Southwest to Partner with Chase for Ultimate Rewards

Chase continues to add value to Ultimate Rewards, the loyalty program linked to its Sapphire Preferred (for consumers) and Ink Bold (for business) credit cards. The latest, from Southwest's website:

Effective January 5, 2012, Chase Sapphire, Ink and Bold Customers will be able to redeem their Ultimate Rewards points for Rapid Rewards Points. Point transfers via Ultimate Rewards are not eligible for status, including A-List, A-List Preferred, or Companion Pass Status. Ultimate Rewards points will be converted to Rapid Rewards Points on a 1:1 ratio.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card is already one of the most robust of the multi-purpose rewards cards. The addition of Southwest as a transfer partner, allowing a 1:1 exchange of Ultimate Rewards points for Rapid Rewards points, further solidifies its position atop the category.

The card's vitals:

  • Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
  • Annual percentage rate: variable, currently 15.24 percent
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Cardholders earn one point for every $1 charged for most purchases, two points per $1 for travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, and up to 10 points per $1 for purchases through the Ultimate Rewards Mall.
  • Cardholders earn a 7 percent dividend on points earned during the year.
  • When redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, points are worth 1.25 cents each.
  • Points can also be transferred 1:1 for miles/points in the programs of British Airways, Continental, United, Hyatt, InterContinental Priority Club, Marriott, and Amtrak.
  • Customer service calls are "answered by people, not prompts."

And then there's the bonus: New Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders earn 50,000 points after charging at least $3,000 to the card during the first three months.

Assuming they are redeemed for travel—flights, cruises, etc., with no capacity controls or blackout dates—through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the bonus points are worth $625.

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