How To Earn Rapid Rewards Points
Instead of rewarding traditional airline miles, Rapid Rewards operates on a points system. You can earn points several ways: by flying on Southwest, by shopping and dining with partners, or with a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card. Southwest is also a transfer partner of the Chase Ultimate Rewards® program.
As of October 2019, Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire. However, if you opt to close your account, the points in your account will be terminated.
How Much Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Are Worth
Based on our most recent analysis, NerdWallet values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.4 cents apiece. To determine the value of reward miles, we compared cash prices and reward redemptions for economy roundtrip routes across several destinations and dates. We divided the cost of the cash ticket by the cost of the reward ticket to determine a cent per point value for each flight, then averaged this value across several flights and dates. Read more about how we arrived at these figures.
This is, therefore, a baseline value for Southwest points, based on real-world data collected from hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1.4 cents or more in value from your Southwest points.
To determine the value of your miles for specific flights, divide the cash value of the ticket by the number of miles required for the flight. So if the ticket would cost either $100, or 15,000 miles + $10 in taxes/fees, the math would be as follows:
/ 15,000 = 0.006, or 0.6 cent per mile.
Buy Points Through Southwest
If you need just a few more points to book that special trip or take advantage of a sweet sale deal on a Southwest flight, you could find yourself scrambling to make up the difference. We always recommend transferring points from partner accounts, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, but sometimes it doesnt work out. In those moments, it might make sense to buy the rest of the points you need directly from Southwest, even though the exchange rate will be poor in comparison to most of the other options listed here.
Youre limited to purchasing Rapid Rewards points in increments of 1,000 during promotional periods and 500 during all other times, with a minimum purchase of 2,000 points. The daily maximum is a combined 60,000 points on personal and gift purchases.
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Southwest Elite Status Boost For 2020
Many U.S. airlines lowered the threshold to earn elite status in 2020. Southwest took a slightly different approach. Instead of lowering thresholds, Southwest provided all travelers with an elite status boost to make it easier to achieve its status levels. These boosts should already be reflected in your Rapid Rewards account:
- 15,000 tier qualifying points
- 10 qualifying one-way flight segments toward tier status
This effectively lowers the requirements for earning Southwest elite status in 2020 to the following:
- A-List: 20,000 Tier Qualifying Points or 15 qualifying flights
- A-List Preferred: 55,000 Tier Qualifying Points or 40 qualifying flights
Southwest More Rewards Options
The Southwest More Rewards site provides a few more options for Rapid Rewards members who arent satisfied with their flight choices on Southwest. Unfortunately, the value of most items on the More Rewards site is so poor, we advise against using your points this way.
Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for gift cards
You can find gift cards for a wide variety of restaurants and retailers on the More Rewards site, with amounts ranging from $25 to $100. Youll get the best return on $50 to $100 increments, but the value of gift cards is poor across the board, averaging only 0.7 cents per point.
Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for merchandise
You can redeem Rapid Rewards points for a variety of merchandise, including clothing, electronics and home furnishings. As with most rewards programs, merchandise is one of the worst ways to redeem your points: Youll only get 0.6 cents per point on average.
Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for car rentals
You can use Rapid Rewards points to rent cars at a selection of agencies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National. Your Rapid Rewards points are worth only 0.7 cents per point on average when redeemed this way, though.
Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for international flights
Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for hotels
Redeeming Rapid Rewards points for Southwest Experiences
Refer A Friend To A Southwest Credit Card
Southwest credit cards are included under Chases refer-a-friend program, so get those referral links ready, because you can score a ton of Rapid Rewards points 10,000 points per referral, up to 50,000 points total in a calendar year by referring friends and family to a Southwest card.
The refer-a-friend bonus applies to all cards within the Southwest suite, including the business cards. Even better news: Southwest updated its refer-a-friend program in 2019, which means that current Southwest cardholders can earn bonuses on any Southwest card their referral applies for.
Dont Risk Your Account For Extra Points
If the card issuer believes that youre gaming the system, it can close all your accounts and blacklist you from ever opening another account with them in the future.
So whats considered gaming the system and whats not? Thats all up to the discretion of the card issuer, but here are two examples to illustrate the difference:
- Jim shops at Whole Foods anyway, so he picks up a $100 gift card twice a month at an office supply store, where his card earns five points per $1. This is a savvy way to earn 1,000 points, and its unlikely to set off any alarm bells with his card issuer.
The bottom line is that a gift card purchase here and there wont be an issue, and it can help you score some extra points. Its when consumers manufacture large amounts of spending that card issuers take notice and potentially decide to get rid of those clients.
For that reason, you should stick to buying gift cards that you plan to use. The last thing you want is to lose your credit card just because the card issuer believes you were gaming its rewards program.
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Shop Through The Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
If you arent already using a shopping portal to maximize earnings while you shop online, youre missing out. Fortunately, its never too late to begin. In case you arent familiar with shopping portals, they provide one of the easiest and most lucrative ways to boost your earnings on purchases youd make anyway anything from home goods and apparel to jewelry and sporting equipment.
The Rapid Rewards Shopping portal is an online gateway that offers higher points earnings on purchases from Southwest partner retailers. Depending on the merchant, you can easily earn double, triple or even 10 times the points youd earn using your credit card alone, in just a few quick steps:
- Go to the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal and enter your Southwest login credentials.
- Find the retailer you want to shop with to see if the portal offers extra points on purchases from that store.
- Shop as usual! You should be able to use any form of payment, including gift cards.
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
- The annual fee is $95.
- Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in combined purchases on travel, shipping purchases, Internet, cable and phone services, advertising purchases made with social media sites and search engines each account anniversary year. Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchaseswith no limit to the amount you can earn.
- Points are worth 1.25 cents each when used to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
- Additional employee cards come at no cost.
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It Eliminates Expiration Dates And Increases Flexibility
Southwest travel funds expire within two years but Southwest points do not expire. If youre like many other would-be travelers, youre probably not certain when youll travel again. May as well ensure the safety of your travel funds by converting them to points and patiently waiting for travel to return.
Additionally, Southwest points allow you to book a ticket for anyone, while travel funds can only be used for those whose name is attached to the certificate. So if youre ever booking a flight for a family member or friend, youll be much better off with points over funds.
How To Earn Rapid Rewards Elite Status
To attain A-List or A-List Preferred status, you must fly a certain number of qualifying one-way flights or earn a certain number of tier qualifying points in a calendar year. You gain elite status as soon as you earn it, and it’s good through the next calendar year.
A qualifying one-way flight is defined as a trip from origin to destination, including any connections. So if youre flying from Los Angeles to Chicago Midway Airport, it counts as a single one-way flight regardless of whether the flight is nonstop or you have to change planes.
Tier qualifying points are counted differently from Rapid Rewards points. Although you can obtain Rapid Rewards points in all sorts of ways , there are only two ways to earn tier qualifying points:1. Purchasing tickets for Southwest flights.2. Using the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card. With either card, you earn 1,500 tier qualifying points for each $10,000 spent, up to 15,000 tier qualifying points per year.
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Earning Southwest Rapid Rewards Points With Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards
You can also rack up Southwest Rapid Rewards points by earning Chase Ultimate Rewards points with one of Chase’s several Ultimate Rewards-earning travel credit cards. Chase allows you to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 rate.
These credit cards are ideal if you want more flexibility in how you redeem your rewards, as you can also redeem these points for a variety of flights, hotel stays and more. Depending on your spending habits, you might also find that you’re able to earn points at a faster rate with these cards than with a Southwest co-branded card.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® cards are two of the most popular travel credit cards on the market. They come with generous sign-up bonuses and high earn rates. While the annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is significantly higher , it also comes with some very high-value perks such as a $300 annual travel credit and complimentary airport lounge access. If you’re a business owner, you might want to consider the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which offers bonus points on select business spending and the biggest sign-up bonus of all three cards.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card
Your Ultimate Guide To The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Program
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The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is one of the most flexible airline loyalty programs out there. Earning Rapid Rewards points is incredibly easy and redeeming them is extremely simple. With the program, you never have to worry about blackout dates or award availability as long as theres a seat available for sale, you can use your Rapid Rewards points to book yourself a free flight.
Aside from the easy-to-use program, theres also another huge benefit: You can cancel a flight booked on points for absolutely no fee. As long as you cancel 10 minutes prior to the flights departure time, all points redeemed will go back into your account, and all taxes and fees will be refunded back to the credit card used.
Additionally, points never expire, all passengers can check two bags for no fee and with the coveted Southwest Companion Pass, another passenger can fly with you an unlimited number of times for almost free.
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How Many Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Do You Need For A Free Flight
Like most airlines, Southwest doesn’t operate with a fixed award chart anymore, but unlike airlines such as Delta Air Lines, the number of points you need to redeem for a flight on Southwest doesn’t seem completely random. It’s usually tied to the cash fare. This means that, just like airfare, the points price depends on the route, distance, time of year, demand and other factors.
However, it’s not hard to find flights that get you around 1.5 cents to 2.0 cents per point. In other words, a flight that costs $400 in cash is likely to cost around 22,000 points.
You Can Purchase Southwest Flights At A Discount
With this method, youre essentially buying Southwest points for 1.28 cents each. The average value of Southwest points is 1.5 cents toward Southwest flights, although redemption values can sometimes be as low as 1.3 cents per point. For example, if you open a personal Southwest credit card and earned its 65,000 point bonus after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, you could redeem them for $835 to $975 in Southwest flights.
Buying points for 1.28 cents and redeeming them for 1.5 cents is a nice way to get a sizable discount on Southwest flights youd pay for anyway.
If you have any Amex airline incidental credits left, you may be able to effectively turn those credits into Southwest points. Southwest flights under $100 have been known to trigger the Amex airline credit . You can buy a cheap Southwest flight which will hopefully trigger the airline credit on your Amex card, cancel the flight, receive a refund in the form of a travel voucher and then convert the voucher into points.
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How To Shop With Southwest More Rewards If You Still Want To
If you really want to burn those airline points on stuff , heres how to do it. Visit the More Rewards page and under Redeem for More Rewards, click Explore Rewards.
Youll be redirected to log in as a Rapid Rewards cardmember you need to hold a Southwest credit card to spend your points through the More Rewards program. From there, its like online shopping. Find an item you like, add it to your shopping bag and enter your shipping details. Just dont be fooled by the attempt to congratulate you on getting a really good deal you probably didnt.
How To Earn The Southwest Companion Pass
The Southwest Companion Pass allows a friend or family member to fly with you for free throughout the life of the pass. To earn the pass, you need to earn 125,000 qualifying points within a calendar year. Points can be earned from flying eligible fares on Southwest, credit card spend on your Southwest co-branded credit card or from Southwest Rapid Rewards partner activity.
Once you earn the pass, its yours for the remainder of the year, plus the entire following year. For example, if you earn the pass in April 2022, the pass doesnt expire until Dec. 31, 2023. With the pass, your companion can fly with you an unlimited number of times with no blackout dates or any other restrictions.
While there are many ways to earn the pass, one of the easiest methods is through Southwest credit cards because the points earned from the sign-up bonus and regular credit card spend count as qualifying points. And with the current offer where you can earn up to 100,000 points, that can get you incredibly close to securing the pass.
Ultimately, the Southwest Rapid Rewards program is one of the simplest airline loyalty programs out there with many ways to earn points, as well as a straightforward redemption process.
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Transferring Credit Card Points To Rapid Rewards
Two credit card rewards programs offer the opportunity to transfer points to Rapid Rewards: Diners Club and Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Diners Club cardholders can convert Diners Club Rewards points to Rapid Rewards points at a rate of 1,500 Diners Club points to 1,200 Rapid Rewards points.
If you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards® from a Chase Sapphire® Card, you can also convert those points to Ultimate Rewards® at a one-to-one rate. You must transfer a minimum of 1,000 points.
You can also transfer points from rental car and hotel programs to Rapid Rewards, though unless you don’t anticipate using those points in their original form the exchange rate is pretty bad, so we don’t typically recommend this.
Other Things To Know About Southwest Rapid Rewards
Want to know more about maximizing Southwest Rapid Rewards? Check out some of our other guides below.
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