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AMEX Membership Rewards Offers Southwest Credits!

I have The Gold Card from American Express [3] as my business credit card and have always had difficulty finding things to spend the points on. I’m not a huge fan of gift cards but fortunately AMEX doesn’t play the game of diluting point values at lower gift card prices. For example, Citi’s ThankYou Network turns 6,000 points into a $50 gift card, diluting the value of a point by a small percentage. $100 gift cards are 10,000 points though, giving you a true “penny a point” conversion. Anyway, with AMEX’s Membership Rewards I’ve just converted them into either Home Depot cards [4] or Roy’s Restaurant [5] cards (Roy’s is a Hawaiian fusion restaurant that my wife and I absolutely love).

LUV Gem in Membership Rewards Catalog

In browsing the site the other day, I discovered that you can convert AMEX Membership Reward points into Southwest Rapid Rewards (Frequent Flyer) points! Each SW point costs 1,500 AMEX points, plus a small excise tax. 16 SW points equals one free domestic flight, so it costs 24,000 AMEX points (plus $12 in fee) for a domestic flight. Compare that with any other major airline and you’ll find that the minimum point to free flight ratio is 25,000 plus ridiculous booking fees (not to mention luggage fees, food fees, headache fees). Another great aspect of this is that you don’t have to buy all 16 points at once. You simply enter in your frequent flyer number and the points are transferred over. If you are only a handful of points away from a free flight, just buy as many points as you need.

Value of Southwest Voucher

Is it worth it? Well, I’ve sold Southwest vouchers on eBay and Craigslist years ago for about $300 a piece. This was before you could extend the expiration date on the voucher ($50) but now I just keep them for my own travel (you also aren’t allowed to sell them, but I was in college and $300 goes a really long way!). With soaring fuel prices, the vouchers are worth anywhere from $350 to $400. The 24,000 points is worth $240 in gift cards so you’re really coming out ahead, even after adding in $12 of fee. This trumps any gift card by far.

Southwest Rules!

I’m a huge fan of Southwest Airlines and one of the reasons is because they the best frequent flyer program ever [6] (giving us free champagne on our flight [7] out to our honeymoon in Hawaii was awesome too!).

There’s a reason why Southwest’s profits jumped 11% whereas other airlines have been tanking. [Consumerist [8]]

(Photo by bracken [9])