Now that Southwest and Airtran let you link accounts, Milevalue has a a rundown of when it makes sense to use your points to redeem through Southwest and when it makes sense to redeem through Airtran.
Roughly speaking, cheap tickets redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points, expensive tickets redeem credits.
19,200 Rapid Rewards points are worth $324, so if you can find two oneways on either airline that cost more than that, you can profit from transferring.
In today’s environment of sky high fares, finding a roundtrip or two oneways that cost more than that is pretty easy, especially since Airtran flies internationally to Mexico and the Caribbean.
Let’s go through some examples to show how to determine whether you can exploit the transfer options.
LAX-MDW-LAX for the dates I want costs $408, and I value it at that price because I need to get to Chicago, and there are no cheaper options. In Rapid Rewards points it costs 23,160 and $5. This is a prime example of a fare where exploiting the transfer options saves money!
Instead of paying cash or 23,160 points, I can transfer 19,200 Rapid Rewards points to A+ credits. The transfer is instantaneous. I can then immediately transfer 16 A+ credits to 16 Rapid Rewards credits. After that instantaneous transfer, I now have two free oneways on Southwest that I can use to fly LAX-MDW-LAX for just the same $5 in taxes.
So I got an itinerary for 19,200 Rapid Rewards points that should have cost me 23,160 Rapid Rewards points. Exploiting the transfers saved 3,960 Rapid Rewards points with a value of $63.54! Awesome!
Here’s an easy example of when not to transfer. I want to fly LAX-LAS-LAX, and the flights I want cost $114 or 5,520 Rapid Rewards points and $5. Transferring 19,200 Rapid Rewards points to 16 A+ Credits to 16 Rapid Rewards credits would be folly. Instead I would just book with 5,520 points and $5.
While the transfer options exist, you never need to spend more than 19,200 Southwest points on a roundtrip award.