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Southwest is the biggest low-cost airline in the U.S. and is widely known for great policies like no cancellation fees and free checked bags.
If you’re wondering if it’s worth joining their frequent flyer program, Southwest Rapid Rewards, 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. In addition, the welcome bonuses on the best Southwest credit cards currently still count toward the points required 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
These three personal credit cards come with up to 75,000 bonus points after meeting tiered spending requirements:
- 40,000 points after spending $1,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening
- 35,000 additional points after spending a total of $5,000 on purchases within the first six months of account opening.
There are also two small business credit cards:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
We’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
Southwest points value generally can be found around 1.5 cents each toward Southwest flights. Depending on the specific route you’re looking to fly, you could get slightly more or less value. There is no Southwest award chart — 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 value of Southwest points 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
Award flights on Southwest and booking international flights
The most straightforward way to use Southwest 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 to get the most value out of points, you’ll likely be better off sticking with domestic flights.
Hotels and rental cars
Although Southwest points can’t be transferred to hotels or car rental agencies, you can redeem your points for car rentals and hotel stays through the Southwest travel portal. However, these bookings are generally not a good deal.
Gift cards and other merchandise
You can redeem your Southwest points for merchandise and gift cards via their website. Again, however, this is 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 Southwest points in a number of different ways:
- 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:
Southwest offers the five versions of the Rapid Rewards card for earning points with their loyalty program
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 125,000 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.
Make purchases through partners
Southwest partners with a number of hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants, etc. Making a purchase at any of these partners earns more Southwest points.
A full list of their partners is here, but a few examples include:
- World of Hyatt
- Choice Hotels
Transfer points from Chase Ultimate Rewards programs
If you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, you can transfer 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.
Buy Southwest points
If you’re shy just 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.
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 two 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 nine things you can do to keep your points from expiring.
If the thought of flying for less appeals to you, Southwest is a great option.
If you’re paying cash, they’re the largest domestic low-cost carrier.
If you want to pay for flights with points, there are a number of ways to earn them with Southwest, such as using credit cards and making purchases through their shopping portal.
If you earn enough points, you could qualify for one of the best deals in travel: the Southwest Companion Pass. Let us know your experiences with the Southwest program and what you think about it.
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