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Southwest Airlines New Rapid Rewards Program Has Arrived

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SouthwestRewards_Bob_B_Brown_FlickrIn early January, I wrote a blog about the upcoming changes to Southwest Airline’s Rapid Rewards program. Starting March 1, 2011 the New Rapid Rewards program takes effect.

Here’s a brief rundown of some of the changes:

  • The number of points earned depends on the amount of your airfare. Before, you earned credits based on the number of flights taken.
  • According to NewRapidRewards.com, here’s the formula: 1 credit=1,200 points=free flight.
  • You get points for every dollar you spend and they don’t expire. However, the fine print in the rewards program details says that if your account is inactive for 24 months, you forfeit the points. So yeah, technically they don’t “expire,” but you can sure lose them.
  • The website says there are no more blackout dates with Rapid Rewards Points earned after March 1. But there are restrictions when using your Standard and Freedom Awards.
  • You can now redeem points for international flights.

The comments I got on my previous blog were quite passionately against these changes. I’m guessing that public sentiment hasn’t changed.

I don’t have a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card from Chase. I fly out of Atlanta, so Southwest Airlines isn’t within my personal orbit. So I’d love to hear from those of you who are directly affected by these changes.

What are your thoughts about the new program? Is there anything you like about it?

[Related Resource: Roundup: 5 Airline and Travel Rewards Credit Cards]

Image: Bob B. Brown, via Flickr.com

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  • http://www.mkfunerals.com Roy Kiser

    Beverly, your calculation of points under the new program is inaccurate. In the new program you earn 6 points per dollar spent on a Wanna Get Away fare, 10 points per dollar spent on an Anytime fare and 12 points per dollar spent on a Business Select fare.
    With the Southwest Rapid Rewards Card you will earn 2 points for every dollar spent on Southwest and Southwest Rapid Rewards Partners and 1 point for every dollar spent on other purchases.

    To redeem your points for flights you have to multiply the amount of the base fare by the fair type multiplier. The fare multipliers are: 120 points for Business Select, 100 points for Anytime and 60 points for Wanna Get Away. For example, a $100 Wanna Get Away fare would require 6000 Rapid Reward Points (100 x 60 = 6000) and a $220 Business Select fare would require 26,400 Rapid Reward Points (220 x 120 = 26,400)

    So far, it looks like the losers will be those who mostly fly the cheapest short hops but wish to redeem their points for expensive long haul flights and those who wish to redeem there points for last minute getaways.

    Those who regularly fly long hauls, businessmen/women who purchase last minute tickets or those who use their Rapid Rewards Card often should have no problem accumulating points. Just be sure and book your travel early so you can get the Wanna Get Away fare. Also, considering that you now have the ability to use your points for overseas travel, cruises, etc., combined with the fact that points now don’t expire, should make this an improvement for most Rapid Rewards Members.

    • Rocism

      gr8 math!

  • Beverly Blair Harzog

    Roy–I was using the basic point calculation that’s posted on the New Rapid Rewards website. Obviously, there’s more involved when you get into the nitty gritty details. Your post is much more persuasive than what SW has on its website!

    Thanks for weighing in and for providing these calculations. I think this is the first positive response I’ve gotten about the changes, so it’s good to hear the other side. Hopefully, others will weigh in, too, because I’d really like to know how the majority of cardholders feel about the changes.

  • Bill

    I misinterpreted the SW email that said we can’t convert awards to Freedom Awards. I thought it meant during the conversion, but I see now that there are no more Freedom Award conversions allowed. This is bad. With all the blocked dates, it is now nearly impossible to use old awards. I’m very disappointed.

  • Beverly Blair Harzog

    Bill, did you check out the new Rapid Rewards website I linked to in this blog? Perhaps there are more details there than what you received via email. But I did notice there were blackout dates on the Freedom Awards.

    Just curious–did you also get notified about the changes by snail mail?

  • Sharon

    I currently have 10 credits on the old system. Apparently, I could buy 8000 miles (which brings me to required 16 credits on old system) for $200. However, I don’t know where this award ticket could take me what with black out dates, etc.(as apparently old rules apply for “Credits” rather than miles). I have not gotten any definitive answers on SW.
    If my $200 expenditure only gets me from Phoenix-LA, why would I bother? Personally, I think SW has screwed its loyal customers, and the only thing they have going for them is the Bag Fee. From now on, I will check the lowest fare for where I am going. SW is no longer my carrier of choice.

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