Southwest Rapid Rewards guide

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Southwest Airlines has been a longtime favorite of travelers heading to destinations in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean. The airline has affordable flights, flexible booking options and minimal fees. Here’s what you need to know about the Southwest Rapid Rewards program.

What is Southwest Rapid Rewards?

Rapid Rewards is a free loyalty program that allows customers to earn points by purchasing Southwest flights, making purchases with a partner or spending on a Southwest credit card. You can use points on travel expenses with Southwest or one of its partners.

Southwest Rapid Rewards points value

Rapid Rewards points’ value sits around 1.3 to 1.4 cents when used for Southwest Airlines flights. 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
Business Select $265 19,881 $0.013
Anytime $235 17,541 $0.013
Wanna Get Away $129 9,272 $0.014
Average $0.013
Flight: NY to AUS
Business Select $656 49,989 $0.013
Anytime $628 47,805 $0.013
Wanna Get Away $303 22,494 $0.013
Average $0.013
Flight: TUS to BWI
Business Select $627 47,727 $0.013
Anytime $599 45,543 $0.013
Wanna Get Away $303 22,494 $0.013
Average $0.013
Flight costs accurate as of Sept. 3, 2020, on Southwest.com.

How to sign up

You can sign up for Southwest Rapid Rewards online at the program’s enrollment page.

How to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

The primary way to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points is to book flights on the airline. The number of points you receive depends on the fare you choose and doesn’t include taxes and fees:

  • Wanna Get Away—6X the fare price
  • Anytime—10X the fare
  • Business Select—12X the fare

If you purchased a Business Select ticket at $400 (before taxes and fees), you would receive 4,800 points. You can also earn points by making purchases with Southwest’s Rapid Rewards partners and through the Southwest Rapid Rewards dining program, which rewards you for dining out at participating restaurants.

If you need more points, you can buy them. You can purchase anywhere from 2,000 to 60,000 points at a time, in blocks of 500 (1,000 during promotions). Another Rapid Rewards member can also transfer points to you.

Best credit cards for earning Rapid Rewards points

You can earn Rapid Rewards faster by making purchases with select credit cards, including co-branded Southwest Airlines cards. Here are our top picks:

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Best for a low annual fee

When you sign up for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card, you’ll earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. You’ll also get 3,000 bonus points on your cardmember anniversary. You’ll earn 2 points per dollar you spend at Southwest or one of its travel partners and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

This card charges foreign transaction fees, and you also can’t earn points toward A-list status with it. However, it only has a $69 annual fee, which is lower than other co-branded Southwest cards.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Best for A-list status

Just like the Rapid Rewards Plus, the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card gets you 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. You’ll also get 6,000 points on your cardholder anniversary and can earn up to 15,000 (1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points, also known as TQP, for every $10,000 you spend per year, up to a maximum of 15,000 TQP points per year). A-list qualifying points a year, which is almost half of what you need to qualify for the year. Dollars you spend at Southwest or a partner are worth 2 points apiece, and everything else is worth 1 point apiece.

For this card, you’ll pay a slightly higher annual fee at $99, but it doesn’t have a foreign transaction fee.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Best for in-flight benefits

The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card offers the same welcome bonus as the other two Rapid Rewards cards: Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year. You’ll also earn 7,500 extra Rapid Reward points on your cardholder anniversary and can earn up to 15,000 A-list qualifying points a year (1,500 Tier-Qualifying Points for every $10,000 you spend per year, up to a maximum of 15,000 TQP points per year). You’ll receive 2 points for every dollar you spend with Southwest or a partner and 1 point for every other dollar.

Though this card has a slightly higher annual fee at $149, it comes with some valuable perks: a $75 yearly travel credit, no foreign transaction fees, 20 percent back on in-flight drinks and Wi-Fi and complimentary upgrades four times per year.

Chase Sapphire Preferred: Best for earning double points

Chase Ultimate Rewards can be transferred to the Rapid Rewards program at a rate of 1:1. With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can get 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months of opening the account. You’ll get 2 points per dollar on all travel and restaurant purchases, which gives you more opportunities to earn points at a higher rate than you would with a co-branded card.

Diners Club Card Premier: Best for low-cost travel perks

Southwest Airlines and Diners Club have also teamed up so you can convert your Diners Club Card points into Rapid Rewards. With the Diners Club Card Premier, you can get one point per dollar you spend. However, you will lose a little value by transferring points to rapid rewards since 1,500 Club Rewards points equals 1,200 Rapid Rewards points. The card costs $95 each year to hold, has no foreign transaction fees and comes with a global network of airport lounges and car rental discounts, plus an assistant that will help you book travel excursions.

Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

You can use points to purchase flights without blackout dates. The number of points you’ll need to buy a flight depends on the fare, and can vary by day and demand. There are a few restrictions to note. You can’t purchase special fares (like tickets 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.

If you are a More Rewards program member with a Rapid Rewards credit card, you can also redeem your points for international flights offered by other airlines, gift cards, hotel stays, rental cars and merchandise, though redemption value will vary.

Southwest partners

Southwest Airlines doesn’t readily advertise which airlines it partners, but you can use your points toward international travel with partner airlines under its More Rewards program.

On the other hand, the company has many hotels and resorts it partners with, including:

  • Southwest Hotels
  • Best Western Hotels and Resorts
  • Radisson
  • Choice Hotels
  • World of Hyatt
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • MGM Resorts International

Each of these partner hotels will give you Rapid Rewards points when you spend with them.

Southwest elite status: What you need to know

As you climb Southwest’s tiers, you can boost points even faster. A-List status earns you 25 percent bonus points on qualifying flights, while A-list Preferred status earns you a 100 percent earning bonus on qualifying flights.

A-List status also comes with priority boarding and check-in and a dedicated member phone line. You can reach A-list status by earning 35,000 qualifying points or taking 25 qualifying flights.

A-List Preferred status comes with everything above, plus free in-flight Wi-Fi. To reach A-list status, you’ll need 70,000 qualifying points or 50 qualifying flights.

Earning the Southwest Companion Pass

A Southwest Companion Pass lets members choose one person every calendar year to fly with them for free (except taxes and other fees), and it typically takes a lot of work to obtain it.

For existing cardmembers, you need to either complete 100 qualifying one-way trips or earn 125,000 qualifying points in one year. You can gather these points by using your Rapid Rewards credit card or making purchases with partner companies. Once you have achieved the requirements, you can add a companion to each flight you purchase using your Southwest Rapid Rewards login.

Read our full breakdown of the Southwest Companion Pass for more information.

How Southwest Rapid Rewards compares to other frequent flyer programs

Each frequent flyer program is slightly different and has its own earning structure and perks. Like Southwest, the JetBlue TrueBlue program also gives you 2 points per dollar on travel with the airline and has no blackout dates. This program also lets you pool points with friends and family. Unlike Southwest, JetBlue partners with many other airlines, which expands your redemption options. If you’re looking for a program with extensive opportunities to travel internationally, you might also benefit from joining a larger airline’s program, like Delta SkyMiles, American Airlines AAdvantage or United MileagePlus.

Frequent flyer programs are free to join, so you can earn rewards with every airline you fly. However, if you’re looking one program to stick with, the best program for you will depend on which airline you’re most likely to fly.

The information about the Diners Club Card Premier has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.