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Southwest Airlines is offering a 35% bonus on purchased Rapid Rewards points through April 22, 2015.
Ordinarily the cost per purchased Rapid Rewards point is 2.75 cents, though through this promotion that cost is lowered to ~2.04 cents per Rapid Rewards point.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a big fan of purchasing points when it makes sense. For example, I think Alaska’s current bonus offer on the purchase of Mileage Plan miles is a great deal, since you can buy miles for ~2.11 cents each, which can efficiently be redeemed on some great airlines. And I’ve also certainly purchased Avianca LifeMiles and US Airways Dividend Miles (RIP) in the past.
But Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program is revenue based, and at best each point can be redeemed for ~1.43 cents each towards the cost of a “Wanna Get Away” fare. And this is after Southwest devalued their redemption rates by about 15% last year.
As if that last devaluation wasn’t enough, on April 17 Southwest will be deviating from a strict revenue based redemption program (which seems a bit backwards given the direction the industry is headed), as extra points will be needed for “certain flights:”
Beginning April 17, 2015, the number of Rapid Rewards Points needed to redeem for certain flights will vary based on destination, time, day of travel, demand, fare class, and other factors.
When you have a revenue based program you’d think there would be no need to charge additional points per dollar for any flight, since presumably the revenue rate (and therefore the redemption rate) already reflects the increased demand and cost. But not at Southwest, it seems…
Lastly, for what it’s worth, Southwest points purchases are processed through points.com, meaning this doesn’t count as airfare spend for the purposes of your credit card.
I’d rather contribute to Creflo Dollar’s “Project G650” than buy Southwest Rapid Rewards points for more than they could possibly be redeemed for.
I suppose it could make sense to purchase Rapid Rewards points if you’re 1,000 points short of redeeming for a really expensive ticket, but that’s about the only scenario under which it would make sense. We’ve also seen (slightly) bigger bonuses on the purchase of points in the past.