Southwest points value: What are they worth?

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Determining an exact value for a Southwest point 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 1.4 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 (although Southwest has lowered the requirements for 2021). 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:

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 your Companion Pass was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020, you can now use it through Dec. 31, 2021 — six months longer than the previous extension
  • 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 had travel credit set to expire between March 1 and June 30, 2020, Southwest has pushed the expiration date back to Sep. 7, 2022

Bottom line

The value of Southwest points varies depending on the route and other factors. On average, Southwest points are worth ~1.4 cents each, per our estimations. 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 point 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.

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Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

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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