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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.

(SEE ALSO: Did you get your new Chase Sapphire Reserve card yesterday?)

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

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

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.

(SEE ALSO: Guess which Southwest flights now cost more than 70 points / $?)

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.

An example

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

  1. You’ll use fewer points, as shown above
  2. 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 compare the Chase Sapphire Reserve with other cards through this link – 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?

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