Many travelers opt for Southwest Airlines when traveling around the U.S., to Mexico and to the Caribbean, and for good reason. It’s known for low fares and customer-friendly policies, such as no change fees and two free checked bags. Along with these perks, Southwest also offers the Rapid Rewards program that can earn you free flights. But just how valuable are the program’s points? How do you earn them? And is the program right for you? Here’s all you need to know.
Bankrate’s Southwest points valuation
What are Southwest points worth? Let’s take a closer look at the value breakdown as determined by Bankrate experts.
Southwest points value
Southwest’s Rapid Rewards points break down to a value of about $0.013 to $0.014 when booking Southwest flights. So, 100 points will cover about $1.30 to $1.40 of your Southwest airfare, on average. As you can see from the table below, the exact value might fluctuate slightly depending on the details of your flight.
|Flight Cost (USD)||Flight Cost (Points)||Value Per Point|
|Flight: LAX to SFO|
|Wanna Get Away®||$129||9,272||$0.014|
|Flight: NY to AUS|
|Wanna Get Away®||$303||22,494||$0.013|
|Flight: TUS to BWI|
|Wanna Get Away®||$303||22,494||$0.013|
Flight costs accurate as of July 23, 2020, on Southwest.com.
How to earn Southwest points
You can earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points when you enroll in the program and book flights through Southwest. The number of points you earn depends on the fare you choose and excludes taxes and fees. Wanna Get Away fares are entry-level and earn 6x the fare price, Anytime fares earn 10x the fare and Business Select fares (Southwest’s version of first-class) earn 12x the fare. For example, if your Business Select fare was $200 plus $50 in government taxes and fees, you would take $200 and multiply it by 12, so you’d earn 2,400 points.
It’s possible to boost your points as you climb Southwest’s tiers. A-List Status earns you a 25 percent bonus points on qualifying flights, while A-list Preferred status earns you a 100 percent earning bonus on qualifying flights.
You can also earn points when you make purchases with Southwest’s Rapid Rewards partners, which include credit card providers, hotels, rental car companies, experience providers, ground transportation companies, online retailers, restaurants and more.
To speed up your point accumulation, consider one of the co-branded Chase and Southwest credit cards associated with the program. You have three options: The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. All three cards give you 40,000 points when you spend $1,000 in the first three months after opening the account. Plus, they offer points whenever you make a qualified purchase and each year on your cardholder anniversary.
If you need more points, you can buy them or have them transferred to you from another Rapid Rewards Member. Additionally, Chase Ultimate Rewards can also be transferred to the Rapid Rewards program at a rate of one to one. If you buy points, you have to purchase at least 2,000 points and can only purchase up to 60,000. They are sold in blocks of 500 regularly and 1,000 during promotions.
Southwest Airlines and Diners Club® have also teamed up so you can convert your Diners Club Card points into Rapid Rewards (1,500 Club Rewards points = 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points).
How to redeem Southwest points
You can redeem Southwest points to purchase flights without worrying about blackout dates. The number of points you need to buy a flight depends on the fare, and pricing can depend on the day, demand, fare type and more. There are a few restrictions to note. You can’t purchase special fares such as those for children or infants with points. Further, charter flights, fares purchased through a travel agent, Southwest amenities and group travel are not eligible for purchase through points.
In addition to redeeming points for Southwest flights, if you are a More Rewards program member with a Rapid Rewards credit card, you can redeem your points for international flights offered by other airlines, gift cards, hotel stays, rental cars and merchandise.
To redeem your points you will need to purchase your fare through Southwest.com where you will have the option to select points as a payment method.
Do Southwest points expire?
Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire as long as your account is open and has some flight- or partner-earning activity in the last 24 months. If you close your account, the points will be lost. Keep in mind, points are transferrable to other Rapid Rewards members, so if you are going to close your account but know someone else with an account, you might as well transfer your points to them.
Are Southwest points right for you?
Pros of Southwest points
- No blackout dates
- No booking, change or cancellation fees
- Earn points on flights and purchases through various partners
- Redemption options beyond flights for More Rewards program members
- Membership tiers and credit cards enable higher point earning potential and more perks
Cons of Southwest points
- Can’t combine points and cash for flight purchases
- Southwest’s international flights are limited
- Points expire after a lack of account activity for 24 months
- Points can’t be redeemed for special fares or Southwest amenities
Southwest’s points program can help Southwest loyalists save on their travel expenses. You can get the most out of the program if you travel often and boost point accumulation with one of the Rapid Rewards credit cards. However, the Rapid Rewards points aren’t likely to be best for international travelers with destinations beyond Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.
The information about the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.