I recently started using Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards for short flights. They especially useful now that you can buy/redeem points for all AirTran as well as Southwest flights on Southwest.com. One major advantage of the Rapid Rewards program is that you can make free changes to all tickets–both award and cash fares!
Southwest Rapid Reward points are revenue based. This means that the number of points required to redeem for a flight is directly related to the cash price. The lower the fare the fewer the points needed to redeem. Since there are no change fees (only the difference in fare) you don’t have to worry too much about when you book the flights. Back in August I used 6540 southwest points to book my one-way flight home on Christmas day. I subscribe to Southwest’s emails so I get alerted when sales and promotions come out. When I get an email from Southwest I go to southwest.com to re-check my currently booked flights. Today I saw that the cash price (and therefore the points price) went down from what I originally paid!
I used the the quite easy and painless online flight change system on southwest.com to re-book. I picked the same flight I was already on and it gave me 1140 points back! If this were a cash fare it would have given me a credit of $19 (the difference in the cash fare) for future use. This is a wonderful feature! You still get your original flight and have a cash credit or more points to use later. This took me all of 2 minutes to do and I immediately had the 1140 points back in my account ready to use.
If you book far enough in advance there is a chance a sale could cause the price to drop. At a minimum I would check every time they announce a fare sale. I tend to check mine about once a week anyway because I like to get the most value out of my miles and points.
Do you have any booked Southwest flights that you need to check? There is a sale today!