Don't miss out! Join the thousands of people who subscribe to our once-daily email with all the best travel news
Yesterday I wrote about the premature introduction (and subsequent shutdown) of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is scheduled to go live this Sunday (August 21st), but for about an hour on Monday, there was a live application link.
Although there was no way to apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card when I wrote this post, you can now apply for Top Rewards cards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve travel benefit
I’ve already detailed some of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card benefits, but one that I want to talk about is
- Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed for 1.5 cents towards travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal (SEE ALSO: Why it pays to check the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall before transferring points)
Why that makes redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards obsolete
Southwest Airlines has a Rapid Rewards frequent flier program which operates on a (mostly) fixed value system. Unlike other frequent flier programs which have a zone or distance based award chart, with Southwest, each Rapid Reward point is worth a fixed amount.
Each point used to be worth 1.67 cents, but was devalued to 1.43 cents in April 2015, and even after that devaluation, another stealth devaluation has dropped the value of Rapid Rewards points on many flights.
But now that you can use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card to redeem travel on many airlines (including Southwest) for 1.5 cents per point, there’s really no reason to ever accrue Southwest Rapid Rewards any more.
Let’s look at an example – here’s a flight from Indianapolis to Los Angeles for a random date. I was going to use Columbus as my destination city but it’s apparently a “small regional airport”
You can see that the nonstop flights cost $134. If we show fares in points, we see
So let’s talk of the 2 options
- Using points – 8,029 Rapid Rewards points, plus $5.60 fee (equivalent to 373 points at the 1.5 cents / point valuation) – net cost is 8,402 points
- Using the Chase Sapphire Reserve card – that $134 flight will cost you 8,933 points but you’ll also EARN 669 points for taking the flight – net cost is 8,264 points
You CAN always transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1 to Southwest, but unless there is a transfer bonus, you’d be foolish to do so. Instead you should use your Ultimate Rewards to buy your Southwest ticket
- You’ll use fewer points, as shown above
- You’ll also EARN points on your flight (as far as I know)
One downside is that you can’t book your Southwest flight online through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal – you have to call in – see this disclaimer from the Ultimate Rewards portal
But it’s not always this simple
Unfortunately it’s not always that straightforward. As you saw with the example, it’s complicated because while a cash ticket (including those booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal) has all taxes and fees included in the price, an award ticket also is charged taxes and fees ($5.60 in the case of a domestic US ticket).
But because the 72 cent per point valuation only happens on the base fare portion of the ticket cost, you’ll see differing amounts of ACTUAL value. Looking at some of the 1-stop tickets above (from IND-LAX) you will see that they cost more in dollars and less in points, which makes the math a little different.
Still if Southwest keeps devaluing their points each year, this strategy will become more and more prevalent. Still it’s something to watch out for if you’re booking flights on Southwest.
You can apply for rewards credit cards through the image below – I do receive a commission if you apply for a card through this link
Had you realized this about booking Southwest flights through the Chase Sapphire Reserve portal?