From the Southwest blog:
-More international Airtran flights switch to Southwest-which makes them eligible for redemption and companion pass usage. And the international expansion is only just beginning.
A companion pass lowers the cost of a nonstop flight from NYC/Islip to Fort Lauderdale for example from under 11,000 points round-trip per person to under 5,500 points round-trip per person. (Sample date 03/31-04/07)
-You can now book flights through October. You can always redeem points now and rebook if the price drops or cancel if your plans change, all without paying any fees.
-Yisrael LUVs Southwest and catches their attention.
Originally posted on 01/09/14:
Signup offer and anniversary bonus:
You can get 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 within 3 months of getting the card. They’re marketing this as 2 roundtrip flights but in fact it is enough for up to $970 of flights on Southwest.
For example a one-way Los Angeles-Las Vegas flight on 05/07/14 is $62 with tax.
It can also be bought for 3,060 points plus $2.50 tax.
So 3,060 points gets you a value of $59.50 ($59.50 airfare less the $2.50 tax required on the points ticket)
So each point is worth 1.94 cents (59.50/3,060), valid for redemption on all flights. so you can stretch out those 50K points points for as many as 16 flights with Southwest’s low prices or 32 flights if you earn a companion pass.
Note that effective for booking made on or after 03/31 the value of Southwest points will be going down. For the flight in the example above you will need 3,570 points. For that route the value per point will be 1.67 cents (59.50/3,570). However you can still transfer points into the old program which isn’t being devalued-see below for more.
Free changes and cancellations. Lock in low fares with no penalty:
While other mileage currencies now charge $200 to cancel an award ticket, Southwest continues to allow you to cancel an award flight and redeposit the points in your account for future use without any penalties! Coupled with 2 free bags per person and that’s a lot of added value. A family of 4 needing to cancel award tickets on another airline would set you back $800 versus it being a free change on Southwest. A family of 4 checking 2 bags each would run $480 round-trip on another airline versus paying nothing on Southwest.
Thinking of taking a trip but not 100% sure about it? With Southwest points you can lock in a good rate and just cancel the trip free of charge at any point before the flight if you can’t make it!
You can use the points for yourself or book award tickets for anyone else you want to give a ticket to.
You can also use your points for Airtran flights as well! Plus because you will be booking the Airtran flights via Southwest.com you will get 2 free bags and free changes and flight cancellations as well!
You can also use 50,000 points to get $500 worth of gift cards to places like Alamo, Amazon, Avis, Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Bloomingdales, Brooks Brothers, Budget, Carnival Cruises, Children’s Place, Express, Fairmont, Gap, Hertz, Hyatt, Kohl’s, Lowe’s, Macy’s, Marriott, Motherhood Maternity, National, Nike, Office Depot, Saks, Sea World, Sears, Shutterfly, Staples, Starbucks, Toys R Us, TJMaxx, Walmart, Zappos and many others.
With Southwest’s Rapid Rewards “2.0” program you can redeem points for any seat on any flight. There are no blackout dates or capacity controls.
The value per point will depend on your route, but points always seem to be worth more than 1.8 cents each for discounted fares.
When Southwest has a fare sale the amount of points go on sale as well as it tracks to the price of the ticket. Best of all Southwest will refund your points if the price of your award ticket falls! Just rebook your trip online for the same dates or give them a call for the credit.
You get 1 point per dollar on regular purchases and 2 points per dollar on Southwest purchases, including hotel and car rentals via Southwest.
Plus you get a free companion pass if you earn 110,000 points in a year from most sources, including earnings from credit card signups and credit card spending! If you earn 110,000 Southwest points in 2014 the pass will be good until 12/31/15. The pass allows you to bring a companion with you for free whenever you fly Southwest, even if you are flying on a free ticket! There is no limit to the number of free companion flights that you can take.
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 $1,170 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 $1,170 toward Southwest is really doubled to $2,340 because of the free companion ticket. Not a bad value for a 100K Ultimate Rewards transfer.
See this post for more info on the Ultimate Rewards program and associated credit cards.
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 before your flight!
Other Chase consumer cards you can get at the time as the Southwest card include the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), Chase British Airways , Chase Freedom (which gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories and 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account), and the Chase United Explorer (which gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance in most countries worldwide besides Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more).
The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold business cards both give 50,000 signup points and offer 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply stores, 2 points per dollar for gas and lodging, no foreign exchange fees, free lounge visits, and a waived annual fee for the first year.