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A Reluctant Goodbye to CSR, and My Southwest Flight Rebooking Woes

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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Author: Leana

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.

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29 thoughts on “A Reluctant Goodbye to CSR, and My Southwest Flight Rebooking Woes

  1. Same here. I have many UR points waiting to be burned. But can’t justify AF for CSR. I plan to ransfer UR poins from CSR to Ink plus before canceling CSR. I know I should be eligible for CSP. I will risk it and apply.

    • Sam, I need to drive to Chase branch at some point and see if I’m pre-approved for CSP. We live an hour away, so making time for it is problematic when you have kids. Plus, I really want to apply for Hyatt card in a near future, so .I can start the clock on annual renewal certificates. Decisions, decisions…
      I won’t have a premium Chase card once I cancel CSR, but I don’t really have a huge stash of UR points to worry about. If I did, I would be seriously tempted to renew, in order to take advantage of 1.5 cents per point redemption rate on travel. To me, this is the most lucrative option, and better than mileage or hotel transfers.

    • I’ve been looking at and come to the conclusion that CSR is actually only a $55 annual fee card. Having a premium Chase card is a necessity for me living and flying out of IAH and HOU. I can cover both UA and SW with points as well as Hyatt and the occasional top off of Marriott. Not to mention booking at 1.25 cents minimum with a premium Chase card.

      So for $55, I get an extra .25 cents per point booking through the Chase website, an extra point per dollar spend on travel and dining and Priority Pass. That to me is worth it. Also since there’s no way I can get anymore UR cards probably ever unless something significant changes, I don’t have a whole lot of choice. I either renew or have to go to a new strategy for everyday usage. Right now most spend goes on CFU which then gets transferred to CSR for 2.25 points per dollar used through the Chase website or the ability to transfer points.

      So to me, I don’t like the idea of paying $450 AF but its only really $150 AF after travel credit which gets used very quickly as a reimbursable expense. And then I need an UR earning card which is a minimum of $95 per year. This is only $55 extra per year. That’s how I make my peace with it.

      • @Blake You are the ideal candidate for renewing CSR, and I totally understand your reasoning. Compared to CSP, it’s only $55 up-charge in annual fee, and you get a ton of extra perks thrown in. So why not just invest a little more to begin with? Because annual fees are just that: an investment with the expectation of getting a nice return for your $.
        Just a few lounge visits with family will help one recoup $55 in value. So yes, I can see why you plan on keeping it.

      • I already have Ink plus to transfer points. So I already paid $95 for that card. Now it’s time for me to eat up $450 for CSR. And I don’t find it’s worth doing that. Hence, it’s clear that I have to cancel this card. I do have huge stash of UR points that will sit on Ink plus card for a while, until I get another CSP. It’s been over 2 years since I got CSP.

      • @Blake that’s how I rationalized the $450 AF on CSR. I earned 10,000 UR points just last month between travel & dining (it’s unusual that we had such a high month, but it does happen every once in a while) so we’ll be keeping the card. My hubby has the Chase Freedom, and he uses it for everything since I’m not willing to shell out another $75 for an additional user.

    • @Sam That’s a good point. If you plan on paying $95 for Ink Plus anyway (and many do for 5% on office supply stores), then the true cost is $150. A bit more actually, because it’s not exactly fair to to assign face value to $300 travel credit. For those debating between CSP and CSR, it’s a matter of $55 difference. A small premium to pay for all the perks that come with it.

  2. I’m unsure what to do with my Reserves and UR points too! We have two Reserves. Mine will be cancelled for sure. We have 280k in UR points saved up. I have the Fairmont card turning into a sapphire preferred soon with no fee until Feb. Maybe I should just cancel both Reserves but then I only get 1.25 on travel until Feb. when I have to decided on the Preferred renewal. I also have the citi prestige renewal coming up. There is 65k points on that card. Did I read I have to use them within 30 days of canceling? And canceling resets the citi clock? The travel delay on the prestige is awesome after a four hour delay we changed our flight to the next day and citi paid for our hotel. I also have the renewal coming up on my flexperks that I have been paying for years. I have 60k sitting there. Can I get the new US bank reserve and transfer them? 1.5 travel would be good enough for me since we only fly once a year and I have airline points. I think I spent too much time collecting and maintaining and not enough time using points!😬

    • @Anonymous Oh my goodness! This IS a bit of a mind bender, for sure. I do think that spending some of the points is in order. 😉
      Let me address your concerns one by one:
      1) I can’t tell you whether you should renew your CSR cards (but definitely cancel one of them). Think about your upcoming plans and whether you’ll need the perks or 1.5 cents per point on travel redemption in a near future. You can also downgrade one or both of the cards to Chase Freedom or Chase Freedom Unlimited rather than canceling altogether.
      There is also another option. Just cancel CSR X 2 and then convert your new Chase Sapphire Preferred if you decide that the fee is worth it. I’m not sure when they will let you do it after it’s converted from Fairmont. If you currently have Chase Freedom or Unlimited there is an option to convert those to CSR as well. In fact, I could do it myself at any time.
      2) You should have 60 days to use points after canceling Citi Prestige. See this Flyertalk thread for more http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/citi-thankyou-rewards/1391810-citi-thankyou-points-cancel-downgrade-expiration-considerations-11.html
      Citi has a weird and convoluted system, so transferring the points to another account won’t help if you cancel the card associated with those points. You can convert Citi Prestige to Citi Thank You Preferred (no fee), but you won’t get an uplift on points. As you know, you can redeem points from Citi Prestige at 1.25 cents apiece towards flights.
      You could redeem points towards Southwest flights (by calling Citi) and then cancel your reservation with no penalty. Do keep in mind, you will have to use up the travel funds within a year. As in, the flight has to take place within 12 months. It’s not an ideal situation, but it will give you more time to use them up. The tickets will have to be in the name of the original passenger. The same thing may be possible with Alaska Air, but I’m not sure. You could also transfer to a mileage program, but there is risk, obviously. Air France and Singapore are decent options, but miles do expire.
      Canceling Citi Prestige will reset the 24-month clock, yes. Converting to Citi Thank You Preferred or Premier MAY not. But it’s hard to know with Citi, so YMMV.
      3) You should be able to transfer Flexperks to Altitude Reserve, yes. I was able to do it. I don’t believe they will expire once they are safely in the other account, even if you cancel Flexperks card.

      Hope this helps. And start burning those points!

  3. Here’s how I think about it:

    If you have 2 CSRs because you are a couple, cancel at least one.

    If you don’t have a lot of UR points, and you have a lot of points with other programs and. O plans to earn UR points over the next year, cancel. However, if you want a premium UR card, downgrade to the CSP.

    If you have a lot of URpoints, and no other premium UR cards, it’s essentially a $150 or $55 annual fee (see Blakes thinking above). Additional consideration should be given to which categories your spend is in.

    For us, we are canceling one and keeping one. we have about 170k UR left after using quite a bit for our last trip and our Hawaii trip next year. So I’m all about the wbikott to use it at 1.5x. We have a CSP so transferring is taken care of if we have a change of heart or use up our points over the next month.

      • @Cheapblackdad No worries on typos! I seem to always have a few in my posts, no matter how many times I go over them. And I type on a keyboard, not the phone. 🙂
        Yeah, what you are saying makes sense. You have a decent stash of UR points, and the uplift via CSR towards revenue travel is a great perk. One thing I’m a bit confused on: do you plan to renew CSP and CSR? That seems a bit redundant, but maybe you have a good reason for it. I would think adding your spouse as an authorized user to CSR would make more sense, even at $75 extra. Plus, you can always order an extra CSR card in your name for free and simply give it to your spouse for dining etc.

  4. Leana,
    Thanks for your post concerning your reluctance to cancel CSR. There are a few more travel benefits with this card that I like such as trip delay after only 6 hrs, emergency evacuation at $100k and emergency dental that other cards may not have. However, with any credit card trip insurance there’s more to keep up in knowing what is covered as well as forms to fill out that make it appealing to simply buy a stand-alone policy for coverage as you do. I know to check with personal health insurance policy first to get medical coverage, but for trip protection with miles and points the out-of-pocket expenses may only be with costs to reinstate points, thus a $10,000 paid trip may only be a few hundred using rewards. Do you use a credit card for some protection and buy a separate policy just to cover what you stand to lose using rewards? If you already have a post with this information please refer. Thanks

    • @Steve CSR is a great card, but the math in my case just doesn’t seem to add up. I absolutely love UR points, but as with everything in this hobby, I try to take emotion out of it.
      If we had more flights coming up, plus a decent stash of UR points, I would probably reconsider. But I guess I can always convert my Chase Freedom if needed, and then convert back. Obviously, I would still have pay the annual fee, but $300 travel credit would take the sting out of it. It does depend on how much one travels, so it’s not a “one size fits all” type deal.

      On travel insurance, this is a tricky subject. I have a distrust towards policies that come with your credit card, mainly because I’ve seen some horror stories. That said, many people were successful in getting a payout when things go wrong, so maybe I’m being unreasonable. Some of the rules are a bit confusing. Like CSP has a roundtrip flight requirement. I almost always buy one-way tickets. I’ve seen that Chase will usually overlook this, but what if I end up being the one with whom they decide to enforce this rule? Also, when you have award tickets, it gets even more confusing, especially if you are not using points earned via that particular program.

      I don’t always buy travel insurance, but I do buy a stand-alone medical policy when we go on a cruise or to a foreign country. An interesting quirk: I was recently required to purchase a medical policy for my husband in order for him to get a visa to Belarus. Buying a package policy (covers cancellation and delays) was actually a little cheaper. Putting airline tickets on a credit card would have saved us nothing in this particular case.

      I’m a great believer in travel insurance and we have cashed in on it three times. I wrote a post on it while back, and there are links to few more: https://milesforfamily.com/2016/03/25/the-devil-is-in-the-details-when-it-comes-to-travel-insurance/
      I do plan to write a refresher at some point, though. I think for simple trips within US, credit card coverage will probably suffice. For more complicated itineraries, I prefer to buy my own policy. Plus, you can usually add “cancel for any reason” option for an extra fee. No such thing with credit cards.

      • @Leana I’m a firm believer of one buying travel insurance especially since we have 2 kids. For cruises, I especially bump up medical evacuation to be able to cover emergencies. We also buy a lot of one-ways so CSR wouldn’t have my back, and I have heard horror stories trying to deal with them, and I don’t want to be just another frustrated customer.

      • @Leana. I have NEVER bought or considered travel insurance. However, on our recent Alaskan cruise we did buy the insurance, only because the guy paying for the cruise insisted that everyone buy a policy. We ended up using it, 3 times, and receiving about $600. I think we came out ahead. Yay! Now I’m a believer. It wasn’t that expensive and saved us a lot of money!

    • Credit card insurances are another interesting topic! I tried to use Chase’s primary rental car insurance after my rental car was keyed in a parking lot. Chase’s insurance company asked for proof of everything including proof that the rental car company fixed it which was very hard to get and they denied me three times and each time took at least a month. In the end I just gave up as I was busy moving out of state. It was $175. I gave Chase’s insurance company everything needed to prove this happened including pictures, bills, receipts, reservations, a copy of my credit card statement and emails from the car company. I do not count on the Chase insurance anymore. Citi prestige paid my delay coverage within weeks. I just needed a delay letter from airline and my receipts. I also once used Discover price protection and all I needed was a receipt and screen shots and my claim was processed quickly. That’s my experience with credit card insurances so far. I don’t think I would count on them for a large medical expense.

      • This is exactly why I’m not super confident when it comes to credit card travel insurance policies. I have heard very good things about Citi Prestige, though. One of my readers was able to use their travel insurance recently, and had only positive things to say. No hassle whatsoever. But I can’t get Citi Prestige for another year! Plus, once again, there is that $450 annual fee to take into account. I usually just go ahead and buy a comprehensive standalone policy that includes medical. That’s the part many overlook. Credit card travel insurance policies don’t have a comprehensive medical coverage. Skipping it is very risky. As bad as it is to miss a $1,000 flight, it’s worse to be on the hook for $20k surgery overseas.

      • @Amanda Many people skip insurance, so you are not the only one. I see it as buying peace of mind. I’m a neurotic person by nature, and the last thing I need is worrying about yet another potential disaster.

    • @Stephanie Medical insurance is a must with family, especially for cruises. Airlifting from a ship costs a fortune, and we’ve seen it happen to passengers. I always make sure we have decent coverage. Skipping it IMO is penny wise, and pound foolish. True, it’s unlikely that something horrendous will happen. But if it does, it could bankrupt my family. Not worth chancing it.

  5. @Leana my thoughts exactly on the air evacuation. Don’t get me started with kids going on cruises without a passport. My friend was being too cheap to buy her kids passports so she just brought their birth certificates on our last cruise. Mind you, nothing happened, but her entire family at one time or another have ended up in the hospital for some type of fluke injury or illness. Why take that chance? I told her that if we’re in another country and her kids were injured that they can’t fly out without a passport.

    Also, I’m surprised that you’re thinking of applying for the Citi Prestige. I have never had it, but the stupid $7,500 spending scares me. I know I can probably do it, but that’s high. Heck, $5,000 scares me just because I think I’m in denial as to what I actually charge on our cards per month.

    • @Stephanie It’s true, $7,500 requirement is very high, but so is bonus of 75k points. Honestly, I’m not sure what I will do next year, and Citi will probably decrease the offer by then. I’m not even eligible till next June.
      But we can (barely) handle this kind of spending in the summer because my auto and home insurance renew around that time. And the insurance company accepts credit cards, so there is no extra fee. But yeah, I hear you. I don’t think this type of offer is attainable for most of my readers. I don’t plan to devote any separate posts to it for that reason. It is a good deal, but only for those who can handle the spend. Oh, and I’m also in denial as to what I put on cards each month!

  6. We are very seriously considering keeping our CSR. Don’t need to decide until January. But…

    a) We have close to 300,000 UR points.
    b) The $300 travel credit is easy to receive, and so you’re left with $150. I figure if we spend $5000 on travel expenses we will cut even due to triple points ($3333 on travel = 10,000 points (worth $150) – did I do that right? My husband travels for work and can use the CSR to pay for his hotels and airfare and then he gets reimbursed.
    c) Lounge access. Due to the crazy flights I book from MN to NZ we end up with long airport layovers (4-8 hours at a time) – usually in Los Angeles and in Fiji. The lounge came in very useful on the last trip! And I am pretty sure it saved us more than $150.00 when you add in the fact that we travelled as a family of five*.

    *For example, once we were in LAX and there was no convenient lounge for us to go to, so we just went into a random restaurant – five of us. We were too tired and stressed to think about budgeting or money. We ordered pizzas, lemonades, beers, ice cream, and afterward, coffees at the gate. We easily blew $100 on nothing. So if the five of us go into a lounge at least once, or twice, I’m sure I’m saving that $100 (or it’s at least justifying the $150 annual fee).

    d) Someone above mentioned – due to 5/24, I’m afraid to give it up.

    • @Amanda You definitely present a compelling case for keeping CSR. You have a sizable stash of UR points, so redeeming at 1.5 cents on travel is very attractive. And yes, you get triple points on travel, so those can quickly add up too. Of course, you do have to compare it to what you would have earned via 2% cash back card, so it’s probably fair to deduct that amount from rewards. But still, it would be fairly easy for you to justify the fee. Under the right circumstances, lounge access can really pay off for family. We’ve never really spent 8 hours in the airport with kids, thank goodness! But hanging out in he lounge instead of terminal is definitely preferable under those circamstances. And like you said, the food costs can add up. Though my kids are not huge fans of lounge food, those spoiled brats…

      • Which is the 2% back card? (Sorry – can’t be bothered to reread). I’m going to assume that that card comes with a foreign transaction fee that would cut into my profits too much, but for most normal families living in the States, you bring up a good point!

      • @Amanda That’s right, you live in New Zealand! The two obvious 2% cash back/no fee options are Citi Double Cash and Fidelity Visa Signature. Both have Forex fees, unfortunately. There is another interesting possibility for folks like you: Alliant Cashback Visa. Read the post on DoC https://www.doctorofcredit.com/alliant-cashback-visa-signature-credit-card-review-3-cash-back-first-year-2-5-59-af-waived-first-year/
        There is an annual fee of $59, starting in the second year. However, it has no Forex fees whatsoever, and earns 2.5% cash back on all purchases. I’m not saying you should drop everything and apply for it now, but it’s a decent option down the road.

      • Thanks! Will make a note. The other problem though is that we lose 1% in money transfer fees! But 1.5% is still better than a stick in the eye! 🙂

  7. Pingback: Chase Thwarts My CSP Plans (Chase Hyatt Visa, Here I Come!) - Miles For Family

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