Southwest points value: What are they worth?

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Because the price of a Southwest award flight is directly related to the cash price of the ticket, it’s easier than with most airlines to estimate the value of Southwest points. So how much are Southwest Rapid Rewards points worth?

The value of Southwest points varies depending on the route and other factors. On average, Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each. You’ll find on international flights you’ll typically get a lower value per points because the taxes and fees on an award ticket are usually higher.

The great thing about Southwest points is that they’re easy to earn from Southwest credit cards like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card. And they’re also a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner, so you can indirectly earn Southwest points from top travel credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

With many of the best airline credit cards there is more of a variation in the value you’ll get from the rewards you earn. But with Southwest, there is a much smaller range when it comes to how much airfare your points will get you. Let’s look at some examples to see what Southwest points are worth and how to calculate their value.


With Southwest, you’ll always know what value you’re getting for your points. (Photo by Digital Media Pro/Shutterstock.)

Southwest points value

The number of points needed to book a Southwest Airlines flight depends directly on the advertised fare.

Wanna Get Away (Southwest’s cheapest fare) award flight bookings cost roughly 76 points per dollar. This means each Southwest point is in theory worth ~1.32 cents ($1 / 76 Southwest points) towards Southwest’s cheap Wanna Get Away flights. However, this is calculated against the base fare without the taxes and fees.

To calculate the value of each point for your specific flight, use the following formula:

(Cash price of ticket – taxes and fees you’d pay on the award ticket) / number of points required for an award ticket

The detail to know about award flights is that you do not have to pay the following fees.

  • Excise taxes, including:
    • 7.5% of base fare for domestic travel within the Continental U.S.
    • US Transportation Tax of $18.60 each way for travel between the continental U.S. and Puerto Rico
  • Federal segment fee of $4.20 that will be imposed on each flight segment.  Flight segment is defined as a takeoff and a landing
  • Airport assessed Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs) of up to $18

On domestic award flights, you will pay a government-imposed September 11th Security Fee of $5.60 per one-way trip.

How to find out how much Southwest points are worth for your flight

Here a few examples of flights where you can get more value, less value, and somewhere right around the middle for each Southwest point. Also, I’ll add in an international trip as well (because taxes and fees on those are a little different).

Los Angeles to San Francisco

Here’s a ~$65 one-way flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If you booked the same itinerary as an award flight, you’d pay 3,677 Southwest points.

On this particular flight, you can get ~1.61 cents per point (($64.98 cash fare – $5.60 taxes) / 3,677 points). That’s an above-average deal.

Atlanta to Orlando

This flight from Atlanta to Orlando costs ~$191 in cash one-way.

The same flight would set you back 12,820 Southwest points and the same $5.60 security fee.

On this flight, you can get ~1.45 cents per point (($190.98 cash fare – $5.60 taxes) /12,820 points)! That’s closer to average.

Houston to Cabo San Lucas

International flights are a little trickier because you’ll pay additional taxes, which you’ll have to pay separately along with points on an award ticket.

Here’s a flight between Houston and Cabo San Lucas. Including taxes, you’d pay ~$193 for a paid flight.

The taxes and fees on international flights are higher.

For an award ticket, you’d pay 10,530 points and ~$34 in taxes. The extra taxes are from an additional Mexico tourism fee you must pay on paid and award tickets.

In this situation, you’re getting a slightly lower value than average. For this particular ticket, your Southwest points are worth ~1.28 cents each (($192.72 cash fare – $34.62 taxes) / 10,530 points).

Of course, if you have the Southwest Companion Pass, you can get nearly double the value for your points. To qualify for the Companion Pass, you’ll need to earn 125,000 Southwest points in a calendar year. Once you have it, a friend or family member can fly with you on paid and award tickets for just the cost of taxes and fees.

You can earn Southwest Companion Pass qualifying points quickly from the following cards:

Bottom line

The value of Southwest points varies depending on the route and other factors. On average, Southwest points are worth ~1.5 cents each.

To figure out the Southwest points value on your particular flight, use the following formula:

(Cash price of ticket – taxes and fees you’d pay on the award ticket) / number of points required for an award ticket

You’ll find on international flights you’ll typically get a lower value per points because the taxes and fees on an award ticket are usually higher.

It’s easy to earn Southwest points from cards like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit CardSouthwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card and Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit CardOr transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

What’s the best value you’ve gotten from your Southwest points?

*Value based on MMS valuation and not provided by issuer

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Jason Stauffer is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, he covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

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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