10 Feb Using Chase Ultimate Rewards to Fly on Southwest Airlines
We all know that Southwest Airlines is a Chase travel partner. Meaning Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred directly to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 point ratio.
And for those of us who did not know the above fact… you do now!
I have made this type of transfer time and time again – especially when I used to wield the ever-valuable Southwest Companion Pass – and I’ve never really thought twice about value.
UNTIL NOW! And by “now”, it was actually more like the end of last year when the Chase Sapphire Reserve appeared in my wallet…
It was about the time I was approved for the CSR when I read a post by Dan over on Points with a Crew, titled:
It was in that post that Dan mentions another option for redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards for Southwest flights –
Redeeming through the Chase Travel Portal!
I really never considered this as an option, but given the improvement provided by the CSR to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards for a 50% bonus (compared to 25% bonus with the Sapphire Preferred) within the Ultimate Reward travel portal – it was time to give it another look!
I have an upcoming Bachelor party out in Denver, Colorado and really would prefer to use my Chase Ultimate Rewards to cut down my Southwest airfare cost.
So we know the flight and the $345 in cash out of pocket, but let’s check out how the two point redemption options stack up!
Option 1: Transfer Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 Ratio
Southwest Airlines is a Chase Travel Partner, meaning your Ultimate Rewards can be transferred in 1,000 point increments (instantly) to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. Remember folks, Chase Ultimate Reward point transfers are one-way and cannot be undone!
That means our best course of action will be to research the flight on Southwest.com, determine the Rapid Reward points required for redemption, go back to Chase to make our CUR point transfer, and finally, book the flight back on Southwest.com!
Here is that same flight mentioned above, but in Rapid Rewards Points as the currency:
Option 2: Use the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal
For those of you that are unfamiliar, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Portal allows you to book travel using points based on the actual price of the airfare. Once you have selected your flights you can then redeem Chase Ultimate Reward points at the standard rate of .0125 for Chase Sapphire Preferred/Chase Ink cardholders, and .0150 for Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders.
AYP Tip – Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders – STOP HERE! That lower point redemption ratio is really going to hurt you in this option and I advise that you utilize Option 1 for all of your Southwest travel needs.
Chase Sapphire Reservers – follow me!
By now we have researched our desired flights and need to see what the CUR travel portal can do for us! So we log onto the CUR travel portal, search our origin, destination & dates and BAM!
Not seeing any Southwest flights in your results… huh?
Unfortunately the catch here is that you won’t be able to book Southwest flights directly through the online CUR travel portal…
But, you can use your flight search via Southwest.com from above and the standard point redemption values of 0.0125 (Sapphire Preferred) and 0.0150 (Sapphire Reserve) to estimate the Ultimate Rewards required for redemption! At a flight cost of $345.88, the Ultimate Rewards required for redemption should be 23,059.
Note that this will just be an estimate since Chase will NOT ALWAYS have access to the lowest fare Southwest ticket inventory. You will need to feed the flight information to the Chase phone agent at +1(855)234-2542 to verify the actual cost in points.
Once you have the determined the points required via the CUR travel portal – you can compare that total to your Option 1 search result above! Bit of an inconvenience to have to go through all this and then call and speak to an actual human…
Option 1 (21,587) VERSUS Option 2 (23,059) – Advantage – Transfer CUR to Rapid Rewards
A definitive winner? Not quite yet…
More things to consider:
The points comparison above represents the bulk of the consideration when deciding which option provides the best value, but there are a few other things to lump into the decision making process!
#1 Earning points for travel
Booking through the CUR travel portal will allow you to earn Rapid Rewards for your journey, whereas booking with Rapid Rewards points will not. This trip will earn over 1,700 Rapid Rewards – not huge, but should definitely be factored in! Plus, this trip will count towards your quest for the Companion Pass and A-List elite status!
Advantage – CUR Travel Portal
#2 Extra taxes and fees
Booking with Rapid Rewards will cover most of the ticket cost, but there is an additional $11.20 ($5.60 each way) in taxes imposed on all tickets booked on points. When booking through the CUR travel portal, the fees are already incorporated into the overall redemption.
Advantage – CUR Travel Portal
#3 And the most important in my opinion – Cancellation policies
If you book a Southwest flight using your Rapid Rewards points, you have the ability to cancel for a full point refund (and a refund of the taxes and fees) up to 10 minutes prior to departure! The Rapid Rewards pop straight back into your loyalty account with no set expiration and those taxes get refunded to your credit card.
Unfortunately, booking a Southwest flight via the CUR travel portal does not provide you with that same luxury. Southwest does not accept Chase Ultimate Rewards as payment for flights. Therefore, a Chase representative will instead book your reservation directly on the Southwest site with a corporate credit card, and then will deduct the required amount of Ultimate Rewards from your account.
If you cancel the Southwest flight you will not be refunded any points. Once the Ultimate Rewards are out of your account they are out for good. Any cancellation to your Southwest reservation booked via the CUR travel portal will instead follow the typical Southwest process and you will be provided a Southwest credit in the $ amount the ticket was purchased by Chase, valid within 1 year of the original booking.
Advantage – Transfer CUR to Rapid Rewards
Chase Ultimate Rewards are my favorite point currency! There are just so many different ways to use them. An award flight here, a hotel night there… If I have Ultimate Rewards I know that I have some serious free travel in my future due to the flexibility in redemption!
And can you use Chase Ultimate Rewards on Southwest? OF COURSE!
If it is convenience and hassle free cancellation you seek – book your Southwest flights using Option 1: Transfer Points to Southwest Rapid Rewards!
If you are looking for point earning potential, and elite status – book your Southwest flights using Option 2: The CUR Travel Portal!
Hope this helps all you fellow Chase cardholders and Southwest fans out there!