Ultimate Rewards Alert: Points Soon to Transfer to Southwest Rapid Rewards

Ultimate Rewards has been positioning itself as a serious competitor to the American Express Membership Rewards program (or is AMEX now the competitor?).

I thought this post would be a good follow up to Monday’s post where I introduced the Rapid Rewards Program.

When I wrote about how Ultimate Rewards are gaining on Membership Rewards, I mentioned that Ultimate Rewards is expanding.

It is now being reported that Ultimate Rewards points will start transferring (1:1) to Rapid Rewards as of January 5th, 2012.

That’s great news for all the frugal travelers out there.

Let’s say you want to fly from New York to Miami.

Here’s a list of your viable options with Ultimate Rewards.

  1. Depending on the cost to purchase airfare, you can use the points and book through the Ultimate Rewards booking portal.  If the tickets cost $250, you’d need about 18,750 UR points.
  2. Since there are direct flights on American between New York and Miami, you could transfer the points to British Airways and get the tickets for 15,000 UR points.
  3. If you were having trouble with either of the options above, you could transfer the points to United or Continental and use 25,000 UR points (not a good idea).
  4. If Southwest had a great fare sale on, say, $59 each way Wanna Get Away fares, you could snag that ticket for 7080 UR points.

Personally, I think this is a major boost to the Ultimate Rewards program.  Of course, if you’re not big fan of Southwest, this is not a big deal.

As I explain in my post on how to get the most value out of Southwest points, it is possible to really stretch Southwest points if you’re really willing to do early booking and smart searching.

Let’s say a person were to pick up the Southwest Business and Southwest Personal cards using one of the few lingering 50,000 Rapid Reward points offers.  They’d pick up 100,000 Rapid Rewards points.  Then, throughout the year they picked up the Chase Sapphire Preferred (50,000 bonus) and the Chase Ink Bold (50,000 bonus).

That person could feasibly earn 200,000 Rapid Rewards points in a year!

That’s $3333.33 worth of travel for four credit cards (not saying you’re likely to be able to get two Southwest cards [biz and personal] at the same time, but I did.  Your miles may vary).

How about we make the offer even sweeter?

Since the Rapid Rewards points awarded through the Southwest card can count towards a companion pass, you’ll be at 100,000 of 110,000 miles needed for a companion pass.  Simply find a way to get an extra 10,000 qualifying miles, and for the rest of that year and the next year you’ll get to take a person with you for free every time you fly (you pay $5 each way for Sept 11th fee).

Yes, that even applies when you use Rapid Rewards points to make your booking.

If in that time period you managed to use your $3,333.33 worth of travel and take a companion with you, then it would be like $6,666.66 worth of travel.

Amazing.

Anyway, all in all, some great news from Ultimate Rewards.

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