Last Chance: Convert Southwest Travel Funds to Rapid Rewards Points (And Why You Should) Last Chance: Convert Southwest Travel Funds to Rapid Rewards Points (And Why You Should)

Last Chance: Convert Southwest Travel Funds to Rapid Rewards Points (And Why You Should)

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In April, Southwest published a boatload of new program updates in response to COVID-19. The most notable of these included Companion Pass extensions, travel fund extensions, and lowered elite status qualifications. Interestingly, Southwest also promised a new ability to convert Southwest travel funds into Rapid Rewards points.

At the time, the details were pretty slim. We didn't know when this ability would start, which vouchers would qualify, and (most importantly) what conversion ratio Southwest would offer. Now, we have answers! It appears that the ability to convert Southwest Travel Funds into Rapid Rewards points is now live.


Offer Terms

  • Convert Southwest travel funds to Rapid Rewards points now through December 15, 2020
  • Travel funds must have an expiration date of September 7, 2022
  • The name on Rapid Rewards account must match the travel fund exactly
  • To qualify, funds need to have originated from a ticket purchased from, booked by a Southwest Airlines Customer Service Agent, or approved by your employer
  • Rapid Rewards points can't be used to pay for taxes and fees

To access this new ability, start by logging in to your Rapid Rewards account. You'll see the “My Travel Funds” banner at the top of the screen. You can convert your travel funds by clicking “View Travel Funds”. In case you haven't already saved your travel funds to your account, you can also use this section to look up your unused travel funds.

Southwest Travel Funds Conversion Rate

For each dollar on a qualifying travel voucher, you receive 78 Rapid Rewards points. This ratio falls in line with the redemption values we usually see from Southwest of between 1.3–1.4¢ per point.

Take the voucher pictured below:

Convert $180.98 in Southwest travel funds to 14,116 Rapid Rewards points

Converting this $180.98 voucher results in 14,116 Rapid Rewards points, equivalent to “buying” points for 1.28¢ each. That's a great deal for your stranded funds!

Is it a good idea to convert Southwest travel funds?

In a word: yes.

Southwest travel funds are created when you cancel a “Wanna Get Away” fare. The upside is they allow you to retain the value from your booking, even after canceling. The downside is they come with some limitations that can make their use difficult:

  • Travel funds (normally) expire one year after the original travel date.
  • You can only use travel funds for the original traveler.

On the other hand, Rapid Rewards points never expire and can be used to book travel for anyone. This flexibility makes points more valuable than travel funds for most travelers.

The lucrative conversion ratio only serves to strengthen the argument further. Given that Southwest locks the redemption value of Rapid Rewards points between 1.3–1.4¢ each, buying them for 1.28¢ represents a modest discount.

One reason you might not want to convert Southwest travel funds

The one exception I can think of is if you're chasing Southwest elite status. Using a travel fund is like making a cash booking. By that, I mean your flight will count towards elite status and companion pass qualification. Booking travel with Rapid Rewards points, however, does not. So, if you're trying to earn A-List or A-List Preferred status, you may want to keep your Southwest travel funds.

Related Post: Southwest makes earning A-List and A-List Preferred status easier in 2020

Other Implications

This new system creates numerous interesting opportunities, which lead to some exciting (and perhaps troubling) implications:

Buy Southwest points for 1.28¢ each

All travel funds created through September 7, 2020 are eligible for this conversion. Hypothetically, you could book a trip with cash, cancel the trip (creating a travel fund), and subsequently convert it to points. That effectively allows anyone to buy Southwest points for 1.28¢ a piece.

“Pseudo-transfer Bonus”

Using a flexible point currency (like Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi ThankYou points) to book Southwest travel could result in a pseudo-transfer bonus situation. For example, if you hold a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, your URs are worth 1.5¢ each through the Chase Travel Portal. Consequently, you could book a $200 Southwest flight (via phone agent) for 13,333 URs.

If you cancel this ticket for a $200 travel fund, you could exchange the fund for 15,600 Rapid Rewards points. Voila! A 17% Chase-to-Southwest “transfer bonus”… sorta. Booking Southwest flights with Ultimate Rewards points requires calling in, so it's not going to be an easy process. But it's interesting to think about.

Breakage and Devaluation(?)

Rapid Rewards points and Southwest Travel Funds are both financial liabilities for the airline. However, travel funds can expire unused. This is called breakage, and it's obviously very beneficial for Southwest. On the other hand, points never expire. So, there's far less breakage.

Airlines are already struggling, and Southwest is no exception. This conversion tool could put even more of a pinch on the airline. Under normal circumstances (what is “normal” again?), situations like this tend to foreshadow program devaluations. So, it's possible that we might see Southwest lower the fixed value of Rapid Rewards points in 2021.

Bottom Line

Rapid Rewards members can now convert Southwest travel funds to points at a rate of 78 points per dollar. Not only is this a lucky break for folks holding these funds, but it also opens an opportunity for everyone else. If you have Southwest travel funds expiring on September 7, 2022, you ought to think seriously about converting them to points. And you only have until December 15, 2020 to decide.

Do you plan to convert your Southwest travel funds to Rapid Rewards points?

5 / 5 - (7 votes)
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  • As is the usual case, there is a big possibility of devaluation of the program so its best to use your points as soon as possible.

  • sounds like a good idea

  • Great tip. If you don’t have travel funds expiring immediately, you can until closer to the December 15, 2020 deadline to convert.

  • Another disadvantage is that you need to have enough points in your RR account to book a ticket if you’re using points. If you’re using travel funds, by contrast, you can supplement with a credit card.

  • Sweet – just converted an $88 ticket I had no plans on using. thanks!

  • I got a email to convert my funds to points. thanks for this very informative post, i will convert mines and redeem it when things go back to normal.

  • This is really nice of Southwest to allow for the conversion. Do you think it is worth it to buy a flight and cancel to travel funds for the points? Or is it likely that a devaluation is coming? Thanks for thinking outside the box on the possible bonus.

  • I have a travel fund that expires 1/2/21 and I just checked they didn’t extend the date. Could I use this to buy a ticket , cancel it and then get the new expiration, so I can turn it into reward points?

    • You’ll need to wait a few days for the expiration date to update to September 7, 2022 before you’ll be able to convert the funds to points.

      • Thank You so much, for your answer and this post, both really helped me. I used the old funds to buy a new ticket. I cancelled it the next day. The funds now have the Sept 2022 expiration date tied to the new ticket’s confirmation number and I can convert.

  • I am pretty sure this is the case, but still asking. Can one transfer Travel Funds multiple times before the 15 Dec deadline (vs having to do so all at one time and then not available afterward). So can transfer as the need arises?

    • Interesting. I haven’t seen anything that indicates that it’s a one-time option. For the Travel Funds I have, I have the opportunity to convert each one individually – not as a group. So, I’m fairly confident that you can convert multiple funds.

  • B1BomberVB says:

    Air Canada started doing this in May. Now I wish that Alaska Airlines would follow suit, because I’ve been finagling since 2017 to keep a $190 credit alive. Trouble is, I live on the US East Coast, and the only place to which they fly from my hometown is Seattle, where I rarely go!

  • Thank you for the post. I don’t see any reason to rush in to convert the points now and consider it again a few days before the conversion deadline. I’d rather keep my travel funds in the account since they don’t expire until September 7, 2022. These funds worth more than points now.

  • This is great, these type of moves will help keep SW afloat and stock prices back to pre covid.