Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards is a type of rewards point system that features customer-friendly policies, high earning potential and a great average points value.
On top of being able to earn quite a bit of value from their program, you can get even more value out of it by using Southwest’s Companion Pass. Continue reading our Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards guide to learn more!
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Table of Contents
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Quick Facts
|Domestic Hubs||Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix|
|Personal Credit Cards||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
|Business Credit Cards||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
|Redemption Options||Southwest flights, international flights, hotel stays, rental cars, merchandise, gift cards & charitable donations|
|Average Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Value||$0.015|
Rapid Rewards Elite Status
Signing up for Rapid Rewards allows you to earn points toward award flights and elite status. At the higher tiers, such as the A-List and A-List Preferred, you will have the ability to earn more points and unlock additional benefits.
To achieve A-List or A-List Preferred status, you need to earn a certain number of tier-qualifying points or fly a certain number of qualifying one-way flights in one calendar year. Once you gain elite status, it’s good through the end of the following calendar year.
|A-List||35,000 points or 25 one-way flights|
|A-List Preferred||70,000 points or 50 one-way flights|
Qualifying one way flights. This means any flight that you take that goes from the origin to the destination. For example, a flight from Los Angles to Chicago counts as one flight no matter how many stops there are in between.
Tier-qualifying points. Don’t get these points confused with Rapid Reward points. These types of points are earned by purchasing tickets for Southwest flights or using the Rapid Rewards Priority or Rapid Rewards Premier credit cards.
|Points bonus||25% on flights||100% on flights|
|Expedited security lanes||Yes||Yes|
|Free same-day standby||Yes||Yes|
|Free in-flight WiFi||No||Yes|
|Dedicated customer service line||Yes||Yes|
As mentioned above, you can get a lot of value from your Rapid Rewards points when you pair with the Southwest Companion Pass. This pass is by far one of the most valuable aspects of the program. It allows a guest to fly with you for for free, not including taxes and fees, which starts at $5.60 one way.
To get the Companion Pass, you must earn 125,000 qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in one calendar year. Qualifying points include points earned from Southwest tickets, Southwest credit cards and base points earned from select Rapid Rewards partners.
Collecting Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program is a point system, not miles, so you can earn these rewards through various methods. This includes flying Southwest, using a Southwest credit card, shopping or dining with program partners and more.
Earn Rapid Rewards points by flying with Southwest. The number of points you’ll earn depends on the cost of the ticket, the fare type and your status.
|Basic||None||Business Select: 12x points
Anytime: 10x points
Wanna Get Away: 6x points
|A-List||25%||Business Select: 15x points
Anytime: 12.5x points
Wanna Get Away: 7.5x points
|A-List Preferred||100%|| Business Select: 24x points
Anytime: 20x points
Wanna Get Away: 12x points
Wanna Get Away. These are the cheapest fares and have no additional benefits.
Anytime. These are a little more flexible than “Wanna Get Away” fares. Canceled trips can be refunded as the original form of payment, or you can use your refund towards another flight for up to 12 months.
Business Select. Passengers flying Business Select can access priority security, priority boarding and one complimentary premium inflight beverage of your choice.
The method of using credit cards will be your fastest and easiest way to start earning Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards. There are actually three credit cards that are co-branded rewards cards issued by Chase.
Welcome BonusGet 50k Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards when you spend $3k in 3 months.
Get another 50k Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards when you spend $20k in 1 year.Welcome BonusWelcome Bonus
|Features||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card|
|Welcome bonus||65,000 points||65,000 points||65,000 points|
|$2,000 in the first 3 months||$2,000 in the first 3 months||$2,000 in the first 3 months|
|Ongoing Rewards/Benefits||2x on Southwest
1x on everything else
|2x on Southwest
1x on everything else
|2x on Southwest
1x on everything else
|Foreign Transaction Fees||No||No||3%|
|Anniversary bonus||7,500 points||6,000 points||3,000 points|
|Upgraded Boardings||4 per year||–||–|
|Inflight drinks & WiFi||20% back||–||–|
|Elite status||Earn tier-qualifying points||Earn tier-qualifying points||–|
Earn Rapid Rewards points with the following travel partners.
- Southwest Hotels
- Best Western
- Choice Hotels
- MGM Resorts
On top of earning points through flights and the partners we’ve listed before, you can also consider shopping and dining partners. Here are some we recommend:
Shopping and dining partners
- Rapid Rewards Shopping
- Rapid Rewards Dining
- Harry & David
Home and lifestyle partners
- Make It Count
- Emergency Assistance Plus
- Rewards for Opinions
You can purchase points for an average of $0.0275 each, but we generally advise against it. We value each Rapid Rewards point at $0.015 each, so you’ll be losing out on a lot when you buy points instead of earning them.
Spending Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
You can start redeeming your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards for award flights. Also, as long as you make a purchase through either Southwest or one of their partners every 24 months, your points won’t expire.
- Award Flights
- Southwest flights. Point pricing is all determined by the award ticket’s cash price. The value of Southwest award flights can go as high as $0.015 per point, although you could push it to $0.03 if you’re lucky.
- International flights. You can use your Rapid Rewards to book flight to over 50 carriers that Southwest normally doesn’t fly to. However, you will only net about $0.01 per point, which is lower than normal.
- Other Options
- Hotel stays. Book an award stay through the Southwest travel portal. Award pricing depends on hotel location, proximity to attractions, quality and dates.
- Rental cars. Book a rental car using your Rapid Rewards points via the Southwest travel portal. Award pricing varies based on location, cash price and demand.
- Merchandise & gift cards. Redeem your Rapid Rewards points for merchandise and gift cards, but they’re not the best use for your points. Expect to get a value of just $0.006 per point.
- Charitable donations. Make a difference by donating your Rapid Rewards points to charity. Organizations include the American Red Cross, Make-A-Wish, Ronald McDonald House Charities and more.
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Tips & Tricks
Using the information compiled from our research, we’ve noticed some great deals using sweet spots you can access using your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points.
- Book Award Flights Early
- There aren’t any cancellation or change fees associated with Southwest Rapid Rewards. Then, when you book an award flight, then cancel it, you will get a full points refund.
- Since award pricing tends to increase closer to your date of travel, you should book your award ticket as soon as you can. Even if you’re not sure you’ll be able to go.
- Rebook Tickets
- Save your points, if you can, and rebook award tickets when they go on sale. Since there are no change fees, you will get a refund of the difference that will go straight to your rewards balance.
- Use Hidden Cities
- Although this sounds like going to cities that aren’t on the map, it is actually the practice of booking a flight to a destination and getting off on the layover.
- This allows you to go to the place you actually want to go to for the price of your destination, assuming it is cheaper to do it this way. Although some airliners discourage this practice, Southwest allows you to do this. If you do this, make sure to check your bags to the layover point.
- Status Match
- Occasionally, Southwest will offer A-List status holders who have elite status with another program. This is part of their Southwest Status Match.
Southwest Credit Cards
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card offers 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. In addition, you'll earn 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary & get $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
You'll earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases & Rapid Rewards® hotel/car rental partner purchases; 1x point on all other purchases.
Some perks include receiving 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available, savings of 20% back on in-flight drinks and WiFi, and more!
This card carries a $149 annual fee and no transaction fees.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card offers 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. In addition, you'll earn 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
You'll earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases & Rapid Rewards® hotel/car rental partner purchases; 1x point on all other purchases. You're able to redeem your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events and more.
This card does carry a $99 annual fee, but there are no foreign transaction fee.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card offers 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. In addition, you'll earn 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
You'll earn 2x points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases & Rapid Rewards® hotel/car rental partner purchases; 1x point on all other purchases - in which all points earned with either card count towards Companion Pass.
You're able to redeem your your points for flights, hotel stays, gift cards, access to events & more!
This card does carry a $69 annual fee.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card offers 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open in addition to 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
You'll earn 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.
This card does carry a $99 annual fee and there are no foreign transaction fees.
The Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card offers 70,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn an additional 30,000 points after you spend $25,000 on purchases in the first 6 months.
This card earns 3X points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases. 2X points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
In addition, you can score 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary, get 4 upgraded boarding passes per year, and more!
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®!
You'll earn 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. And when you redeem your points for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll get 25% more value!
This card carries a $95 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
You'll earn 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. When redeeming your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you'll get 50% more value.
This card does carry a $550 annual fee and there are no foreign transaction fees. However, you're able to earn a $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year & up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre?®.
Southwest Airlines is one of the biggest budget carriers in the United States, so frequent flyers should take advantage of this program.
With that being said, Rapid Rewards is probably one of the best low-cost frequent flyer programs with various routes, Companion pass, and more!