Update: What Are Southwest Points Worth Now?

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Now that the Southwest 50,000 point cards are back, folks might have a lot of Southwest points to use.  But Southwest increased the cost of award tickets by 15% at the end of March, so a point is worth less than it used to be.

I wrote about how much Southwest points are really worth before the cost of award tickets went up.  But how much are they worth now?

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

Southwest Points Are Flexible…but They Aren’t Worth as Much as They Used to Be!

How Do We Know What Southwest Points Are Worth?

Link:   Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards

Link:   My Discussion of the Previous Value of Southwest Points

The number of points needed to book a Southwest flight depends directly on the advertised fare.  Wanna Get Away (their cheapest fare) award flight bookings cost 70 points per dollar.  This means 1 Southwest point is worth ~1.43 cents ($1 towards Southwest flights / 70 Southwest points) towards Southwest’s cheap Wanna Get Away flights.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

It Now Costs 70 Points per $1 to Book a Southwest Award Ticket

In practice, you can actually get a higher value out of each point!

Let’s look at some examples.

1.   Rochester to Orlando 1-Way

It costs $140 including taxes and fees to fly Southwest from Rochester to Orlando on September 9, 2014.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

A Paid Ticket From Rochester to Orlando Costs $140

Using points, the same flight costs 8,400 points plus a $2.50 security fee.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

The Same $140 Ticket Costs 8,400 Points Plus $2.50

This means that, for 8,400 points, you’re getting a flight valued at $140 – $2.50 = $137.50.

So you’re actually getting a value of ~1.64 cents per Southwest point ($137.50 cost of flight / 8,400 Southwest points).

2.   West Palm Beach to Atlanta 1-Way

It costs $89 on October 3, 2014, to fly from West Palm Beach to Atlanta.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

A 1-Way Ticket From West Palm Beach to Atlanta Costs $89

If you were to book this ticket with Southwest points, it would cost 5,079 points plus a $2.50 security fee.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

The Same $89 Ticket Costs 5,079 Points Plus $2.50

So for 5,079 points, you’re getting a flight valued at $89 – $2.50 = $86.50.

In this case, you’re actually getting a value of ~1.7 cents per point ($86.50 cost of flight / 5,079 Southwest points).

Why Is This Different From Southwest’s Advertised Value of ~1.43 Cents per Point?

Southwest calculates the number of points needed for a flight by multiplying the BASE FARE by 70.

To see the base fare, click on “fare breakdown” under the fare subtotal.  A new window will pop up showing the base fare plus additional taxes and fees.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

Clicking Fare Breakdown Shows You The Base Fare Plus Taxes and Fees

In the West Palm Beach to Atlanta example, the base fare is ~$73.  When you add excise taxes, segment fees, passenger facility charges and the security fee, the total fare becomes $89.

But Southwest calculates the points needed by multiplying the base fare (not the total fare) by 70.

That means that on a points booking, you are NOT being charged for all of the additional taxes and fees (except for the security fee of $2.50).

The points needed for this booking are $72.56 x 70 = 5,079 Southwest points.  But you’re getting a value of $89 – $2.50 = $86.50 for the fare.

And ($86.50 cost of flight / 5,079 Southwest points) = ~1.7 cents per point!

So Southwest points are still worth more than the advertised value of ~1.43 cents per point!

Remember that if you have the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass, you get even more Big Travel with Small Money!  With the Companion Pass, your companion will fly for free with you, even on award bookings.

How Much Are Southwest Points Worth

Fly 2-for-1 With the Southwest Companion Pass

Right now, all 4 Southwest credit cards have a sign-up bonus of 50,000 points after meeting minimum spending.  So now is a good time to earn points towards the Southwest Companion Pass!

Bottom Line

Southwest values their points at ~1.43 cents per point.  But in practice, Southwest points can be worth up to ~1.7 cents per point or more!

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16 responses to “Update: What Are Southwest Points Worth Now?

  1. I wonder if there is anyway to determine what routes, airports have the highest extra fess (excise taxes, passenger facility charge, segment fee) and make a chart of it. If so, we would know when it is best to use Southwest miles rather than cash.

  2. Yes, but you don’t receive miles on an award ticket so you need to reduce the value by the foregone miles the cash ticket would have earned.

  3. I am not familiar with Southwest point system, so this might be a dumb question for some:

    Once you get the companion pass, is the pass still valid once your Southwest points go below the 110k threshold (i.e. once you start using some of the 110k points)?

    Thanks a lot!

  4. Cool! I just posted about this same topic this morning! It was pretty amazing for me when I sat down to figure it out. I think it really changes the equation on how much different kinds of points are worth

  5. Good info thanks. It got me thinking about using points to go to Aruba but have an issue. They promote direct flights there from ATL, MCO, and BWI but I don’t see that. No matter what I dates I search from ATL I get an error, MCO has one flight a day, & all BWI routes go thru MCO. What gives? That doesn’t seem to match what they tout

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  7. @ Devon – I’m taking my family to Aruba next month on a LUV voucher. Service starts on July 1 from ATL on SW, before that it is an AirTran route. They’ve ran a couple of CRAZY sales good for Tues/Wed for ~ $ 250 RT including junk fees, but your points are based on the base fare which is substantially lower. Hope you can find something that good !!

  8. @Million Mile Secrets – would calling offer any better options? We have the Companion Pass and flying out of SDF is pain enough that we’d love to position to ATL or BWI and then fly straight to AUA

    @Vic – Thanks, did you book online or were they able to book you direct flights on the phone? I ask b/c I knew it didn’t start until July and every month/day of week I looked at gave me the error that they didn’t operate flights between ATL-AUA.

  9. PS: you can also get $20 in Southwest Wanna Get Away fares for 100 Coke points (I dont know when the offer ends). I dont know if it’s worth it compared to other things you can redeem on mycokerewards but I’ve had some points sitting around for a while in my account that I finally used!

  10. Thank you for clarifying the SW points. I get so confused on figuring out just how much an award ticket actually costs! Still think SWA has the best deal in town.

  11. @Vic and Million Mile Secrets – Were you guys able to see my questions above? Thanks!

  12. I started following these blog a few months ago when then Southwest Points offer was 50K. In a nutshell I applied for two cards (two personal) and spend the rest of the required money. I didn’t have an extra $6000 laying around, so I used the Rapid Rewards Shopping Porta for shopping l and Sephora was having a deal 12 points/$1. That deal was what I need to get me to my companion pass….We have now booked four trips (and counting) with it…..BEST CREDIT CARD PERK EVER!

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