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Back in February Southwest Airlines announced that they would be making changes to the way award prices are calculated for flights booked beginning on April 17, 2015. That means we have one more day to lock in Southwest Rapid Reward flights at the current prices.
How Southwest Rapid Reward Points Work Today:
Currently your Southwest points are roughly worth 70 points for $1 of Wanna Get Away fares you are booking, or about 1.4 cents each. This means that a $100 “Wanna Get Away” fare would cost you roughly 7,000 points and a $300 “Wanna Get Away” fare would cost you roughly 21,000 points. If you booked AnyTime or Business Select fares then the number of points required per dollar increased.
Award Prices Getting Even More Variable:
In other words, the cost in points for any Southwest award flight was already variable based on the selling price and the type of ticket you wanted. However, that was not variable enough for Southwest, so just a couple years after introducing Rapid Rewards 2.0 (where they use variable points for awards instead of a fixed number of credits) they are essentially chucking much of the playbook beginning on Friday and telling us that they will charge whatever they want in points for any given ticket.
Their wording naturally is different than that, but the meaning is the same. Technically they have said that:
Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors. However, there are still many flights which will stay at the current redemption rate. And don’t forget that when fares go on sale, so do the points needed for redeeming for a reward flight on those fares
So starting Friday “many flights” will stay at the current award redemption rate, but others will become more variable. I’d bet my secret stash of dark chocolate that “will vary” means “will increase in price”. Common sense tells us that the flights that will get more expensive will be the high demand routes/times/dates that many of us like to book.
Make Southwest Award Bookings Before Friday:
This means you need to book your Southwest award flights from now through October 30th (as far out as the calendar goes) either today or Thursday. You can always cancel and redeposit the points or rebook at a lower points price if that becomes available for no penalty, so there really is nothing to lose by booking any Southwest award flights you think you need between now and October 30th.
Remember you can transfer points into Rapid Rewards 1:1 from Chase Ultimate Rewards and cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card if you need to top off to an award threshold level in order to lock it in before Friday.
What are your thoughts on the coming Rapid Reward changes and did you get your bookings in before the April 17th deadline?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.