How Much Are Rapid Rewards and The Companion Pass Worth?

The first thing to remember about valuing points is that there are very few times when valuations are absolute. The value of points for any given reward program usually depends on how, when, and where the individual will be redeeming those points. So I’m going to explain how I value Southwest Rapid Rewards and how much value they bring to me with the Southwest Companion Pass.

Southwest Airlines at LAX
Photo by James A. Castañeda

The starting point

I first figure out my future redemptions. I start with those flights that I’m certain to redeem and then factor in others that I’m planning on redeeming sometime in the near future. I think figuring out the redemption for 3-4 potential flights should be sufficient, but you could always play around with more numbers. 

It’s important to remember to be realistic when doing this.

You might be tempted to “plan” for those super cheap flights that depart very early in the morning or arrive very late at night but when push comes to shove are you really going to book those? Or how about layovers, are you willing to deal with those? The other thing to think about is your availability, can you really take off on all those four day weekends or book those mid-week flights?

Personally, I have three things going for me that have made it easier for me to realistically plan on booking flights that have less desirable departures, arrivals, and lay-overs. These might be helpful things for you to consider when planning future flights. 

1) Willingness to fly early or late

I don’t have problems with flying late or early, mostly because I live about 15-20 minutes from the airport so departing early or arriving a little later in the evening isn’t much of a problem. Obviously, relocating your home isn’t an option for most, but just consider how truly open you are to arriving at the airport at 4:45am or touching down at 9:55pm on a Sunday. Just because those fares are the cheapest doesn’t mean you’ll actually go for them when it comes time to book. 

2) Lounge access

I have lounge access through the American Express Platinum Card and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card so lay overs don’t bother me much and I kind of look forward to experiencing  new lounges when possible. I’ve since found that being open to lay-overs now makes travel planning much less of a headache — don’t underestimate the convenience of a nice airport lounge!

United Club Lounge in Houston

3) Flexible work schedule

Third, and most importantly,  I have the luxury of having a pretty flexible work schedule so I can take off just about whenever I want so it does make things easier.

Now, I still have to remember to be realistic about taking mid-week flights and not eating up too much time on lay overs, but being realistic about these have helped me make accurate estimations on what future flights I’ll actually take on future trips.

Finding the average points redemption from Houston

Below are four trips that I’m likely to take within the next 12 months on Southwest and their corresponding rates. You can see their actual cash price, their Rapid Rewards price, and then what the redemption rates comes out to.  

Houston Skyline
Southwest has many direct flights out of Houston (HOU)

HOU to OAK (Oakland)

  • $404 round trip
  • 24,468 Rapid Rewards + $11.20 in fees

$404 – $11.20 = $392.80

$392.80 / 24,468 = 1.6 cents per point.

San Francisco

HOU to MBJ (Jamaica)

  • $404.76 roundtrip
  • 17,500 Rapid Rewards + $114.66 in fees

$404.76  – $114.66 = $290.10

$290.10 / 17,500 = 1.6 cents per point.

Jamaica - Waiting customers for fishing !
Photo by Leonidas Konstantinidis

HOU to MDW (Chicago)

  • $332.95 roundtrip
  • 21,584 Rapid Rewards + $11.20 in fees

$332.95 – $11.20 = $321.75

$321.75 / 21,584 = 1.4 cents per point 

Summer in Chicago
Photo by Antony Caldaroni

HOU to CUN (Cancun)

  • $459.70 roundtrip
  • 24,998  Rapid Rewards +$74.10 in fees

$459.70 – $74.10 = $385.60

$385.60 / 24,998 = 1.5 cents per point

Cancun Strand Luftbild
Photo by f. ermert

So the redemption rates for the four trips are as follows:

  • 1.6
  • 1.6
  • 1.4
  • 1.5

That brings the overall redemption rate average to 1.525 cents per point. This is pretty standard for Southwest but keep in mind that your average redemption rate for Southwest flights could be a little higher or lower.

How much is the Southwest Companion Pass worth?

In obtaining the Southwest companion pass I have  accumulated a little over 110,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards.  That means I can value the pass at $1,677.5 since 110,000 X .01525 = $1,677.5.

However, since Brad and I fly together on every flight we ever redeem that value is instantly doubled since he flies for free. So that’s $3,355 worth of value at 3 cents per point.

And just to play it conservatively, I’ll deduct the two annual fees I have to pay of $99, so the grand total of value of the Southwest Companion Pass for me is $3,157 as a value of 3 cents per point for Rapid Rewards. 

Getting that dollar amount of travel for free is great but with Southwest it’s more about the quantity of experiences. Being able to travel to Cancun, Jamaica, Chicago, the San Francisco Bay Area, and still another destination yet to be determined is amazing and I’d take those multitude of experiences over one first class redemption worth $3,000 in travel almost any day.

 Cover Photo by Pieter van Marion





Can You Put Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Reward Seats on Hold?

Singapore Airlines offers some of the most luxurious business and first class redemptions out of any airline. It’s really great because it’s a transfer member of all three major rewards programs and even SPG, so it’s extremely easy to accumulate KrisFlyer miles in a hurry.

The only problem is that finding reward seat availability — especially for saver awards — can be an issue. This problem is compounded by the fact that point transfers from major rewards programs like Citi Thankyou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and Chase Ultimate Rewards are not instant and can take several days to arrive in your KrisFlyer account. Thus, there’s always a possibility that the reward seats will no longer be available by the time your points make it to your KrisFlyer account and then you’re just stuck with KrisFlyer points and praying for seats to open up.

The way to deal with this scenario is to put your reservation on hold. Unfortunately, there’s some confusion about whether or not Singapore Airlines allows you to put reservations on hold. This article is meant to clear up some of the confusion.

Singapore Airlines logo with text

Singapore Airlines allows you to put reservations on hold

First, despite what some article might state, you absolutely can put reservations on hold. I’ve done this on two occasions. I’m not aware of any way to do it online so I’ve just called in to the Singapore airlines U.S. number and requested to put a reservation on hold.

Here’s where it get’s a little unclear.

Some sources say that you need to have at least 50% of the miles needed to book your trip in order to put a reservation on hold. But again, this is not a hard and fast rule. I recently put a flight requiring 80,000 KrisFlyer miles on hold with only about 27,000 miles in my account! Thus, it might be KrisFlyer’s policy to require 50% of the needed miles, but that rule is not-hard coded into KrisFlyer’s booking system based on my personal experience.

Strategy for putting KrisFlyer seats on hold

So you can: 1) put seats on hold and 2) potentially do so with less than 50% of the required miles. Great. The only problem is that if you book a reservation that was put on hold you lose out on the 15% online booking discount. In my latest case, I would have lost 12,000 points in savings by not booking online.

The solution to this problem

Request the 15% discount to be applied to be your booking. A KrisFlyer representative, on her own volition, told me that she would notate my booking with a note to apply the 15% online booking discount but there was no guarantee.

This was a nice gesture but it meant that I didn’t have a 100% answer on if I should transfer points to my KrisFlyer account to meet the 80,000 total or the discounted total of 68,000. Having 12,000 points potentially in limbo didn’t sound desirable to me, especially since KrisFlyer points expire.

My solution to this is to just transfer the amount of points needed for the discounted booking and try to get the representatives on board to apply the discount. If they won’t do it, then just hang up and call again (HUCA) and try multiple times if you have to. So in this case, I would have transferred enough points to meet 68,000 and then held off on transferring the remaining points until I had failed multiple times with getting representatives to apply the discount.

Luckily, we found some availability online so we were able to circumvent booking over the phone and cancel our hold, but I definitely would have tried my luck with getting that 15% discount applied to my booking had reward seats not opened up.



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