The big news today is that Southwest Airlines will be devaluing their Rapid Rewards points as of 3/31/14. The best redemption option currently is their Wanna Get Away fares, which allow you to redeem one Southwest point for 1.67 cents (and it actually comes out even better after some fees – I’ve received 1.9 cents/point before), but this devaluation will bring the value down to 1.42 cents per point, an effective devaluation of 15%. Earning rates will remain the same.
This is a real bummer, because I’m actually a fan of Southwest airlines for some shorter domestic routes. Checked luggage is still free, customer service and their policies are generally great, plus they still give out peanuts or pretzels on their flights. I also find their flight attendants to be some of the best on domestic flights since they seem to have a lot of freedom with their on-board announcements (see Mr. Kanye SouthWest).
Anyway, this devalues not just Southwest Airlines’ points, but also Chase Ultimate Rewards points since Southwest is a transfer partner. Hopefully you haven’t moved a ton of UR points over to Southwest without having specific flights in mind, because if you did those points could be worth a lot less in 6 months.
If there’s a silver lining, the advanced notice is it. Southwest has given us a warning well in advance, which is one of the most customer-friendly things you can do when making a negative change to your loyalty program. While no devaluations are good, this one is relatively mild. Southwest isn’t exactly an airline where you need to make a ton of bookings in advance, but have this date in mind in case you fly with them regularly.