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Southwest Rapid Rewards is one of the most popular frequent flyer programs for people who travel within the United States, as well as those who fly to the Caribbean and Mexico. This program is somewhat unique because it comes with unlimited rewards seats with no blackout dates and points that never expire. Plus, Southwest always offers two free checked bags per person for flights paid with cash or rewards, so members save even more each time they travel with the airline.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for flights, other types of travel, gift cards and more, so they’re slightly more flexible than other airline-based rewards. Better yet, Southwest is a Chase transfer partner, so you can rack up rewards with Chase travel credit cards and transfer them to Southwest Rapid Rewards later on.
If you’re curious about how this program works, read on to learn about the best ways to rack up and redeem Southwest points, the program’s elite status tiers and more.
Southwest Rapid Rewards basics
Southwest Airlines flies to over 100 destinations across the United States, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. That said, Southwest does not belong to an airline alliance, so you can’t use points to book with other airline partners.
How many points you’ll earn when you fly with the airline depends on your elite status level (if you’re an elite flyer) as well as the type of fare you book. Here’s a breakdown of how many points you’ll earn for flying, by fare type:
- Wanna Get Away: 6X points per dollar
- Wanna Get Away Plus: 8X points per dollar
- Anytime: 10X points per dollar
- Business Select: 12X points per dollar
From here, Southwest elites earn 25 percent to 100 percent more points for each dollar they spend on airfare, depending on their status tier. We’ll go over the types of Southwest elite status and how you can earn them in one of the sections below.
How to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points
While you can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points by booking paid airfare through the program, there are other ways to earn rewards. Consider the following strategies to increase your Southwest points haul:
Earn points through 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 like Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards Americas, Alamo, Hertz, 1-800-Flowers.com, Harry & David and many more. The number of points you’ll earn will vary depending on the partner, but you can earn points when you book an eligible hotel or rental car or else make an eligible retail purchase.
Earn points through Southwest’s shopping portal
Southwest Rapid Rewards has its own shopping portal that lets you rack up points when you make purchases online. How many points you can earn varies by retailer and current promotions, but you can typically earn 2X to 5X points per dollar spent on eligible purchases when you click through the portal before you shop.
Earn points through Southwest’s dining program
You can also join the Rapid Rewards Dining program to earn points when you eat out. Rapid Rewards Dining members can earn 3X points per dollar spent at participating restaurants when they opt in to receive email communications and pay with their linked card.
New members can even earn 1,000 bonus points within the first 30 days of joining. To achieve this bonus, you have to spend $25 or more at a participating restaurant and complete an online review within the 30-day period.
Earn points through credit card spending
As mentioned, Southwest is a partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards program, so you can use an eligible Chase credit card to rack up Ultimate Rewards points and then transfer them to Southwest Rapid Rewards.
However, Chase also offers a handful of co-branded credit cards with Southwest. These cards let you earn points for every purchase you make while enjoying perks like early boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases. With that in mind, signing up for a Southwest card could be well worth it.
How to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points
Once you have Southwest Rapid Rewards points to spend, there are plenty of ways to use them. Consider the following strategies to get the most value from your rewards.
Redeem for flights
The number of points required to book a flight varies based on the dollar value of the flight. This means that, when a Southwest flight drops in price, so does the number of points required to book the flight using your rewards. Also, note that the fare type will dictate how many points you need for a flight award. For example, Wanna Get Away flights cost less than Business Select flights.
Redeem for other travel
Southwest lets you redeem points for stays at more than 70,000 hotels around the world. Redemption options vary, as do the number of points you’ll need to earn for a free night.
Redeem for gift cards or merchandise
You can also cash in Southwest points for gift cards to retailers like Apple, Target, Best Buy or Lowe’s. Alternatively, you can redeem rewards for select merchandise available through Southwest.
Redeem for experiences and events
Some experiences are also bookable with points, including spa packages and outdoor adventure tours. If you’re a Southwest credit card member, you can also use points to book exclusive events through Rapid Rewards Access Events.
How much are Southwest Rapid Rewards points worth?
According to our internal points and miles valuations, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are worth approximately 1.5 cents each. This means that 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points could be worth up to $750 if used for airfare.
How do Southwest Rapid Rewards points compare to other programs?
While some frequent flyer miles are worth more than Southwest points, rewards earned in the majority of programs are less valuable on average. The chart below shows how Southwest points compare in value to rewards from several other popular programs.
|Airline loyalty program||Bankrate value|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards||1.5 cents|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles||1 cent|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||3 cents|
|American AAdvantage||1 cent|
|Delta SkyMiles||1.3 cents|
|JetBlue TrueBlue||1.4 cents|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club||2.6 cents|
Southwest Rapid Rewards elite status tiers and benefits
Southwest Rapid Rewards offers two main status tiers: A-List and A-List Preferred. It also offers a highly-celebrated Companion Pass that’s often called out as the best in the industry. The chart below shows how you can achieve each status tier, along with the Companion Pass, and the perks you’ll get when you do:
|Elite status tiers and benefits||A-List||A-List Preferred||Companion Pass|
|How to earn it||Fly 25 qualifying one-way flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year||Fly 50 qualifying one-way flights or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year||Fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 135,000 qualifying points in a calendar year|
Southwest Rapid Rewards partners
Southwest Airlines doesn’t have any airline partners because it’s not a part of an airline alliance. However, the program does partner with other travel brands to help Rapid Rewards members earn more rewards. Here’s a rundown of major Southwest partners you should be aware of:
- Best Western
- Choice Hotels
- Marriott Bonvoy
- MGM Rewards
- Radisson Rewards Americas
- Southwest Hotels
- World of Hyatt
Rental car partners
- Emergency Assistance Plus
- Harry & David
- Home Chef
- NRG Home
- Rewards for Opinions
Top credit cards that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points
There are a range of Southwest credit cards you can use to earn points in this program, and some offer perks that can make flying with the airline a better experience. Here’s a rundown of some of the best Southwest credit cards to consider:
Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card makes it possible for customers to earn 2X points on Southwest airfare; 2X points on purchases made with hotel and rental car partners; 2X points on local transit and commuting (including rideshares); 2X points on internet, cable, phone and select streaming services; and 1X points on other purchases.
Cardholders will also get perks like 3,000 points on their cardmember anniversary, two Early Bird check-in passes per year and 25 percent back on in-flight purchases. A $69 annual fee applies.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 3X points on Southwest airfare; 2X points on purchases made with hotel and car rental partners; 2X points on local transit and commuting (including rideshares); 2X points on internet, cable, phone and select streaming services; and 1X points on other purchases.
Cardholders will get perks like 6,000 points on their cardmember anniversary, two Early Bird check-in passes per year, 25 percent back on in-flight purchases and the chance to earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 spent. A $99 annual fee applies.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Southwest loyalists may want to consider the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card. It offers 3X points on Southwest flights; 2X points on purchases made with hotel and rental car partners; 2X points on local transit and commuting (including rideshares); 2X points on internet, cable, phone and select streaming services; and 1X points on other purchases.
The card also comes with several top perks for cardholders to help defray the $149 annual fee, including a $75 credit toward Southwest airfare each year, 25 percent back on in-flight purchases, four upgraded boarding passes per year (when available), the chance to earn 1,500 tier qualifying points toward A-List status for every $10,000 spent and 7,500 points each year on the cardmember anniversary.
Frequently asked questions
Southwest Rapid Rewards points never expire.
You can share Southwest Rapid Rewards points with friends or family members for a fee (additional terms apply). Points can be transferred in blocks of 500 to 1,000 points, and a minimum transfer of 2,000 points and a daily maximum of 60,000 points applies. That said, you can always use your points to book flights for other people with no additional charges required.
Yes, you can purchase Southwest Rapid Rewards points through the airline. Points are offered in blocks of 500 to 1,000 points, and a minimum purchase of 2,000 points and a daily maximum of 60,000 points applies. You can also transfer Chase points to your Southwest account if you have an eligible Chase travel credit card.