Some of you may remember how I recently booked Southwest flights for my in-laws’ cruise from Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the return flight will occur during peak period, so the tickets were quite expensive. Flying to San Juan would cost only 6,000 points per person, but San Juan-Tampa portion was running at 16,600 points.
Quite a difference, but there was no better alternative, so I booked it. The return flight would have a connection in Fort Lauderdale, but my in-laws didn’t seem to mind. Strangely, direct flight to Tampa wasn’t even available for sale. And the most annoying thing: my account was 35 Rapid Rewards points short. Yes, 35!
I suppose I could have called and beg Southwest employee to add points as a courtesy, but I just wasn’t in the obnoxious state of mind at the time. So, I went ahead and transferred 1,000 UR points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve and booked the flights. My SIL’s ticket was reserved via my husband’s account.
As it goes with any Southwest booking, I checked on it periodically to see if the price would go down, and most importantly, whether direct route would open up. Well, I was successful with the latter. Direct flight has eventually surfaced, but it was slightly more expensive.
How much more? Exactly 1,000 Rapid Rewards points for both of the tickets on the reservation. Yep, I was once again 35 points’ short. I’m kidding you not. But getting direct flights was most definitely worth a tiny premium in cost, so I transferred 1,000 points from my UR account. Again. Hey, writing this has reminded me of “Forrest Gump” movie. Remember the part where he says: “And I met the president of the United States. Again.”
Anyway, I kept on checking since then, but the price would not budge. However, I was putting in three passengers, so I changed it to one. Sure enough, booking one ticket would save me 3,000 points. I went ahead and cancelled my SIL’s reservation and rebooked it at a lower price. As I’ve mentioned before, Southwest has amended the rules recently, and changing the reservation will now make it non-refundable.
So cancel it whenever possible. You may also want to read my post Be aware of these quirks when rebooking Southwest flights
Slight hesitation with canceling my CSR card
I was once again reminded of how nice it is to have transferrable UR currency on hand. Sure, I hate the fact that I now have 965 Rapid Rewards points just sitting in my account and doing nothing. It’s a puny number that is unlikely to be utilized any time soon. I can’t get Southwest credit cards due to 5/24 restriction, and applying for Chase Sapphire Preferred via pre-approval in branch is iffy at best. But transferring from Chase definitely beats buying 1,000 Rapid Rewards points for $25.
That being said, renewing CSR and paying an annual fee with my level of non-bonus spending seems downright ridiculous. I only have 3,000 UR points left and will probably dump them to Hyatt. I don’t think transferring to Southwest is the wisest idea because I’m not sure I’ll be able to utilize 4,000 points either. I’ve seen flights from Orlando to Jamaica go for that amount, but we are not going to Jamaica anytime soon.
Friends, I’m having a hard time parting with my Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’m a UR points addict. I do have Chase Freedom, which would provide extra points here and there. But I’m not a diligent 5% category maximizer. I mostly chase sign-up bonuses. Ironically, the main reason I was even debating on renewing CSR is due to lounge access. I know, I’m a total hypocrite. But we should have a ton of flights coming up next summer, so Priority Pass may come in handy. But then again, it may not.
Besides, I’m thinking about applying for US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa in my husband’s name. If approved, the next annual fee won’t hit till next August, and our trip will be over by then. Kids have to go back to school. The card is stingy when it comes to lounge access, providing four free Priority Pass visits per year, including one companion. But that’s probably all we need. In fact, we may not even utilize those.
Additionally, both my husband and I will be eligible for sign-up bonus on Citi Prestige next June. It too comes with Priority Pass access. Right now it seems fairly likely that by next July we’ll have lounge access one way or another. Plus, there is one more option. If my husband doesn’t get approved for Altitude Reserve, I could renew my US Bank Altitude Reserve next May. Sure, it would cost me $400, but you get $325 travel credit (on hotels, cruises, airlines and car rentals) per cardmember year. Due to all of my upcoming travel plans, this credit is almost as good as cash.
Hmm, $75 for four visits to Priority Pass lounge for my husband and me? That doesn’t seem so bad, yet I’m inclined to pass because I don’t like to prepay this perk ahead of time. Plans can change, flights may get delayed etc. Isn’t it crazy? Here I was, thinking about paying double that amount with CSR ($450 annual fee-$300 credit).
Oh sure, CSR gives unlimited number of airline lounge visits and covers the whole family. It sounds better on paper. But we will probably ONLY need four visits, if that, and won’t have kids with us. I don’t care if CSR pays for a thousand visits, it means nothing it me.
Honestly, I would never apply for a new card primarily for this perk, but renewing one when you have concrete travel plans is a bit different. Still, I don’t see how it makes sense to do so with CSR. I plan to buy my own travel insurance for this trip and don’t have a need for primary insurance on car rentals.
Maybe if I had a ton of UR points and needed to burn them at 1.5 cents apiece on travel, or transfer them to airline partners in a near future. But for 3.000 points and potentially 10,000 more (max) from 5% Freedom categories over the next year? Let’s say we do that and redeem 13,000 points towards $195 in travel value. We would still have a deficit of $85 ($150-$65). Not to mention, by redeeming points via UR portal, I would have to forego using whatever other currencies I had at the time.
Sure, we may get a few airport lounge visits out of CSR. But I just don’t see the value. Not in several alcoholic drinks and few snacks. I can buy a lot of food for $85, and hanging out in airport terminal is not a deal breaker. Plus, we probably won’t need to anyway, due to having another card that grants lounge access. See my post Renew vs. downgrade CSR guide for an average Joe
I’m thinking Nay. Scratch that, definitely Nay. And that’s all I have to say about that.
Readers, are you having your own CSR renewal dilemma? Share your thoughts.
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.