Through July 31, 2014, Southwest is offering a 40% bonus on the purchase of Rapid Rewards points. You can (though I don’t know why you would) purchase up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points through this promotion.
The minimum number of points you can purchase through the promotion is 2,000, and then you can purchase them in 500 point increments above that. The 40% bonus applies across the board, so it’s not like other promotions where it’s tiered and based on how many points you purchase.
Factoring in the 40% bonus, the cost per purchased point is ~1.96 cents. Now, Southwest has a strictly revenue based frequent flyer program, meaning the number of points that it takes to redeem for a flight is directly dependent on the cost of a paid ticket.
You can redeem each Rapid Rewards point for ~1.43 cents towards the cost of a “Wanna Get Away” fare, so it’s hardly worth paying ~1.96 cents for a point that will get you ~1.4 cents of airfare.
That being said, if you just need to top off an account with a couple of thousand points in order to make a “bigger” redemption, it could definitely make sense. If I had Chase Ultimate Rewards points I’d certainly prefer transferring them to Rapid Rewards rather than outright buying them, though I realize not everyone has those points.
The bonus also applies to gifting points — the math works out the same, you’re simply purchasing points for a different account.
To put this promotion in context, in April they offered a 25% discount (rather than a bonus) on purchased Rapid Rewards points, which translated to ~2.06 cents per point. So this promotion is slightly better, but still not good enough.
Lastly, for what it’s worth, Southwest Rapid Rewards points purchases are processed by points.com, so don’t qualify as airfare for the purposes of credit card spend. Purchased points should post within 72 hours.
I always find it amusing when revenue based frequent flyer programs sell points for more than they’re worth, and unlike with miles there’s no way to “come out ahead.”
I write about it mainly because every time that Southwest runs one of these promotions, I get emails from people asking if it’s a good deal.