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Redeem Your Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Before They’re Devalued on March 31, 2014

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Spring is in the air, so if you’re planning to use your Southwest Rapid Rewards points for warm-weather getaway, you’ll have to do it soon. On March 31, 2014, Rapid Rewards points will be significantly devalued, so you’ll have to book your tickets before that date to get them while they’re still a hot deal.

For more details about Southwest Rapid Rewards and the points devaluation, check out the information below.

About Southwest Rapid Rewards

Rapid Rewards is the frequent flyer program operated by Southwest Airlines, a carrier loved by many for its cheap tickets and free checked bags. You can earn Rapid Rewards points by flying Southwest, where you’ll be awarded points for every dollar you spend on airline tickets. You can also earn points by traveling or shopping with one of its numerous partners or by using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.

Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, rental cars and gift cards. Check out the Rapid Rewards redemption site for a full list of options for cashing in your points.

The value of Rapid Rewards points, now and later

The million-dollar question when evaluating any frequent flyer program is how much value a point or mile carries, which usually varies quite a bit depending on how you redeem.

The Rapid Rewards points redemption structure is actually pretty easy to understand: Currently, each $1 of Wanna Get Away fare “costs” 60 Rapid Rewards. So if a Wanna Get Away ticket costs $200, you’ll need 12,000 Rapid Rewards points to get it for free. This means that the value of a Rapid Rewards point is 1.67 cents when redeemed for Wanna Get Away fare.

However, starting on March 31, 2014, each $1 of Wanna Get Away fare will “cost” 70 Rapid Rewards points. This means that the same $200 ticket from the example above will soon require 14,000 Rapid Rewards points to redeem, bringing each point’s value down to 1.43 cents apiece.

Although 1.43 cents per point is still a high value by industry standards, this is a significant devaluation and is coming a time when several other airlines have also made similar changes to their frequent flyer programs. However, if you have some Rapid Rewards points built up you can use them to book a Wanna Get Away ticket by the end of the day on March 30 for the 1.67 cent per point value. This means that if you were thinking about planning a spring break trip, you’ll need to make up your mind fast to get the best deal on your Rapid Rewards points.

Rapid Rewards tips and tricks

Despite the upcoming devaluation, the Nerds still think Rapid Rewards points offer customers a good value. Here are some of our tips and tricks for making the most of them:

  • Use your points for Wanna Get Away tickets—with this type of fare, you’re getting the most bang per point.
  • Don’t panic and redeem your Rapid Rewards points for gift cards or merchandise, where you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point (or worse). If you really can’t book a plane ticket before March 31, just hold off—even after the devaluation, you’ll still be getting an above average deal if you use your points for Wanna Get Away fare.

The takeaway: Southwest is devaluing its Rapid Rewards points for Wanna Get Away tickets on March 31, 2014, so you’ll need to move quickly if you want to redeem your points at their current value of 1.67 cents apiece. Pretty soon, you’ll only be able to get 1.43 cents out of each point, so start planning that summer vacation or anniversary getaway—pronto!

Plane ticket image via Shutterstock