When comparing airline loyalty programs, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards is among the most versatile. Rapid Rewards points are simple to earn and even easier to use. There are no restrictions on when you can spend your Rapid Rewards points to reserve a flight. As long as seats are available for purchase, you can use your points to fly for free whenever you like.
The program’s simplicity is only one of its many advantages; another is that you can reschedule a flight paid for with points at no cost. If you cancel your flight at least 10 minutes before it leaves, you will get a full refund of the points you used to book it, plus any applicable taxes and fees credited to the card you paid with.
In addition, points never expire, each passenger can check two bags at no cost, and the much sought-after Southwest Companion Pass allows a second passenger to fly with you for nearly no additional cost, almost unlimited times.
How to earn Rapid Rewards points with Southwest
Even if you don’t frequently travel on Southwest, you can still rack up Rapid Rewards points in several other ways. Before booking a flight with Southwest, you can earn Rapid Rewards points through various partners and Southwest co-branded credit cards.
Signing up for the program is the first step, and it’s easy and free.
Fly with Southwest and accumulate Rapid Rewards points
Rewards points for paid flights on Southwest Airlines are calculated using fare class, price, and elite status.
Southwest has three tiers of tickets: Business Select, Anytime, and Wanna Get Away. While the Business Select and Anytime fares come with some nice extras, the Wanna Get Away fare is the best deal for most Southwest passengers. Please be aware that the following rates apply solely to the ticket price before taxes are included.
- Business Select tier: 12 points for every dollar spent
- Anytime tier: 10 points for every dollar spent
- Wanna Get Away tier: 6 points for every dollar spent
To accumulate more points with Southwest, you must be a member of the airline’s elite program. The A-List and A-List Preferred members will receive an extra 25% and 100% Rapid Rewards points, respectively.
Accumulate Southwest Rapid Rewards points via partners
Making everyday purchases is another great way to rack up Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Thanks to numerous partnerships with Southwest, you can earn Rapid Rewards points for non-air transactions, such as online shopping and car rentals.
Using the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal is one of the simplest ways to rack up bonus points. Most online transactions, especially those made at major shops, come with the opportunity to earn extra points for every dollar spent. The portal will take you directly to the website of the store you choose, where you can continue shopping as usual.
Instead of heading directly to Macy’s website, you might begin your online shopping experience with Southwest by visiting their shopping platform and searching for the department store. The portal will inform you of your actual point total (which may change over the year) before forwarding you to Macys.com. Your points should be deposited to your account within 12 weeks of placing your order. However, certain retailers may be faster than others.
You can rack up bonus points in the Rapid Rewards Dining program by eating at Southwest restaurants, just like when you shop online. When you dine at participating restaurants and use the credit card you linked to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account, you will earn points automatically.
You can get three times as many points for every dollar you spend if you agree to receive emails from the store. You’ll only get 1 point for every $2 if you don’t sign up to receive emails. You can earn various bonuses throughout the year, including joining the program, reaching spending goals, and rating and reviewing local eateries.
Hotels and auto rentals
You can also use your hotel and auto rental purchases credited to Southwest to earn Rapid Rewards points. You can earn 600 Rapid Rewards points with each of the eight vehicle rental partners (Hertz, Alamo, Budget, Avis, Dollar, Payless, National, and Thrifty). However, it would be best if you didn’t put your hotel stays on your Southwest account because you won’t earn points with the hotel.
In contrast, Southwest Hotels and Rocketmiles.com are the places to go if you want to book a room at a small, independent hotel that doesn’t have its own reward program. You can receive up to 10,000 Rapid Rewards points per booking with each of these ancillary hotel booking services. However, in practice, you’ll earn far less.
Besides Southwest Airlines, notable partners for Southwest Rapid Rewards include 1-800-Flowers for flower deliveries and e-Rewards for survey completions.
Accumulate Rapid Rewards points with a Southwest co-branded credit card
Southwest offers five co-branded credit cards: three for personal use and two for business use, all of which can be used to accrue Rapid Rewards points with Southwest. Each expenditure you make with any of the five cards will earn you points.
You’ll also find that some cards offer additional category points for spending in specific categories, such as airfare booked directly with Southwest, cellular phone plans, or local public transportation and work-related expenses.
Sign-up incentives for the airline’s various credit cards provide new cardholders with a substantial opportunity to accrue points quickly:
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Get 50,000 points once you spend $1,000 within the first three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Get 50,000 points once you spend $1,000 within the first three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Get 50,000 points once you spend $1,000 within the first three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Get 60,000 bonus points once you spend $3,000 within the first three months.
- Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Get 80,000 bonus points once you spend $5,000 within the first three months.
Suppose you’re looking for a more versatile card that lets you redeem points on Southwest and a wide variety of hotel and airline partners. In that case, you may consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. Both cards are a member of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program, from which you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to 14 different reward programs, among them Southwest.
This implies that you can immediately combine the points from the two cards into your existing Southwest Rapid Rewards account.
How to use Rapid Rewards points with Southwest
If you’re looking for a straightforward points redemption system, go no further than Southwest. There are no restrictions on travel or when awards are available. You can book any award flight with Rapid Rewards points as long as there’s a seat. The ticket price is proportional to the number of points required to purchase it.
Although Southwest does not publish a specific redemption rate, members may expect to get about 1.4 cents per point when redeemed for a Wanna Get Away Fare. Depending on the route and whether you’re traveling during an off-peak or peak time, it may take more or fewer points. If you have enough points, you can also use them to purchase Anytime or Business Select tickets; however, doing so requires a more significant expenditure of points for negligible additional value.
Once you’ve logged onto the Southwest website, all you have to do to cash in on your points is input the city pairs and travel dates you’d like to use them for. Once there, you’ll have the option of selecting either a cash fare or redeeming points. In addition, a calendar view makes it simple to choose a date with fewer required points if you can be flexible with your travel dates.
There are a few additional non-airline partnership ways to redeem your points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards card. Still, the value of doing so is incredibly minimal. We don’t suggest these alternate redemptions, but they’re there if you want to spend down your balance. The More Rewards portal is the only place to use your points for vehicle rentals, merchandise, events, gift cards, and trips.
The secret to becoming a Southwest Airlines Elite
At Southwest, you can become either an A-Lister or an A-List Preferred customer. While neither of these elite tiers will get you a first-class seat (because Southwest only offers a single seat type), you will receive additional benefits that will make flying with them more enjoyable.
To achieve A-List status with Southwest, you must either complete 25 one-way eligible flights or collect 35,000 tier qualifying points within a calendar year. Advantages include 25% extra points earned on all qualifying flights, security lane access and priority check-in, a dedicated phone line, same-day standby, and priority boarding.
Suppose you want A-List Preferred status with Southwest Airlines. In that case, you’ll need to double your annual qualifying flight total to 50 or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points. In addition to the perks afforded to A-List members, you will receive a 100% bonus on all eligible flights and free access to the internet while in the air.
You can earn points toward elite status by making purchases with most Southwest co-branded credit cards or flying on Southwest Airlines on qualified paid flights.
Southwest Companion Pass: How to get one
For the duration of your Southwest Companion Pass, a friend or family member can fly with you for no additional cost (just the usual taxes and duties). You need to earn 135,000 qualifying points within a calendar year to be eligible for the pass; however, if you hold a Southwest Rapid Reward credit card on the first business day of the year, you will receive a one-time annual boost of 10,000 points.
You can earn points by traveling on Southwest at a qualifying fare level, making purchases with your Southwest co-branded credit card, or engaging in Rapid Rewards partner activities.
The pass is valid for the rest of the current year and the following year once earned. Your pass will be valid until December 31, 2024, if you obtain it in January 2023. There are no restrictions on the number of times or days of the week that your travel partner can travel with you with this pass.
There are several ways to acquire the pass, but using a Southwest credit card is relatively painless because both the sign-up bonus and ordinary credit card spending count toward qualifying points. Furthermore, new cardholders can receive 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases on the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, or Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card within the first three months after account opening.
With a wide variety of earning opportunities and a no-hassle points redemption system, the Southwest Rapid Rewards program stands out as one of the most user-friendly airline reward programs available.
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