Posted by William Charles on April 3, 2018
Airline Rewards

Published on April 3rd, 2018 | by William Charles

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Southwest Devalues Points – Now Worth A Base Rate Of 1.28¢

Southwest points are worth a fixed value per point when redeeming for flights. When you redeem your points for wanna get away fares you previously paid 72 points per $1 (1.39¢). Southwest has changed this and you’ll now pay 78 points per $1 (1.28¢). With Southwest though it’s important to note that when redeeming points you only have to pay the base fare and you don’t pay any taxes or fees (although you do pay the mandatory TSA fee of $5.6 for one ways and $11.20 for round trip flights).

This means you’ll actually always get better than 1.28¢ per point. If the fare consists mostly of taxes then you’ll be getting better value than if it’s mostly base fare. In general lower cost fees consist of less base fare and more taxes. Here’s a practical example:

  • Flight one: $485 or 33,523 points (1.45¢ per point)
  • Flight two: $49 or 2,542 points (1.92¢ per point)

Below you can view a history of how much Southwest points have been worth:

  • 2011-2014 (March): All points were worth a fixed 1.67¢ per point
  • 2014 (April) – 2015 (April, 16th): All points were worth a fixed 1.43¢
  • 2015 (April 17th) – 2016 (April 19th or so): Fares in the lowest class were worth a fixed 1.43¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale
  • 2016 (April 19th or so) – 2018 (April 3rd): Fares in the lowest class are worth a fixed 1.39¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale
  • 2018 April 3rd – Currently: Fares in the lowest class are worth a fixed 1.28¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale

One thing that’s interesting is that with this change they are also changing the value you get when redeeming points for anytime and business select fares. Previously it was ~120 points per dollar for business select and ~100 points per dollar for anytime fares and they are now the same as wanna get away fares. Keep in mind those tickets are still most expensive due to the cash rates being higher. Some are trying to spin this as a positive or net neutral change, but I don’t know how you can take that position when the vast majority of loyalty members are redeeming for wanna get away fares. In addition Southwest has introduced this change without any notice. Whenever a loyalty program makes a change without notice my trust in them immediately diminishes. There’s no doubt we were ‘due’ for a Southwest devaluation, but at least give loyalty some advance notice to book using existing points under the old rates. We will update our post on how much Southwest points are worth to reflect these changes.

Hat tip to View From The Wing

 



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One devaluation after another…

On the bright side ticket prices in general are coming down and with increased ability to earn 7.5%/4.5% travel credit via Freedom/CSR or Altitude Reserve, buying the cheapest available cash flight tends to be a better option that trying to jerry rig a saver award flight. Of course if you want to fly in a 600 sqft suite with a private shower and butler you are SOL.

Whenever I price a Southwest flight, it’s cheaper to transfer points to my RR account and redeem than to purchase through Ultimate Rewards. Am I missing something?

Last flight it was cheaper to go through UR portal than to transfer, even if I don’t count the RR points I’ve got for the flight.

With WN handing out companion passes like candy to CA residents, it’s not like we didn’t see this coming.

Still, a 30% devaluation over 4 years is crazy.

Et tu, Southwest? 🙁

Exactly.

I have 80000 points and a companion pass and this is disappointing. I do have also have 600 dollars in Southwest gift certificates which luckily won’t go down in value. These Airlines are pushing people to cash back cards.

Those cheap sons of bitches. The points are revenue based meaning when the price goes up, the amount of points go up. Raise the price if you’re not making enough. That way everyone will be penalized instead of just the people with points.

This devaluation is worse than say an AA devaluation (or any other fixed price redemptions), in my estimation. When the award price is already pegged to ticket prices, awards automatically get more and more expensive as flights get more expensive, so it’s already perfectly tied to flight inflation/deflation. I would argue that Southwest really wasn’t due for a devaluation out of the blue, as the points would automatically be devalued over time anyway.

To put it another way, we expect a dollar to have less and less value over time; the cost of goods increases. This is equivalent to the dollar falling off a cliff and suddenly being worth 92 cents, while the price of goods hasn’t even changed.

I agree. When (not if) prices go up people booking flights on points are getting hit twice.

these values must vary depending on the routes. i have consistently found routes to SJU or MCO from BWI are still 1.6cpp. checking fares to PHX, they go for 1.4.

This is super disappointing. I am starting to question the worth of charging $110k just to get a companion pass.

Charging 110K???? Why not just use the sign up bonuses on the cards?

I can’t complain about this. It’s a 6% devaluation, which means for a 10,000 point flight I’m now paying 10,600 points. With the Companion Pass I’m paying 10,600 points for 2 flights. If I rent a car on my trip through the SW portal I get a minimum of 600 points, which covers the devaluation. I got 120,000 points when I got the 2 SW cc’s last year and still have plenty of points left. I’ve had the Companion Pass for over 5 years and have barely spent anything other than security fees and international departure taxes on my flights. Still the best travel deal out there.

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