits you earned in 1.0 still have the 2 year expiration date, so you must convert your points into credits prior to them expiring. Once you have a total of 16 credits, you will earn another roundtrip standard award ticket. These new tickets, however, expire 1 year after they are issued and cannot be extended for a $50 fee (like the old program free tickets). Also remember that you can transfer Aitran credits to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio for no cost.

So let’s take a look at my account so I can show you what I am talking about.

Step 1: To view your existing credits and the free flights you still have in your account from Rapid Rewards 1.0, click the “Where are my old Credits and and Awards?” blue button after you’ve signed into your Southwest account.

Step 2: Take a look at the number of credits you currently have and the amount you need to convert into a standard award ticket.

In my account, I have earned 5.5 credits that were transferred over from Rapid Rewards 1.0. To be able to earn a free roundtrip standard award I need an additional 10.5 credits. To do this, I will need to convert 12,600 points. Since Rapid Rewards 2.0 has a fixed rate on their points, 12,600 points is worth $210 (for a Wanna Getaway fare, 60 points = $1). If you typically redeem on inexpensive flights, converting your credits might not be worth it. For me, I try to get the most value out of my free tickets I earned from the prior program, so I will absolutely get a better value out of my roundtrip flight then $210. Those with only a few credits in their account might not see the value, but those with many credits in their account should absolutely convert their points. Remember though, free tickets still have capacity control restrictions. You will need to figure out what makes the most sense for you.

Step 3: Check out the expiration dates of your credits. You can do this by clicking the “View all expiration dates” link at the bottom of the page.

This will show you when each credit is expiring. I actually have half a credit expiring in a few days on July 20th. If I want to make sure to not lose that credit I will need to convert all 12,600 points over by that date and create a standard award. The standard award will then have an expiration date of 1 year from now. Since it is only half a credit, I am actually going to let it expire and come December convert my points over to credits. Although this will now require me to convert an additional 600 points (which is worth $10), it will allow me to extend the expiration date of this award an extra 6 months. The extra 6 months is well worth it to me. Now, if I had many credits expiring, I probably would not make that same decision.

Step 4: Once you are ready to convert your credits to a standard award, select the “Create Award” button.

You will then have a roundtrip standard award available that will expire in a year from the date the award was created. As mentioned before, you will not be able to extend the date for a fee. This award can also be used for anyone and not limited just for the account holder, which is great. Additionally, once you book your reservation, if you need to cancel the award, there are no fees. The award will simply go into your account to be used for another time (although the same expiration date will apply).

Just remember not to forget about those old Rapid Reward 1.0 credits!

Credit card to help earn the companion pass:  As mentioned previously, there are three different Southwest cards – ALL of them have the same bonus offer after meeting the minimum spend requirements, but different annual fees and annual bonuses. You can view all three cards and the differences in this prior blog postYou can learn more about all Airline credit card offers here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. As always, thanks for supporting the blog and enjoy traveling on a deal!

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Comments

  1. After you generate an award in December are you tempted to “seed” a new award by moving over .25 AirTran credits to Rapid Rewards? You then later create a new standard award by converting points. I prefer the standard award as it can be used for spontaneous walk-up travel without burning through tens of thousands of points.

    • @Roger – That’s a great point. Just a few weeks ago my sister had to come home last minute and the fare was costing $275 each way, but was available on a free ticket. I currently do not have any AirTran credits, but you can transfer Southwest points to AirTran credits (1,200 points = 1 credit) and then transfer that 1 AirTran credit to 1 Southwest credit. But you are correct, the minimum number of points/credits that can be transferred is 300 points (which equals .25 credits) and then .25 AirTran credits.

      I really hadn’t thought of that as 300 points is nothing (worth $5), so if its a loss then no big deal. Thanks for sharing!

    • @Nate – If you do not have any non-expired awards in your account, unfortunately there is no way to check for availability without having to call customer service. This is one of my biggest gripes with the program as there really is no reason there technology can’t give access to anyone.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I’d almost completely forgotten about those four credits I still have (the first of which expires at the end of this year). I’ll have to figure out a way to bump that up. I don’t fly southwest any more, but I’d hate to waste the progress toward the award, too.

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