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Are you a frequent flyer for business or pleasure? You can cut your travel costs by enrolling in an airline rewards program like Southwest Rapid Rewards.
With more than 100 destinations across the U.S. and beyond, including flights into and out of major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., as well as hot vacation destinations like Turks and Caicos, Southwest Airlines has become a top choice in budget airlines.
Southwest saves its passengers money with reasonable fares and no fee for the first two checked bags. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program sweetens the deal by offering points for every flight that you can redeem for future travel, gift cards, experiences, and more.
But how much are the points worth? How can you redeem them? And what other perks do you get as a member? Here’s what you need to know about earning more with Southwest Rapid Rewards.
Understand the Southwest point structure
Southwest Rapid Rewards gives you points you can redeem for airline travel and hotel stays, as well as gift cards, merchandise, rental cars, and unique experiences like spa packages, golf outings, wine tastings, and more.
The number of points you earn depends on the type of flight you book. A budget-friendly Wanna Get Away® flight earns 6 points per dollar. Anytime flights earn 10 points. And Business Select® flights earn 12 points for every dollar.
How to get on the A-list
As you accrue points, you’ll move up the rewards tiers to A-list (35,000 points or 25 one-way flights within one calendar year) or A-list Preferred (70,000 points or 50 one-way flights) status.
Then your travel becomes worth even more. A-list members earn 7.5 points, 12.5 points, or 15 points per dollar, depending on which type of flight they book.
A-list preferred members earn double the points they would earn from a base ticket. A Wanna Get Away® flight earns 12 points per dollar. Anytime flights are worth 20 points. And Business Select® A-list Preferred tickets rack up 24 points per dollar.
A-list members also enjoy other benefits, including priority check-in and priority boarding, free same-day standby travel, and a dedicated member phone line so you can reach a customer service representative quickly.
Earn points from Southwest partners
Flying Southwest may be one of the best ways to earn Rapid Rewards points. But it isn’t the only way. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program partners with popular brands including Marriott Rewards, Radisson Rewards, Alamo and Hertz rental cars, 1-800-Flowers, Harry & David, and many more, so you can earn points when you book a hotel or rental car or make a retail purchase. Points vary depending on the partner.
Earn more when you dine out
You can also join the Rapid Rewards Dining program to earn points when you eat out. Rapid Rewards Dining members earn up to 3 points per dollar spent at participating restaurants when they pay with any one of 12 major credit or debit cards they registered when they signed up.
Members also earn bonus points for writing a restaurant review and additional bonus points when they reach different point tiers. For instance, you’ll earn an extra 500 bonus points once you earn 1,500 points from dining out and submitting reviews, and another 300 points for every 1,000 points earned.
Use your Rapid Rewards credit card to earn points faster
You don’t need a credit card to earn Rapid Rewards points – but it helps. Southwest Rapid Rewards Visa cards, issued by Chase Bank, offer points every time you use your card – plus generous sign-up bonuses.
The Rapid Rewards program provides four different credit cards, all with different annual fees, credit requirements, and bonuses. All four cards offer 2 points for every dollar spent with Southwest or through Southwest travel partners, and 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card offers several perks to cardholders, including $75 annually in Southwest travel credit, which helps defray the $149 annual fee. Priority Visa customers also get 20 percent cashback on in-flight purchases, four upgraded boarding passes per year, and more flexible redemption options than Rapid Rewards Plus cardholders.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card is designed for business travelers and offers bonus rewards points after you spend $3,000 using your card.
The other three cards give you 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first three months.
How to use your points
The number of points required to book a flight varies based on the dollar value of the flight. When a Southwest flight drops in price, so does the number of points required to book the flight using your rewards. Wanna Get Away® flights require less points than Business Select® flights.
You can also redeem your points in the Rapid Rewards store for merchandise, gift cards, travel-related expenses, and special experiences.
How Southwest Rapid Rewards compares to other frequent flyer programs
Unlike many other frequent flyer programs, Southwest Rapid Rewards allows you to redeem your points for any available flight at any time, with no blackout dates. The airline doesn’t limit the number of rewards seats per flight. Points don’t expire as long as you show activity on your account at least once every 24 months.
JetBlue, another budget-friendly airline, has similar rules, but rewards start at 3 points per dollar, unless you book online, where you earn a minimum of 6 points per dollar.
Legacy carriers like American Airlines and Delta offer miles that equal anywhere from 100 to 150% of the miles flown, depending on the cost of the flight.
Southwest’s point system gives you a minimum of 6 points for every dollar spent, and you’ll need about 70 points per dollar to pay for a flight using your rewards. This compares favorably to other rewards programs.
How to sign up
Signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards is easy. Simply fill out the form to enroll and make sure to log in or provide your Southwest Rewards ID number every time you book a flight on Southwest.
For our latest advice on Rapid Rewards and more, check out our rewards programs page.