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If you’re traveling domestically, it’s hard to beat Southwest. They have a
straightforward loyalty program, 2 free checked bags per person, no change or cancellation fees, and frequently have great fare sales. And they have the best deal in travel – the Southwest Companion Pass!
The one downside to collecting Southwest points is they expire after 24 months. And unlike most other airlines’ miles, redeeming Southwest points will NOT reset the expiration date!
Million Mile Secret Agent Gerald tweeted:
I have 16,000 Southwest points earned via e-Rewards. Do Southwest points transferred from e-Rewards reset the 24-month expiration date? Or would you suggest signing up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, pay the $69 annual fee and then be able to redeem for gift cards?
You’re in luck, Gerald, because Southwest points transfers from e-Rewards will restart your 24-month expiration time period. And if you get the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card, any Southwest points you earn with it, including the sign-up bonus, will also reset your expiration date.
But redeeming for gift cards will NOT extend the life of your Southwest points. And there are some other things to consider, because getting gift cards might not be the best deal for your situation.
Southwest Points Expiration Policy
Southwest has one of the less generous point expiration rules. Your Southwest points expire after 24 months of inactivity. And redeeming Southwest points does NOT count as qualifying activity!
But you can keep your Southwest points alive with any activity that earns Southwest points. So transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards, e-Rewards, or hotels will all reset your expiration date. And it’s important to keep your Southwest points from expiring, because expired Southwest points can NOT be reinstated!
Don’t Forget About the Chase “5/24” Rule
If you’ve opened 5 or more new credit cards accounts from any bank within the past 24 months, you’re unlikely to be approved for most Chase cards, including the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card. But some small business cards won’t appear on your personal credit report. So they do NOT count toward your Chase “5/24” limit!
Also, while transfers keep your Southwest points alive, they won’t count toward earning a Southwest Companion Pass. But the sign-up bonus from the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card will count. Plus, any points you earn from your spending on the card will also get you closer to a Southwest Companion Pass.
Are Gift Cards Your Best Option?
Chase Southwest cardholders have access to Southwest’s More Rewards program. The More Rewards program allows you to redeem your Southwest points for events, merchandise, and gift cards. But this is generally NOT a good deal.
Southwest points are worth ~1.25 to ~1.43 cents per point toward paid airfare. But if you use your Southwest points for merchandise you’ll get much less value per point. For example, on a few items I saw it was ~0.5 cents per Southwest point.
Gift card redemptions are a bit better. You can get up to 1 cent per Southwest point for a variety of $50 and $100 gift cards.
So you’ll have to decide if this is a good deal for your situation. If you aren’t planning on traveling much, then getting gift cards might be a good choice.
But if you’re looking to get 1 cent per point to use for any expense, there are lots of great cash back cards that do not have an annual fee. So I wouldn’t recommend getting the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card just to be able to redeem your Southwest points for gift cards.
Southwest points expire after 24 months of inactivity. And redeeming Southwest points does NOT reset the expiration date!
Thankfully, there are lots of quick and easy ways to keep your Southwest points from disappearing for good. Any Southwest point earning activity will keep your points alive, including transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards, e-Rewards, and hotel programs.
If you get a Southwest credit card, like the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus card, you’ll have access to Southwest’s More Rewards program. More Rewards lets you redeem your Southwest points for merchandise and gift cards. But this is generally NOT a good deal, because you’ll get more value out of your Southwest points if you redeem them for award flights.