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Your next Southwest Airlines award flight is going to require more points. Southwest has devalued Rapid Rewards points unexpectedly. Award flight prices will require approximately 6% more Rapid Rewards starting immediately.

Credit: Southwest

6% Rapid Rewards Value Drop

Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth 6% less due to the devaluation. It requires more points to book these award flight types:

  • Business Select
  • Anytime
  • Wanna Get Away

For example, instead of spending 5,000 for a basic fare, you can expect to pay 5,300 with the 6% devaluation.

Cash prices for tickets appear to have the same value but those prices may rise too if passenger demand increases. Airline tickets have been at some of their lowest prices in years as relatively few people have been flying due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

This isn’t the first Rapid Rewards points devaluation. The discount airline made a similar overnight devaluation in 2018. In general, most airline loyalty programs have devalued their points at least once during the same 3-year span.

Hotel programs have also been gradually requiring more points for reward nights.

Should You Pay Cash or Rapid Rewards?

Like most airlines, Southwest uses a dynamic pricing model where flights cost more on peak travel days and prime flight times. But flyers that have been monitoring award flight prices will be the first to notice the sudden jump. Flyers will need to compare different travel dates, flight times, and routes to find the best value.

Despite this devaluation, Rapid Rewards can be some of the most valuable frequent flyer miles. Southwest may also require fewer points than the legacy carriers for the same route. Plus, your first two checked bags fly free which is also a hidden saving if you check baggage.

As many people have been accumulating points during the pandemic, it can be best to redeem Rapid Rewards. Even though award flights require more points, using points that you already have can reduce your cash expenses if you’re in a tough financial situation.

If you need a few more points, don’t forget that Southwest is a Chase Sapphire transfer partner. You can transfer Ultimate Rewards in 1,000-point increments at a 1:1 ratio.

Flyers who want a Southwest credit card can scoop up bonus points with the latest signup bonus of 40,000 Rapid Rewards after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months plus earning 3x Rapid Rewards on dining and takeout during the first year. Cards with this bonus offer include the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card.

Related: Best Southwest Credit Cards

Summary

Southwest devalued Rapid Rewards unexpectedly. This latest devaluation is a bummer for the award travel sector but also for Southwest Airlines fans itching to return to the skies. Despite having to spend more points on a flight, Southwest continues to be one of the best options for domestic flights and flying to Hawaii at competitive prices.

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2 Comments On "Southwest Devalues Rapid Rewards Unexpectedly"
  1. Mary E. Gallagher|

    What can we expect from an airline that wouldn’t extend or renew certificates given to passengers for their (SW) 2019 screwups that expired at the heart of the pandemic in 2020. Poor customer service to begin with, then poor customer relations. Soon if not all ready will be poor maintenance of equipment. We’ve all seen it before.

  2. Mike C|

    With airline fixed point redemptions, the effective value per point (mile) went way down when air fares dropped over the past 2 years. Did not see concerns about that defacto devaluation

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