Better than 1:1 to Southwest from Amex & Chase points, almost 1:1 from Citi

20

We posted earlier today about the fact that Southwest travel funds can now be converted to Southwest Rapid Rewards points (See: Southwest travel funds conversion live & it’s a good deal). We noted within that post that one option that may now be interesting is the ability to convert discounted Southwest gift cards into greater purchasing power in terms of Southwest points. Other options to consider include using flexible currency points to buy Southwest tickets, cancel, and convert to points to achieve a better-than-1:1 transfer ratio.

Convert Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at 1:1.17

Those who have a Chase premium credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve, or Chase Ink Business Preferred can ordinarily convert Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a ratio of 1:1. Those who have the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card may be able to do a bit better.

That’s because points can be used at a value of 1.5cpp when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. I believe it is again possible to book Southwest flights over the phone via Ultimate Rewards and get this redemption value (Note that it may not be easy, but this post may help: How to book the cheapest flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards). It would therefore be possible to convert Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards points at a better rate in a roundabout way:

  1. Buy a Southwest flight redeeming points at a value of 1.5cpp. Let’s assume a flight that costs $150, which would require 10,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
  2. Cancel the flight with Southwest
  3. Convert the $150 to points at a rate of 1.28cpp and get 11,718.75 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  4. Final conversion ratio is 10,000 UR points = 11,718 Southwest points (or 1:1.17)

I’d not be in a huge hurry to convert at that rate, but if you had a conversion in mind for a specific use, this is a better deal than converting 1:1.

If you were unable to redeem points through a phone agent for a Southwest flight, another option would be to buy Southwest Airlines gift cards at a grocery or home improvement store and pay yourself back at a value of 1.5cpp, which would effectively achieve the same effect with a bit more complication.

Convert Citi ThankYou points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at almost 1:1

If you have a Citi Premier card that has been open since before April 10, 2020, you can still use points to book travel at a value of 1.25cpp until April 10, 2020. This means that (I believe) you can book a Southwest flight at a value of 1.25cpp and get a nearly 1:1 conversion:

  1. Buy a Southwest flight redeeming Citi ThankYou points at a value of 1.25cpp. Let’s assume a flight that costs $125, which would require 10,000 Citi ThankYou points
  2. Cancel the flight with Southwest
  3. Convert the $125 travel credit to points at a rate of 1.28cpp and get 9,765 Rapid Rewards points.
  4. Final conversion ratio is 10,000 TY points = 9,765 Southwest points (1:0.977)

That should enable you to eke just a bit more value out of the points with Southwest. This may be particularly attractive if you’re looking to clean out a ThankYou points balance.

Convert Amex Membership Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at 1:1.2

If you have the Business Platinum card from American Express, you can redeem points on your chosen airline and get a 35% rebate (up to 500,000 points rebated per year). This makes it possible to get a favorable conversion ratio to Southwest points:

  1. Buy a Southwest flight redeeming Amex Membership Rewards points with a 35% rebate if you have a Business Platinum and have selected Southwest as your airline. Let’s assume a flight that costs $150, which would require 15,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. After the 35% rebate, your net cost would be 9,750 Membership Rewards points.
  2. Cancel the flight with Southwest
  3. Convert the $150 to points at a rate of 1.28cpp and get 11,718.75 Southwest Rapid Rewards points
  4. Final conversion ratio is 9,750 MR points = 11,718 Southwest points (or 1:1.20)

Like the other options in this post, that’s not such a compelling value as to transfer speculatively, but it could certainly make sense in some scenarios.

Other flexible cash-like currencies

The same technique could be used to convert other cash-like currencies to Southwest points. For example, if you have rewards on a Capital One Venture card, Barclays Arrival+, or other cash-like points currency, you could effectively use those points to buy Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Bottom line

Again, I wouldn’t make the trade from a flexible currency to a specific type of airline mile without a specific use in point. With near-term travel in flux for many of us, it probably won’t make sense to make a conversion here unless you need the points to book something now. Still, it could make sense if you can use fewer net points to book the fights you want this way.

It also adds an option for moving these flexible points (or any of the above currencies) if you’re looking to close out an account. In some cases, it is easy enough to keep those points alive, but if you’ve decided to cut and run from a points program, this could be a reasonable way out given the fact that Southwest points don’t expire.

0 0 vote
Post Rating

Email subscription form header
Please enter all required fields Click to hide
Correct invalid entries Click to hide
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

20 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] In any week in which the new Aeroplan program wasn’t revealed, this would have been the hot news of the week in loyalty programs. Eligible Southwest Travel Funds can now be converted to points at a great rate — in fact, it is theoretically possible to buy a flight today for cash, cancel, convert to points, re-book the same flight, and come out a little bit ahead. See this post for more details. For ideas about converting points to Southwest at near or better than 1:1, see: Better than 1:1 to Southwest from Amex & Chase points, almost 1:1 from Citi. […]

FreeFreeFree

I would suggest that anyone wanting to bank points this way actually look up fares/points on the routes you are going to take. SWA does not have a fixed rate of $/pt – to me it appears cheap fares have a better $/or ratio than more expensive fares.

For example a particular flight to Hawaii that comes in at $324 prices out at ~25k pts for me. That’s 1.27 cents per point. But then you also lose the ~10% RR credit (and status earnings). But a $53 flight to Vegas prices out at 3276, for 1.47 cents/pt.

The big value here seems to be getting 1.5cents/pt booking via Chase’s travel portal (but currently, you can also get that for groceries and restaurants). Or whatever bonus younger for now through Amex or Citi. If one expects those methods are around in the future, I’d wait until you have an actual trip in mind to book. Now since Citi Premier’s 1.25cents/pt goes away next March, this might be a way to bank TY pts to southwest.

Last edited 1 year ago by FreeFreeFree
Tim

How do you book Southwest flights through Citi’s reward website? I only see options for the big 3 airlines. I really need to clean out my Citi points and cancel the card soon.

Ken

You have to call Citi.

Ken

I purchased a SW ticket with Citi Thankyou points. Now when I try to cancel the flight on southwest’s website it says “Travel Funds Held by Travel Manager. Upon cancellation, any travel funds will only be available through the travel manager who booked the reservation on your behalf.” Does this mean it will just go back to Citi points and I can not convert to SW points?

Last edited 1 year ago by Ken
Justin

Hi Ken, any update? I have same issue, but just after 24hrs, if this not work, maybe hassle to get back points.

Ken

I did a refund the next day and got all my points back. I may have to do a non refundable ticket so that Southwest will keep the funds, but I’m not sure. There must be some people who have done this.

Angela

I booked a flight on Southwest over the phone with Chase in May using UR points. No problems.

Yang Yang

How did you find SW trips on citi? I couldn’t find any…

Gary Leff

Has anyone actually done this successfully? Southwest says that only tickets purchased directly from them are eligible. Travel funds that result from other tickets aren’t supposed to be able to convert into Rapid Rewards points. Do we know that these tickets convert in practice?

Angela

I have no idea on this other than when I purchased tickets in May through Chase using UR, it seems to be just like purchasing through SW. I received all RR points for the cost of flights. I would think it would work, at least using UR points.

YoniPDX

Does SW purchases trigger USB Altitude for RTR at 1.5cpp?

I was asking – more for a DP and might provide a acceptable redemption or an exit method from USB AR balance.

Lynn

yes

D .

Using MR points with Business Platinum with 35% rebate on Southwest is probably a bad deal since you can’t book it online through Amex Travel. One would need to call Amex and pay a booking fee of $39/ticket.

I believe one could avoid this fee in the past by booking directly with Southwest and requesting a redemption, but this is no longer allowed.

Mike

Don’t they waive the fee for tickets than can’t be booked online. That seems to be par for the industry.

D .

Amex does not waive the fee, even on flights that can’t be booked online based on personal experience earlier this year. Let me know if you have a different data point. The 35% Business Platinum rebate is somewhat useless with Southwest due to the booking fee.

Travelfitforaking

Hey Nick,

I’m still sitting on my Amex Gold $100 airline credit with Southwest. I’m considering purchasing a sub $100 flight (i.e $97) and then cancel my flight several weeks later once the airline credit post to my account.

Then I would cancel my flight and take a travel credit from Southwest and convert the travel funds into SW points. Thoughts?

Travelfitforaking

Sorry about that. It wasn’t until I hit submit, that I noticed the first post about being able to convert points.