Southwest offers what might be the most hassle-free loyalty program in the entire world, Rapid Rewards. It’s so reliable, that we’re deviating from our standard 25% reduction factor, and only using 10%. Rapid Rewards are that easy to use. There are very few companies left in the world that don’t play games and hide behind fine print. Thankfully, along with Costco, Southwest Airlines is one of those.
Although Southwest Rapid Rewards are extremely dependable, they’re not without drawbacks. Namely high-value award opportunities. Southwest primarily operates a domestic network, and only flies limited international routes. As a result, the >$0.05/mile valuations sometimes seen on other carriers do not exist. After the dust settled, we assigned an ACRV of $0.0057 per Southwest Rapid Reward point. This is a big devaluation from just last month, when we saw .77¢. This has been reported on several other points and miles blogs, but we were nonetheless taken back by the severity. A 25% month over month reduction in value is really bad.
|US Domestic Value||$0.0079|
|US Domestic Non-zero Average||0.0087|
|International Non-zero Average||0.0058|
|Overall Non-zero Average||$0.0073|
Subjectively, we would value Southwest Rapid Rewards more than our formula suggests they’re worth. Extras like free baggage and itinerary changes are worth something, but at this time not factored into our model. Maybe some day.
Sadly, this month we saw something that we’ve never seen with Southwest Rapid Rewards before: lack of award availability. As shown below, our hypothetical Seattle to San Juan flight was not bookable with points. This is likely because Southwest had no seats(paid or otherwise). This does highlight one glaring problem a Southwest traveler faces, no codeshare fallback. So while another airline might not have availability on their own metal, it’s likely they’d be able to book one on a partner.
Obviously, Southwest Rapid Rewards is an outlier in the US Domestic carrier space. Solid reliability vs. award potential, no baggage fees vs no premium cabin possibilities. Those looking for a hassle-free award booking experience, look no further. For those looking to maximize the value of their Chase Ultimate Rewards, United, Air France/KLM and Korean Air are better options.
Compared to it’s Peers
|Program||ACR Value||NZ Average||Updated|
|Alaska Mileage Plan||0.0084||0.0251||07/30/2018|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||0.0057||0.0073||04/08/2018|