There are two reasons why I love flying with Southwest Airlines. Flights are cheap whether they’re paid with points or cash with Wanna Get Away fares and it’s easy to rack up points and earn the Companion Pass. Last week a WTM reader asked it if it possible to use Southwest Rapid rewards points to book hotels, so I though I would just go over the basics for redeems Rapid Rewards points for hotels, plus some benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
To redeem hotel stays using Rapid Rewards, you have to make your way to the More Rewards section under the Rapid Rewards tab. If you try to book stays from the regular hotel tab will only give you the option to view nightly cash rates and the Rapid Rewards points that could be earned per night. What I really like about the hotel options with Rapid Rewards is that I can choose from many hotel brands and often times even smaller privately owned hotels that offer a great value. This gives you the flexibility to redeem at non-chain hotels and also a wide variety of both luxury and a lower tier properties all over the world.
We’re currently in the works of planning a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico the week before Christmas, so I’ve been scoping out nightly rates with Rapid Rewards points. I wanted to compare the nightly rates if we were to use our Rapid Rewards or loyalty program associated with the hotel to make sure we're getting the better deal. There is also always the option to use Southwest Airline's reservation portal to earn points if we decide to pay for the reservation. Because we have the Southwest Companion Pass that allows Susan to fly for free until the end of 2014, it could be beneficial to rack up for future flights.
Chase is currently offering the 50,000 sign up with the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Card (OFFER EXPIRED).
Even if you don't have a need for domestic flights, this can be a valuable card bonus for simply redeeming them for hotel stays. I will note that you will generally not get as much value per point for hotel redemptions, but if that is the best use of the 50k points for you then you can consider that an option.
Here’s what I came up with for a stay during our trip:
Condado Lagoon Villas at Caribe Hilton
13,875 Rapid Rewards per night .76 cents per point (3 free nights with the 50k bonus)
50,000 Hilton Honors Points .21 cents per night
$99 per night
Condado Plaza by Hilton Conrad
14,000 Rapid Rewards pointsper night at .71 cents per point (3 free nights using the 50k welcome bonus)
50,000 Hilton Honors points at .20 cents per point
$99 per night
Courtyard by Marriott San Juan Miramar
12,875 Rapid Rewards points per night .77 cents per point (3 free nights using the 50k welcome bonus)
50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night .18 cents per point
$94 per night
La Concha Renaissance San Juan Resort
26,250 Rapid Rewards points per night at .72 per point (3 free nights using the 50k welcome bonus)
70,000 Marriott Rewards points per night at .27 per point
$189 per night
To make a reservation using your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points, you must have an account and be logged in. Unfortunately, you cannot transfer or combine points to different Rapid Rewards accounts to redeem stays or flights so stick to one account if you're traveling as a couple and plan to use your points to redeem hotel nights.
To redeem your points for hotel stays, remember, you must book through the Redeem at More Shopping and not the basic "Hotels" tab. The Hotel tab will only give you options for paid nights that you are able to earn points on. On Flyer Talk people have expressed concern about points not showing up after providing their Southwest Rapid Rewards number to the hotel, so make sure you follow-up after 6 weeks if your points still have not posted to your account.
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