There’s a little-known trick to capping Southwest flight redemption costs in many cases thanks to Southwest’s ongoing merger process with AirTran. As part of the merger, Southwest and AirTran provide a method for each airline’s flyers to convert their loyalty points to the other’s program.
Rapid Rewards Points from Southwest may be converted into A+ Credits with AirTran. Importantly, A+ Credits may be converted into an outdated Southwest loyalty product called Rapid Rewards Credits.
1,200 Rapid Rewards Points equal 1 A+ Credit.
1 A+ Credit can be converted to 1 Rapid Rewards Credit.
16 of these Rapid Rewards Credits can be redeemed for what Southwest calls a Standard Award.
Standard Awards are a holdover from the old days of Rapid Rewards. Each Standard Award is good for one roundtrip flight within the next 12 months. These awards are subject to availability and are limited by blackout dates, unlike awards booked using points directly. What makes them important is that Standard Awards offer a fixed-rate redemption that can be useful when fare costs are high.
For example, a flight leaving Jacksonville for Las Vegas four days after searching was available for $634 roundtrip. That would work out to 35,400 points for one roundtrip ticket using the regular redemption method.
At 1,200 points per credit, the conversion process described above results in a much better value, requiring only 19,200 points for the same roundtrip!
Creating A Standard Award From Points
To begin the conversion process, first go to this Southwest page and login using your AirTran account information. If you don’t have an AirTran account yet, take the time to create one first.
Note that your name must be written exactly the same on both accounts. For example, I originally created an AirTran account using John Casey Ayers instead of just Casey Ayers, which is how my Southwest account reads. I had to go back and create a new AirTran account using only Casey Ayers before the system would allow me to continue.
Choose the number of points you’d like to transfer and click the Transfer button:
After transferring over your Rapid Rewards Points, a new option will present itself if you navigate back to the same transfer page, allowing you to convert A+ Credits to Rapid Rewards Credits:
Once you’ve completed this transfer, go back over to the My Rapid Rewards tab and click on the button on the left titled View My Old Credits And Rewards. This will bring you to a page showing how many Rapid Rewards Credits you currently have saved:
Once you’ve amassed 16 Rapid Rewards Credits, an option will appear on this page to redeem them for a Standard Award.
Note that you only really need to send enough Rapid Rewards Points – 1,200, to be exact – through this process to mint one Rapid Rewards Credit. Once you have at least one Rapid Rewards Credit, Southwest’s site will allow you to use Rapid Rewards Points at the same conversion rate directly to cover the rest of your award flight. I, for one, certainly feel more at ease only sending 1,200 points through this process than 19,200 at a time!
It’s possible to check Standard Award availability by logging into your Rapid Rewards account and going to this page. If Standard Award space is open for an itinerary that would normally cost more than 19,200 points to book roundtrip the regular way, this conversion process can be a great way to save big!
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