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Don’t let your Southwest points expire: Nine ways to keep from losing your points

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Don’t let your Southwest points expire: Nine ways to keep from losing your points

Meghan HunterDon’t let your Southwest points expire: Nine ways to keep from losing your pointsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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If you’re traveling domestically, it’s hard to beat Southwest. They have a straightforward loyalty program, two free checked bags per person, no change or cancellation fees and great fare sales that happen frequently. And they have the best deal in travel – the Southwest Companion Pass.

But do Southwest points expire? Yes. The one downside to collecting Southwest points is that they expire after 24 months of no earning activity. And unlike most other airline miles, redeeming Southwest points will not reset the expiration date.

So we’ve put together a list of ways to keep your account active so you don’t have to worry about losing your hard-earned points.

Southwest points expire after 24 months of no earning activity. Luckily, there are lots of easy ways to keep your Southwest points alive. (Photo by of rypson/iStock by Getty Images.)

Do Southwest points expire?

You must earn qualifying Southwest points at least once every 24 months to keep your account active. Otherwise, you risk losing all of your points. Southwest does not consider redeeming points — whether it’s to book an award flight or donate them to charity — as account activity.

Here’s how to keep the points in your Southwest account active:

1. Hold a Southwest credit card

One of the easiest ways to keep your points from expiring is to have one of these Southwest credit cards:

As long as you’re a cardholder, your points will not expire.

Just remember the Southwest cards are subject to the Chase 5/24 rule. You won’t be approved if you’ve opened five or more cards from any bank (excluding certain business cards) in the past 24 months. You also aren’t allowed to have more than one personal Southwest card at a time, although you can hold a business Southwest card (or two) and a personal Southwest credit card at the same time.

2. Take a paid flight on Southwest

It’s stating the obvious, but you’ll earn points for taking a paid flight with Southwest which will reset the date for your points expiration.

3. Purchase Southwest points

Purchasing Southwest points is considered a qualifying activity when it comes to Southwest’s expiration policy.

This is undoubtedly the easiest and most straightforward way to keep your points from expiring but it probably isn’t the most cost-effective. You can buy a minimum of 2,000 Southwest points for $60 (that’s 3 cents per point).

Personally, I’d rather earn a few bonus points by making an online purchase through Southwest’s shopping portal, for example.

4. Dine out

Another easy way to earn Southwest points is to enroll in Southwest’s Rapid Rewards Dining Program and dine at a participating restaurant.

Earning points this way doesn’t require an expensive meal at a five-star establishment. Many of Southwest’s dining partners have meals for under $10, meaning you could eat cheap and prevent your Southwest points from expiring at the same time.

5. Shop through the Southwest shopping portal

Like many other airline frequent-flyer programs, Southwest offers an online shopping portal. Find the merchant for a purchase you want to make and click through Southwest’s online store.

You’ll earn bonus Southwest points and extend the expiration date of your points. It’s a win-win, although you can’t use this technique at the last minute to reset your expiration date because it can take up to 21 days for the points to post to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account.

6. Rent a car

If you plan to rent a car, you could earn Southwest points for your rental. This would be considered qualifying activity and would reset the expiration date of your Southwest points balance.

You can earn Southwest points for rentals through most of the major rental agencies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Hertz, National and more. You’ll also earn points for taking a shuttle service with SuperShuttle.

7. Book a hotel room

Another way to earn Southwest points is by booking a hotel room.

To earn points, you must stay at one of Southwest’s hotel partners and credit the rewards you earn to your Southwest account. Southwest’s partners include:

Once the points credit to your account, the expiration date of your points will be extended for another 24 months.

8. Transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest

Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio and the transfers are instant. So if you need to keep your Southwest points from expiring, this is a good move for those who have a stash of Ultimate Rewards points. You can transfer Chase points in increments of 1,000 points.

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest when you have cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

9. Transfer hotel points to Southwest

You can transfer hotel points to your Southwest loyalty account from a list of chains that includes Hyatt, Marriott, Choice and Wyndham. The minimum number of points you can convert and the number of points you’ll earn varies by hotel.

Not only can this be a good option for topping off your account for an award flight, but it also extends the expiration date of your Southwest points for another 24 months.

Bottom line

Southwest points expire after 24 months of no earning activity and using Southwest points does not reset their expiration date.

Thankfully, there are lots of quick and easy ways to keep your Southwest points from disappearing for good. Any Southwest point-earning activity will keep your points alive, including transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards and hotel programs, shopping through Southwest’s shopping portal and more.

One of the easiest ways to keep your points from expiring is to have one of these Southwest credit cards:

As long as you’re a cardholder, your points will not expire.

What’s your favorite method for keeping your Southwest points from expiring? Share your experience in the comments below.

Check out our guides for using Southwest Airlines points:

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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® hotel and car rental partner purchases.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.

More Info

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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The only reason I have not elected to get a SW card is that my CC thru my credit union has a lower int rate.

Also do you have any plans to fly into Fresno FAT anytime soon? TY FOR bN so awesome, I do enjoy Flying SW!

Gotta do what’s best for your situation!

I personally never carry a balance on any of my credit cards, so the interest rate is a non-issue for me. Plus, as much as I love credit unions, I’ve found that the credit card offerings from many banks have a lot more to offer in terms of value and perks when it comes to traveling.

Erewards

Meghan,

I do not think that simply being a holder of one of Southwest’s Chase credit cards is sufficient to keep your RR miles from expiring.

To keep miles from expiring solely via a SW credit card, you must make at least one (1) “points earning transaction” every 24 months (and have it post to your RR account prior to the expiration of said 24 month period.

With UAL there are ways to reactivate expired miles. Can I do the same thing with SWA expired RR points?

I found the easiest way to extend the South West points expiration date is to add the South West Rapid Rewards Shopping extension button to Chrome. You can earn points online at hundreds of sites including Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware. . If you’re planning to purchase something from one of these stores, you can order it on-line for free pickup at the store and earn points. With the Shopping button activated, when you go to any of the South West Shopping sites, a small window opens giving you the chance to activate points for your shopping at that site.

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