To see the latest, updated offer on this card and others, please visit this page. Since this post was written, Southwest had devalued their points making the value to decrease slightly for point redemption.
The Southwest 50,000 point cards are back again! They are really great since they are giving you a value of at least $900 in airfare with one credit card sign-up. There is a devaluation coming in March, so this may very well be the last time you can earn this many points to redeem at the current level.
This time around, the cards being offered are the two personal cards, the Premier and the Personal, and the Business Premier and Plus cards. Each of these four cards have the same offer of 50K Rapid Reward points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months. To read more about the great value of this card and why I ranked it as the Best Credit Card for Domestic Award Travel, check this post.
What Can You Get?
Southwest Rapid Reward points are points that are fixed to the revenue of the ticket. In other words, the required amount of points for a trip will be scaleable to the dollar value of the ticket. If you redeem these points for Wanna Get Away fares, Southwest says that you can get $833 of value from these points. However, because that does not take into account the taxes that are eliminated when redeeming an award ticket (you only pay the fee for the ticket, $2.50 a segment), the actual value can be closer to $1,000.
My family and I went on a trip to Florida in March and used Southwest points to go there. The total cost for 4 tickets was 48,000 points! That is less than the points that can be earned with one of these credit card sign-ups! For four domestic tickets, that is an excellent value. With any of the legacy carriers (American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines and US Airways), the cost for that ticket would be 20K points (in very rare situations) or 25K (most of the time). In contrast, Southwest was only 12,000 points per person for this trip. The cost of these tickets were almost $1,000 so this was a great value.
In April, my wife and I went with another couple to Baltimore. We used about 4,000 points per person for that trip which was another great value. Sure, we could have purchased the ticket for under $100, but the point of the trip was to use points for the whole thing and Southwest Rapid Reward points made it happen.
You can also redeem these points for gift cards. While this is not typically the best value for these points, not everyone lives near an airport served by Southwest or maybe you have no desire to fly Southwest. If you want gift cards (like Amazon), these are the best credit cards to apply for. Yes, you can get gift cards with the Ultimate Reward points from the Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink cards, but that would be a very bad redemption method since those points are so flexible. With Southwest, gift cards are a great way to get some value from the points even if you won’t fly them.
Southwest offers probably the best airline perk of all – the ability to have a companion fly for free with you for this program year and the following year (read this previous post on the companion pass. That companion pass works on paid tickets or award tickets and can be redeemed at any time – it does not have to be booked at the same time as the primary traveler. As long as there is one seat left on the plane, the companion can get the seat. In addition, you can change that companion name up to 4 times – so if you have different people that you will use for different trips, you have that flexibility.
To obtain that companion pass, you need to earn 110,000 Rapid Reward points in one calendar year. Note: these points are not redeemed for the pass – it is simply the level you must reach to receive the pass. In other words, as long as you get 110,000 Rapid Reward points, you are able to have the companion pass and still use those 110,000 points for travel. This makes those points shoot up to a value of almost $4,000 if redeemed for Wanna Get Away fares (until their devaluation in March)! The way to get qualifying points is to either fly or earn credit card points.
To be clear, after you earn the 110,000 points in one year (through the credit card bonuses and spending), you will automatically earn the companion pass. You will still have the 110,000 points and you do not need to use them for travel even! If you wanted, you could translate those points into $1,100 of Amazon gift cards and the companion pass remains yours through 12/31/2015!
Should You Apply Now?
These offers do not currently state how long they will be around. More than likely, it will be for a few weeks. What should your strategy be for applying for these cards? If you want to obtain the companion pass, the best time to get the cards would be right now! If you were to get a business and personal card during this bonus period, you would receive a total of 104,000 Rapid Reward points (counting the minimum spending). That would require only another $6,000 in spending on either card to earn the companion pass for 2014 and all of 2015! That is a ton of value! So, here would be the strategy:
- Apply for the personal card (Premier or Plus)
- Apply for the business card (Premier or Plus) on the same day
- Be prepared to call in for the business card as the system will automatically decline or pend the second application of the day. Explain your business and you should be set to receive the card
- Spend the minimum spend ($2,000) on each card within 90 days
- Spend an additional $6,000 total on the cards
- Start thinking about who you will take with you for 2 years of free flights!
For domestic travel, these are the best credit cards you can get for the bonus (as long as you are near an airport serviced by Southwest/Airtran). Once the merger becomes complete with Airtran and integration is final, you will be able to use points (and the companion pass) to fly to many airports south of the border as well:
- Cancun, Mexico
- Mexico City, Mexico
- San Jose Cabo, Mexico
- Aruba, Aruba
- Montego Bay, Jamaica
- Nassau, Bahamas
- Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This is a great way to get exceptional travel for free and be in a great position for some upcoming races! My recommendation is to get these card now. Remember to only do one business and personal at a time and allow for a minimum of 30 days before you apply for another Chase card.