Wanna Get Away reward flight bookings made on or after March 31, 2014 will require 70 points per dollar, an increase from the 60 points per dollar that is currently required.
That was Southwest's dispiriting message to Rapid Rewards members in September 2013. Now, almost seven months later, the deadline to book awards before the price increase takes effect is almost upon us.
The time to act and lock in awards at the current prices is now.
At the current 60 points per dollar level, a Rapid Rewards point is worth about 1.67 cents when redeemed for a Wanna Get Away award ticket. When the new policy takes effect, points will decrease in value by 15 percent, to 1.4 cents each.
To put that in perspective, the current 25,000-point sign-up bonus for a Rapid Rewards credit card that's currently worth around $418 would fall in value to just over $350.
Wanna Get Away awards are by far the program's most popular award type, so the price increase amounts to a significant devaluation to a key component of the program overall.
Program devaluations are a fact of travel life, of course. The key take-away: Don't hoard points. The more points you have in your account when prices increase, the greater will be your loss. Redeem points sooner rather than later.
Reader Reality Check
How much less rewarding do these changes make Rapid Rewards for you?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.