On Thursday I wrote about the official return of the 50,000 point sign-up bonus on the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Visa Card. In the post I wrote the following:
While this is not an offer I will personally be taking advantage of (given that I prefer to earn and redeem miles for international premium cabins), I do think this is a great option for domestic travel, both for how generous the sign-up bonus is, and the 6,000 points you receive each anniversary which helps offset the annual fee.
I figured I’d first expand on this a bit, at least based on what my thought process was when I wrote the post. I’m often (wrongly) quick to dismiss cards that can’t get me towards premium cabin international travel, because ultimately that’s what I hope to get out of this “hobby.” Furthermore, it’s not that I don’t travel domestically, but rather that my domestic travel is heavily “committed” to both American and Alaska. I have top tier status to requalify for with both programs, so when traveling domestically I do everything I can to book on them. I’m happy to pay at least somewhat of a premium to fly either carrier, not just so I earn elite qualifying miles, but for the benefits I get when flying with them.
Most of my domestic travel is flexible, and if I can’t get there on Alaska or American I simply will go another time or will go somewhere else instead. But reader Andrew left a comment on the post that I thought was pretty insightful:
Lucky, while I understand and respect that you prefer to earn and redeem miles for international premium cabin travel (as do I!), I don’t find that to be a compelling reason for you to say you won’t be taking advantage of this offer.
Wouldn’t it have been great to have these points in your back pocket last year when you were trying to get to Chicago for the Frequent Traveler University and revenue tickets were through the roof? I know you ended up doing your “fly around the world to Chicago” trip (and we appreciate the subsequent reports from that!), but I can’t imagine an option like that is always going to be feasible, or always something that you’re going to want to do. In any case, you could’ve traveled to Chicago for free instead of paying the ~$1000 that you shelled out for that trip. I know that in our world, $1000 was a crazy good value for what you got out of that trip, but in absolute terms, you still spent $1000 to get to Chicago when you could’ve spent $10 (or whatever the taxes/fees are on a WN ticket booked with points). Putting relative value aside, sometimes free is free, right?
Or, wouldn’t it be great to have these points on hand for a random trip to visit your parents? It’s not like you have trouble requalifying for EXP/MVP Gold 75k, etc, so it seems like the opportunity cost here is pretty low (a couple thousand redeemable miles, perhaps).
Or better yet, sign up for the credit card, but use the points to book a ticket for your parents to fly to Seattle and visit you! You don’t have to fly WN, they get a free ticket, you guys get to see each other, and everybody wins!
Anyway, just my two cents!
Usually I’d like to think that I’ve at least put a little bit of thought into my “position” on things, but Andrew kind of left my speechless with that argument. I really can’t argue with that. At the end of the day 50,000 Rapid Rewards points gets you ~$833 worth of airfare if booked before March 31, 2014, while starting March 31, 2014, it’ll be enough for ~$714 worth of airfare. I’ve applied for most of the super-lucrative credit cards out there, so even factoring in the $99 annual fee and the upcoming devaluation, this bonus is worth $600+, which is tough to argue with. And since Rapid Rewards points don’t expire as long as you have any activity every 24 months, it’s not like there’s any rush to redeem them.
Lastly, all of this isn’t even factoring in the Companion Pass that Southwest offers when you rack up 110,000 points in a year, whereby a companion can fly with you for free. I doubt I’ll get to that point, though that’s an even more compelling value.
So yeah, Andrew definitely changed my position on this card. I’ll be applying later this week during my next round of credit card applications.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I earn a referral bonus for anyone approved through the above link. Thanks for your support!)