Big Changes to the Southwest Rapid Rewards Program

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As of today, you essentially get a 10% rebate to use for future travel with the points earned from booking a Southwest Airlines “Wanna Getaway” fare. Well the number of points required to redeem for this fare type will be changing come March 31, 2014 – instead of 60 points per dollar when redeeming it will be 70 points per dollar. And unfortunately the number of points you earn per dollar spent will stay the same – 6 points per dollar spent. Now your 10% rebate (if you want to look at it this way), will decrease by 15% and you will now be getting a 8.57% rebate to use for future travel with the points earned from booking a “Wanna Getaway” fare.

I personally am not a fan of any devaluation of any program (who is right?!) so was definitely not pleased when I received this email. I am a huge Southwest Airlines fan and this isn’t enough of a devaluation to make me fly another airline. After all, I’ve had the companion pass for 5 years now and always get a free companion flying with me for free so I cannot complain there. In the past 5 years, however, I have seen Southwest increasing their fare price and they are by no means the low cost carrier that they used to be.

For flight post March 31, 2014, as long as you book prior to this date you will not be paying the increased point requirement. However, my assumption is that any changes to a flight after this date, even if it was made prior, will take on the new redemption policy. I will be sure to remind you all to book flight for future dates as this date approaches.

This will also change the way I think of transferring Chase Ultimate Reward points into the Southwest program. Currently you’ll get 1.67 cents per UR point when transferring, but that will change to 1.42 cents per UR point. While 1.42 cents is still better than booking through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, it might make you look at other programs more if you were one who often transferring your points to Southwest.

While I am obviously not thrilled about the change, I am hoping that this is their one change for awhile and we won’t see anything else from the earning and redemption side for a long time. It definitely could have been worse!

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  1. Who can be so “not thrilled” yet somehow satisfied with a program devaluation?

    Think about it: a devaluation on a program that is exclusively revenue-based for both earning and redemption is a pure rip-off that has little justification. At the very best, it reflects the short-sighted way they have been pricing their airfare.


  2. How do you keep the companion pass? Do you put sufficient spend on the credit card or do you fly WN that much that you’re able to earn it? I get how to get it with the sign up bonuses on the cards, but what about after that? I was always under the impression that Chase cards couldn’t be churned.

  3. You failed to mention that this devaluation is also a de facto raiding of all of our accounts. Each of us earned our points under the revenue based program at ~.0167 per point. This is not just about the new more expensive WGA redemptions. It’s about the devaluation of the points we accrued under the rev based program. This is huge and if you think it’s just about the rate increase you’re missing the biggest point. They are devaluing our points we earned from doing business with them previously. That’s the real story…. challenging you to do another post about that!

  4. i just use the free points from credit cards so really no big deal. free is free. and only take about 2 trips a year. dano

  5. How is this legal? I could understand that points earned after March 1 would be worth less. But the points I earned prior to that date should not be devalued. The card benefits explicitly state that points are good forever (as long as you continue to accrue new points). But devaluing points effectively violates that guarantee.

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