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Southwest points value: What are they worth?

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Southwest points value: What are they worth?

Joseph HostetlerSouthwest points value: What are they worth?Million Mile Secrets Team

Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Determining an exact value for a Southwest points is easier than with most airlines because the price of an award flight is directly related to the cash price of the ticket.

So how much are Southwest Rapid Rewards points worth? It varies slightly depending on the route, time of year, and other factors, but in general, you can expect to get an average of 1.5 cents per point in value. At times, they can be worth even more. But when prices are low, like they are now, the value you get per point can be less.

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

I’ll show you some examples to see what Southwest points are worth and how to calculate their value in your situation.

What’s the value of Southwest points? We’ll show you how to figure out what they’re worth. (Photo by KGrif/iStock by Getty Images)

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

On domestic award flights, you will pay a government-imposed September 11th Security Fee of $5.60 per one-way trip. The fees for other awards will vary, but are clearly displayed when booking an award.

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 ~$49 one-way flight between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If you booked the same itinerary as an award flight, you’d pay 3,033 Southwest points.

On this particular flight, you can get ~1.43 cents per point (($48.98 cash fare – $5.60 taxes) / 3,033 points). That’s about an average deal.

Baltimore to Denver

This flight from Baltimore to Denver costs ~$212 in cash one-way.

The same flight would set you back 15,396 Southwest points and the same $5.60 security fee.

 

On this flight, you can get ~1.34 cents per point (($211.98 cash fare – $5.60 taxes) /15,396 points). That’s that slightly below-average deal.

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 ~$333 for a paid flight.

For an award ticket, you’d pay 23,166 points and ~$32 in taxes. The extra taxes are from an additional Mexico tourism fee you must pay.

In this situation, you’re getting a lower value than average because of the taxes. For this particular ticket, your Southwest points are worth ~1.30 cents each (($333.27 cash fare – $31.77 taxes) / 23,166 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:

The information for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Performance Business card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Southwest’s COVID-19 changes

Southwest has made some great changes in the wake of the coronavirus:

  • If you currently possess Southwest A-List or A-List Preferred elite status, Southwest is letting you keep it through December 31, 2021
  • If you’ve got a Southwest Companion Pass set to expire on December 31, 2020, you can now use it through June 30, 2021 — six months longer than normal
  • Southwest is making their elite status and the Southwest Companion Pass easier to earn this year by providing all Southwest Rapid Rewards members the following:
    • 15,000 qualifying points/10 flight credits toward A-List and A-List Preferred status
    • 25,000 qualifying points/25 flight credits toward the Companion Pass
  • If you’ve got travel credit set to expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020, Southwest has pushed the expiration date back to September 7, 2022. This extends to any travel credit offered due to cancellations between March 1 and June 30, 2020
  • Southwest will soon allow members to convert travel funds into Southwest points. Any funds created between March 1 and September 7, 2020, can take advantage of this offer. The amount of points you’ll receive per dollar will be roundabout the same number of points it costs to book a dollar’s worth of Southwest flights (generally 78ish points per dollar)

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. Also, when prices are low (like now) the value you get per point will typically be less.

It’s easy to earn Southwest points by opening a Southwest credit card or transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points from rewards cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

*Value based on MMS valuation and not provided by issuer

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Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 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.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events, and more.

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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Please ignore my last comment. I forgot to double the points since it was a rountrip, not a one way. Is it worth buying points right now on SW? They’re having a deal that if you buy 15,000 points or more, you save 45%. (60,000 points for $907.50)

Are points worth more right now? So I just did the math for a roundtrip flight from SFO to LAX, ($98), or 3,0333 points. The math I got out of this was $98-$11.20/3,033 = 2.86 cents per point. Is this correct? Are the points worth alot more right now?

Are these cards set up or can they be set up where purchases are paid off immediately from my Wells Fargo thus forgoing any interest or other charges except for my annual fee?

I’m not sure about paid off immediately. Just set up automatic payments to pay the full balance every month. It takes 5 minutes one time and you never have to think about it again. No late payments, interest or other charges to worry about.

I would argue the points are worth a lot more than just the purchase price you get with them! SWA treats tickets purchased with points as fully refundable tickets. There are times when that kind of flexibility is very valuable (such as for me, so I can book flights for a parent in poor health, who might not be able to travel as planned). Valuing this flexibility is very subjective, but I would put it at 2 cents a point for me, taking into consideration how much I would pay for a fully refundable ticket.

Well said. This is far better than the travel funds, which expire. We had a situation with one of our parents’ health, and unfortunately the did expire. Points refunded, would have been much better.

I would like to know when the next academy will be. You did that in Dallas a couple of years ago. I learned alot at the meeting in Dallas.

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