November 13th, 2012
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For a limited time you can get 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 within 3 months of getting the card. They’re marketing this as 2 free flights but in fact it is enough for about $950 of free flying on Southwest, so you can stretch out those points for as many as 15 free flights with Southwest’s low prices.
You can use the points for yourself or book award tickets for anyone else you want to give a ticket to. Plus Southwest allows you to cancel an award flight and redeposit the points in your account for future use without any penalties!
Don’t fly? You can also use 50,000 points to get $500 worth of gift cards to places like Amazon, Avis, Bed Bath & Beyond, Gap, Hyatt, Lowe’s, Macy’s, TJMaxx, Walmart and many others. Last holiday season they even discounted their gift cards so that 50,000 points bought $625 of gift cards, though it remains to be seen if that will return this holiday season. A $500 gift card to Walmart can always be sold to a place like Cardpool for $460 cash.
With Southwest’s Rapid Rewards “2.0″ program you can redeem points for any seat on any flight. For the regular “wanna get away” fare it costs 60 points for each dollar of airfare. In practical terms this means for example:
A one-way LaGuardia-Chicago flight on 12/04 is $68.80 with tax.
It can also be bought for 3,480 points plus $2.50 tax.
So 3,480 points gets you a value of $66.30 ($68.80 airfare less the $2.50 tax required on the points ticket)
So each point is worth 1.9 cents (66.30/3,480), valid for redemption on all flights.
The value per point will depend on your route, but points always seem to be worth more than 1.8 cents each.
The Southwest card comes with a 50,000 point signup bonus, which at 1.9 cents per point is worth $950 towards Southwest flights just for opening the card and spending $2K.
There is a $99 annual fee but with this card you earn 6,000 points every anniversary that you have the card, which is worth $114 towards Southwest flights!
You get 1 point per dollar on regular purchases, which is equal to a rebate of 1.9%.
You get 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, including hotel and car rentals via Southwest, which is equal to a rebate of 3.8%
Plus you get a free companion pass if you earn 110,000 points in a year from any source, including earnings from credit card bonuses and credit card spending! If you earn 110,000 Southwest points for example by 02/01/13 the pass will be good until 12/31/14. The pass allows you to bring a companion with you for free when you fly Southwest, even if you are flying on a free ticket!
Points transferred from Ultimate Rewards to Southwest don’t qualify towards companion pass status, but points transferred from Ultimate Rewards into Hyatt and then into Southwest do qualify! So you can transfer 50K Ultimate Rewards points into 50K Hyatt and 50K Hyatt transfers into 30K Southwest.
In other words if you get 50K points from signing up for this credit card you can transfer 100K Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and then into 60K Southwest points, worth about $1,140 towards Southwest travel. Plus then you’ll have a companion pass so that you can bring your companion for free whenever you fly Southwest, so that $1,140 toward Southwest is really doubled to $2,280 because of the free companion ticket. Not a bad value for a 100K Ultimate Rewards transfer.
You should time such a transfer and when you spend the $2,000 on this card so that the points post in 2013 and the pass will be good until the end of 2014.
Transfers to Airtran and Rapid Rewards “1.0″:
You can transfer increments of 1,200 Southwest points into 1 Airtran credit. Here is Airtran’s award chart, which does not price awards according to the cost of the flight. Thus you can get an international round-trip award ticket for just 19,200 Southwest points. These awards are capacity controlled however. A business class upgrade on Airtran is just 4,800 Southwest points.
Once they are in Airtran you can also transfer them back into Southwest’s old Rapid Rewards 1.0 program. In this program awards are just 16 credits (19,200 points) round-trip, no matter how expensive the flight is. These are also capacity controlled, but for some flights you will come out far ahead with this old program.
And as always, Southwest:
-Gives 2 free checked bags per passenger.
-Does not charge change fees to switch your flight. Whether you are on a paid or an award flight you can change without penalty!
-Does not charge a cancellation fee to cancel your flight (you will get Southwest credit for the full amount paid, even on non-refundable wanna get away fares) or to cancel and redeposit your award flight.
-Refunds the fare or point difference if the price of your flight goes down after you buy it, just call to get the credit at any time!