Rapid Rewards is Southwest Airline’s frequent flyer loyalty program. I’ve never flown Southwest. I live in the northeast which, if my compass is correct, is in directly the opposite direction. Bad jokes aside, my local airports are not heavily served by the airline and for whatever reason, it’s just never worked out.
Since I’ve never flown Southwest, it would stand to reason that I don’t have a Rapid Rewards account. A couple days ago, I realized that’s not true. Not only do I have an account, I have 3,500 Rapid Rewards points in it. How did I find out? Well, I received this email:
I have no recollection of how I earned 3500 points nearly 2 years ago, but there they are, ready to expire. My first thought was to just let them die. I didn’t know I had them and with no plans to fly Southwest in the future, I may never use them. So why not let them expire? Because I’m a miles and points geek, that’s why!
What can I do with 3,500 Rapid Rewards points?
There’s plenty that’s been written on the earning and redemption structure of Rapid Rewards points and the valuable Southwest Companion Pass. I won’t get into that here. Typically, each Rapid Rewards point is worth about 1.4 cents towards Southwest flights. That makes my 3500 points worth about $49, which is at the very least worth my attention.
One option would be to transfer the minimum 1000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my Rapid Rewards account. This would bring my total to 4,500 Rapid Rewards points, but more importantly, the activity would extend the expiration of my points for 2 years. Then, in early 2020 I could write another blog post wondering what to do with my 4,500 RR points.
At that point it dawned on me. Two simple little words: Gift Cards! Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for gift cards to various retailers–including Amazon. That’s like cash to me. Here are my options:
The image on the left tells me I can redeem 3,000 points for a $25 gift card. That’s 0.83 cents for each point I didn’t even know I had. I could live with that if it wasn’t for the image on the right mocking me. If I had another 1,500 points, I could get a $50 gift card instead–an extra $25! So I carry on.
Revisiting the Chase option, Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to my Rapid Rewards in 1,000 point increments and I only need 1,500. I suppose I can transfer 2,000 UR points, but to me, those 2,000 points are worth more than the extra $25 I’m doing this for. I need a better way.
Then I remembered seeing this:
I had already begun doing my daughter’s returns in the free online version of TurboTax Absolute Zero, but I hadn’t filed them yet. Do I still have time? Is the free version eligible for the bonus points? The answer to both questions is YES.
I returned to TurboTax via the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal and filed her returns. A few days later, I saw 1,000 additional points pending in my account. Only 500 more to go.
At this point, I’ll probably transfer 1,000 Chase UR to get me over 5,000 Rapid Rewards points. The cost/benefit of transferring 1,000 UR is in my favor, while 2,000 UR wasn’t.
In addition to my $50 Amazon gift card, this will leave me with 500 leftover Rapid Rewards points and a fresh 2 year expiration. Keep your eyes open for a “How I Monetized my 500 RR Points” blog post in early 2020.