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Southwest is widely known as the biggest low-cost airline in the US, with GREAT policies like no cancellation fees and free checked bags!
If you’re wondering if it’s worth investing your time into their frequent flyer program, you should know that there are a number of credit cards that can put you on the fast-track to the program’s amazing perks. Earning welcome bonuses on the following cards, for instance, currently still counts towards the points requirement to qualify for the Southwest Companion Pass, one of the best deals in travel!
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
I’ll go over how you can earn and redeem Southwest points, and what perks you can look forward to.
Here’s our Southwest Rapid Rewards review!
Southwest Rapid Rewards Review
What Are Southwest Points Worth?
Southwest points are generally worth around 1.5 cents per point toward Southwest flights. Though depending on the specific route you’re looking to fly, you could get slightly more or less value.
The price of a Southwest award flight is directly related to the cash price of the ticket. So it’s easier than most airlines to estimate the value of Southwest points. Plus, if Southwest is having a sale, both the cash price and the award price will decrease!
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.
How to Use Southwest Points
1. Award Flights on Southwest, and Booking International Flights
The most straightforward way to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points is to book an award flight on Southwest.
You can also book international flights (you can find this option through the Southwest travel portal), but if you’re looking to squeeze as much value as you can out of the points, you’ll likely be better off sticking with domestic flights.
2. Hotels and Rental Cars
Although Southwest points can’t be transferred to hotels or car rental agencies, they can still be incredibly useful!
If you book through the Southwest travel portal, you’ll have the option of redeeming your points for car rentals and hotel stays. They’re generally not a good deal.
3. Gift Cards and Other Merchandise
Southwest offers the option to redeem your points on various merchandise and gift cards via their website. Again, not the best way to spend your points, because you generally will only get a value of ~0.6 cents per point.
You can do a lot better when you spend your points on FLIGHTS.
How to Earn Southwest Points
You can earn points in a number of different ways, such as:
- Swiping credit cards
- Making purchases through the Southwest shopping portal
- Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- Buying points directly from Southwest
- Flying Southwest
Here are the details on the different ways you can earn Southwest points!
1. Credit Cards
Southwest offers the following 4 versions of the card to earn points with their loyalty program:
|Card Name||Welcome Bonus||Our Review|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card||Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months.||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card||Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card||Earn 40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||Earn 60,000 Southwest points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months||Our Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card|
Perhaps the best part is that points you earn from the welcome bonuses on these cards currently still count toward the point requirement for the Southwest Companion Pass! With the Southwest Companion Pass, you can bring a friend or family member with you for free whenever you travel on Southwest. It doesn’t matter if your flight is booked with points or paid for with cash – your companion flies free!
You’ll need to earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year to qualify. Read this full guide to the Southwest Companion Pass for every detail you could possibly want to know!
2. Make Purchases Through Partners
Southwest partners with a number of hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants, etc. Making a purchase at any of these partners means you’ll have the opportunity to earn even more Southwest points.
A full list of their partners is listed here, but a few examples include:
- World of Hyatt
- Choice Hotels
3. Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards Programs
If you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you’ll have the flexibility of transferring them to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account!
Here are the most popular Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points:
|Card Name||Welcome Bonus||Our Review|
|Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card||Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Read our review of the #1 card for beginners|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Earn 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Read our review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card||Earn $500 bonus cash back (50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||Read our review of the Ink Business Unlimited|
|Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card||Earn $500 cash back bonus (50,000 Ultimate Rewards points) after spending $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account||Read our review of the Ink Business Cash|
|Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card||Earn 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening||Read our review of the top card pick for small business owners|
Chase Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.
4. Buy Southwest Points
If you’re just shy a few points to book a hotel or flight, buying Southwest points is another option. This generally isn’t the best way to stock up on points though, since you won’t be able to redeem them for anywhere near the amount you paid.
You can buy points in varying amounts, and depending on how many points you purchase, you’ll spend ~2.5 to 3 cents per point. Ouch.
5. Fly Southwest Airlines
You will, of course, also be able to earn Southwest points when you fly with the airline. The number of points you can earn are based on 2 things:
- Your status with Southwest
- The fare type you’ve purchased
|Status Level||Points Earned Per $1 Spent|
|Base||• Wanna Get Away: 6 points
• Anytime: 10
• Business Select: 12
|A-List||• Wanna Get Away: 7.5
• Anytime: 12.5
• Business Select: 15
|A-List Preferred||• Wanna Get Away: 12
• Anytime: 20
• Business Select: 24
To attain A-List status, you’ll need to complete 25 one-way qualifying flights OR earn 35,000 qualifying tier points in a calendar year.
You’ll earn A-List Preferred status by flying 50 one-way qualifying flights OR earning 70,000 qualifying tier points in a calendar year.
Do Southwest Points Expire?
Yes, Southwest points do expire after 24 months of inactivity. Here are 9 things you can do to keep your points from expiring.
If the thought of flying for less appeals to you, be it with cash or points, Southwest is a great option. They’re widely known as one of the largest domestic low-cost carriers!
There are a number of ways to earn Southwest points, such as using credit cards and making purchases through their shopping portal. And you have more flexibility than you may think in redeeming those points. You can book a number of flights, reserve rental cars, and make hotel reservations through the Southwest travel portal!
If you earn enough points, you could qualify for one of the best deals in travel – the Southwest Companion Pass!
Check out our guides for using Southwest Airlines miles:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Review
- Southwest Points Value
- Southwest Status
- Best Ways to Use Southwest Points
- Everything to Know About the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Use the Southwest Companion Pass
- How to Earn Southwest Points
- How to Setup a Southwest Account
- How to Use Southwest Points
- Southwest Award Chart
- Do Southwest Points Expire?
Let us know your experiences with the Southwest program and what you think about it! And subscribe to our newsletter for more guides to traveling on the cheap: