Southwest Airlines Points Will Become Worth Less On January 1

Southwest Airlines will devalue its points by about 4% on January 1, 2024. The Rapid Rewards program announced several changes a month ago to much fanfare, but this one they buried.

They last devalued their points two years ago, during the pandemic right after letting people convert their travel credits to points. Oops. After its historic operational meltdown a year ago the airline gave points to passengers. Their apology for last Christmas will be worth 4% less for anyone saving their points.

With this change Southwest will have devalued about 43% in 12 years since launching ‘Rapid Rewards 2.0’. And there’s really no good reason to devalue their points other than greed. Currently each point is worth around 1.2 cents apiece towards base airfare, or closer to 1.4 cents when factoring taxes saved.

  • Southwest’s program is revenue-based. You earn a rebate on your ticket purchases and credit card spend.

  • When the price of a ticket goes up, Southwest automatically requires more points. They do not need to adjust the program or your points value to account for this. Broader inflation doesn’t affect the Southwest program.

Southwest should be shamed for this. The last time Southwest devalued, they actually had Delta throwing shade at them.

If you have any potential award travel to book on Southwest Airlines, you’ll want to do it before the end of the year.

  • Your points will be worth more if you book future travel by December 31.
  • It’s fine to book speculative travel, there’s no fee to cancel bookings and redeposit points.
  • And if fares drop enough to offset the devaluation after you’ve booked, you can always cancel your award ticket and rebook for savings.

There’s little downside to redeeming your Southwest points now, before the January 1 4% devaluation, and you may come out ahead. At least they’ve given some advance notice.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. The points game is just like the rest of the airline industry. Advertise what you are going to get and then make what you actually get as less. In a lot of industries it would be considered as false advertising.

  2. Realize now there was a space between worth and less. Ignore my comment, I just don’t know how to delete it.

  3. Let’s have some fun at the bastards expense.
    Book their highest cost routes full then cancel 30 min before takeoff- oops what was I thinking?
    All is fair when dealing with slimy and greedy businesses.
    SWA is just another third world bus service that takes 6-10 hours and 2 stops to fly 500 miles.

  4. They like all the other airlines. I just upgraded my last 13,000 points for business class. Why not?

  5. Southwest obviously has offered more value (for the last 30 years that I’ve traveled) than any other airline.

Comments are closed.