Redeeming your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points is pretty straightforward. The number of points you need depends on the price and class of ticket you want. The more expensive in cash your ticket costs, the more points you need to book that flight. Each point is worth a set value towards the ticket price. But here’s the part where redeeming your Southwest points could get confusing – the set value per point has varied, depending on what type of ticket you booked.
If you aren’t that familiar with Southwest’s ticket classes, they fall into three categories:
- Wanna Get Away – These are the cheapest fares Southwest offers. You get two free checked bags and pick your own seats. These fares are non-refundable, however Southwest does let you change flights at no fee, or receive a voucher for the cost of your flight.
- Anytime – These are the same as Wanna Get Away fares except they are fully refundable (meaning you get your cash back).
- Business Select – These tickets are also fully refundable and give you priority boarding in Group A1-A15, Priority Screening and a complimentary premium drink. I’d think the biggest reason you’d book this fare is that you’re booking last minute and it’s the only ticket left.
Here were the previous value (ranges) of Southwest points when booking award flights.
- Wanna Get Away – 72-74 points per dollar (1.4 cents per point value)
- Anytime – 100 points per dollar (1 cent per point value)
- Business Select – 120 points per dollar (0.83 cents per point value)
So not only were the more expensive fare classes, well, more expensive, your points were worth less when booking fares in those classes.
Quick example: A $200 ticket would require 14,285 points if it was a Wanna Get Away Fare but would cost 24,000 points if it was a Business Select ticket. So it made no sense to use Rapid Rewards points to redeem anything except a Wanna Get Away ticket.
Well, not anymore.
On April 3rd, Southwest announced that STARTING THAT DAY redemption values using Rapid Rewards points were changing:
Beginning today, there will be some changes in the cost of using Rapid Rewards® Points to purchase tickets at Southwest. On average, it will cost slightly more, about 6 percent more, to travel using a Wanna Get Away® fare and quite a bit less, 35 percent less, in the Business Select® fare, and 22 percent less for an Anytime fare.
It’s our hope that the updates to our Rapid Rewards® program will make it more attractive for you to redeem the fare type that fits your travel needs. It will also make redemptions more affordable when you are booking close to your departure date and Wanna Get Away® fares are sold out.
Here are the new redemption values:
- Wanna Get Away – 76-78 points per dollar
- Anytime and Business Select – 78 points per dollar
Southwest just equalized the value of their points across all fare classes. So what happened? Many blogs freaked out!!!!
Another Day Another Devaluation – Southwest Makes Rapid Rewards Points Less Valuable
Southwest Just Devalued their “Wanna Getaway” Fares – More Points Now Required!
Southwest Wanna Get Away Fares Become More Expensive
DEVALUATION? MORE POINTS REQUIRED? Really? In relative terms, it’s a 5% increase in the number of points needed for Wanna Get Away fares. Personally, I’m more concerned about how much prices of Southwest tickets have gone up in general (which also makes award tickets more expensive).
However if I’m in a situation where I need to fly somewhere tomorrow and I want to use points, this would open up Southwest Anytime or Business Select fares as a reasonable option. Business Select fares will now cost 35 percent less and Anytime fares are 22 percent less.
For an airline that brags about their transfarency, I think of this as a fair deal. I’ll be paying a little more for my cheap redemptions but the option will be there to use points in a last minute emergency. I’m OK with that. If anything, I would have liked if they didn’t make it effective immediately. If you were waiting to make a booking, that increase might screw up your plans and that’s not fare, or fair. 🙂 Of course you might have a different opinion on the changes because Your Mileage May Vary.
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Featured photo courtesy of Tomás Del Coro via flickr