Do Southwest points expire? Here’s what you need to know

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If you’re traveling domestically, it’s hard to beat Southwest. The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is straightforward, you’ll always get two free checked bags per person, no change or cancellation fees and there are frequent Southwest sales. Not only that, but they also have the best deal in travel – the Southwest Companion Pass.

But do Southwest points expire? No, until recently the biggest downside to collecting Southwest points is that they used to expire after 24 months of no earning activity and unlike most other airline miles, redeeming Southwest points wouldn’t reset the expiration date.

Southwest points don’t expire anymore! (Photo by of rypson/iStock by Getty Images.)

Do Southwest points expire?

Southwest points do not expire, but that’s not the case with most airlines. Here’s a look at airline mileage expiration policies:

  • Air Canada: 12 months without activity
  • Alaska Airlines: 24 months without activity
  • American Airlines: 18 months without activity
  • British Airways: 36 months without activity
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 36 months after earning
  • Delta Miles: Never expire
  • Hawaiian Airlines: 18 months without activity
  • JetBlue: Never expire
  • Singapore Airlines: 36 months after earning
  • Southwest Airlines: Never expire
  • Spirit Airlines: 3 months without earning
  • United Airlines: Never expire

Sometimes airlines get tricky with the wording of the expiration policies. They may advertise miles that never expire, but your frequent flyer account can be shutdown after a certain length of inactivity. So pay attention to that.

Use Southwest points for award flights

Southwest points don’t expire, so you can collect them freely without worry of ever losing them, but with Southwest there’s no official award chart. Instead, the price you pay in points is tied to the cash price of the flight. The benefit of this is you’ll always be able to use Southwest points to book a flight with points, as long as there is an open seat. The downside is you can never be exactly sure how much you’ll need to pay for a flight.

You can earn Southwest points by opening a Southwest credit card, like these:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
  • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
  • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

One of the best parts about these cards is that the intro bonus you earn will count toward earning a Southwest Companion Pass. You can also transfer Chase points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio or you can transfer Marriott points to Southwest at a 3:1 ratio.

Bottom line

Southwest points never expire, regardless of whether or not there is any activity in your Southwest account. That’s an excellent change because previously they would expire if you didn’t have any earning activity in 24 months .

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Jason Stauffer was a writer for Million Mile Secrets where he covered points, miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels and general travel. His work has appeared in The Points Guy and NextAdvisor.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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