A Complete Guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards

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Established in 1967, Southwest Airlines is a big name in the U.S. travel market. In 2019, it flew 134 million passengers to over 100 destinations, making it the world's largest low-cost carrier and the largest airline in the U.S. by the number of passengers flown.

Southwest Rapid Rewards utilizes dynamic award pricing and a fixed value for points. As ticket prices go up or down, so do award prices. At the same time, the program offers some exciting features. It's famous for comparatively generous customer policies—like zero change/cancellation fees, two free checked bags per passenger, zero blackout dates, and points that never expire.

Perhaps the most unique (and valuable) attribute of the Rapid Rewards program is its famous Companion Pass. This industry-leading “elite status” allows members to bring a companion on every trip, paying only the taxes and fees!

Unfortunately, these perks don't come without trade-offs. Southwest is mainly a domestic carrier, offering only a limited number of international routes in/around North America. Additionally, it isn't a member of an airline alliance. So you can't use your points for international travel on other airlines either. Combine this with Southwest's somewhat controversial boarding process, and it's safe to say that the airline has its fair share of critics.

Overall, with realistic expectations and an inclination towards domestic travel, Rapid Rewards makes it easy to secure significant value. In fact, in our opinion, it's one of the easiest loyalty programs to maximize. In this complete guide to Southwest's Rapid Rewards Program, we're going to show you why.

Best Ways to Earn Rapid Rewards Points

Southwest Rapid Rewards Personal Credit Cards

The easiest (and best) way to earn Rapid Rewards points is with a Southwest credit card. All five cards are issued by Chase and offer varying levels of perks and benefits.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Annual Fee$69
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • 3,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Your points never expire, a benefit of the Rapid Rewards® program.
  • 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
Annual Fee$99
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • All points earned count towards Companion Pass®.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions.
  • Your points never expire, a benefit of the Rapid Rewards® program.
  • 2X points per $1 spent on all Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Annual Fee$149
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks and WiFi.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 2X points per $1 spent on all Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Southwest Rapid Rewards Business Credit Cards

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$199
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
The latest card to join the Southwest lineup of rewards cards, the Southwest Performance Business Card offers the highest Rapid Rewards signup bonus, earns more points than it's Southwest counterparts, receives a massive 9,000 point anniversary bonus, plus offers plenty of perks and benefits for Southwest fans. One of the best co-brand business cards on the market.
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit
  • Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.
  • 3X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases
  • 2X points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$99
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • Earn 60,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open.
  • 6,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 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.
  • Earn points on employee spending
  • Employee cards at no additional cost
  • No blackout dates when you redeem points, no seat restrictions, bags fly free®, and no change fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

With one (or two) signup bonuses, it's easy to build a substantial balance of Rapid Rewards points. Plus, points earned via Southwest credit cards count towards the coveted Companion Pass. So, between a signup bonus and a regular amount of spending, you could fly two for the price of one in no time.

Related — Southwest Rapid Rewards Card Signup Offers and Benefits

Transfer Points From Chase Ultimate Rewards or Marriott Bonvoy

In addition to co-branded cards, Southwest partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy. That means you can earn points with Chase or Marriott and transfer them to Southwest when you're ready to redeem points for your next trip.

Given Marriott's less-than-stellar transfer ratio and processing time, your best bet is to transfer Ultimate Rewards to Southwest. Moreover, holding a combination of Chase cards is even better for earning Rapid Rewards points over the long term than holding Southwest cards!

Cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® typically earn points at a far superior rate on everyday spending. When paired with an Ultimate Rewards-earning card, you can transfer the points needed for your flight.

The downside when transferring points to Southwest is they don't count towards the Companion Pass. Best to keep that in mind if earning one is a priority for you.

Flying Southwest

When you fly a Southwest itinerary booked with cash (or via the Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal), you can (and should) credit the flight to your Rapid Rewards account to earn redeemable and A-List qualifying points. The number of points earned depends on the price of the ticket, your elite status, and the type of fare booked.

 BaseA-ListA-List Preferred
Wanna Get Away6 pts / dollar7.5 pts / dollar12 pts / dollar
Anytime10 pts / dollar12.5 pts / dollar20 pts / dollar
Business Select12 pts / dollar15 pts / dollar24 pts / dollar

The three fare classes (in ascending order of expense) are Wanna Get Away, Anytime, and Business Select. Other than the point-earning rate, the differences between them include ticket flexibility, boarding priority, and free drink vouchers. Naturally, you earn more points for booking the more expensive fare.

Likewise, the higher your status, the more points you earn per dollar spent. That means that the highest earn rate goes to A-List Preferred members booking Business Select fares. For example, a $300 Business Select fare would net an A-List Preferred member 7,200 Rapid Rewards points!

Southwest Promos

Southwest does a great job of engaging Rapid Rewards members with regular promotional offerings. These make it even easier for frequent flyers to earn enough points for their next redemption. Historically, Southwest promotions have included a wide range of ways to earn points and status. Examples include:

  1. Bonus Southwest Points on Credit Card Spending
  2. Transfer Bonuses from Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Rapid Rewards

It's not uncommon for the airline to offer multiple promos at the same time. That's why the ease of earning points is one of our favorite things about the Rapid Rewards program.

If you want to stay up to date with Southwest promos, check out our regularly updated post covering reward program promotions. We gather every promotion in one place, allowing you to filter by reward program.

AwardWallet-Southwest-Rapid-Rewards-Promos

Southwest Hotels

Did you know that Southwest has its own hotel booking portal? Powered by Booking.com, Southwest Hotels allows Rapid Rewards members to earn bonus points for booking a room via the Southwest Hotels portal.

Some properties offer higher point bonuses than others. Moreover, Southwest typically gives you the option to pay a small premium for more bonus points when selecting your room.

Here, you could opt to spend an extra $36 for 2,000 additional points—effectively buying points at 1.8¢ each.

Regardless, you'll always earn at least one bonus point per dollar spent. The best part? These bonus points count towards Companion Pass qualification.

Southwest Hotel Partners

Besides its own hotel portal, Southwest also maintains working partnerships with six other hotel loyalty programs and an affiliate booking platform with Rocketmiles.com. Each hotel partner has a unique point-earning and transfer rate:

Hotel PartnerEarn PointsTransfer Points
Hyatt600 RR points per stay5,000 Hyatt points=2,400 RR points, 50,000 Hyatt points=30,000 RR points
Best WesternVaries5,000 Best Western Rewards=1,200 RR points
RadissonVaries10:1 ratio (100,000 Radisson points=10,000 RR points)
Choice HotelsN/A6,000 Choice points=1,800 RR points
Marriott600 RR points per stay3:1 ratio, plus a 5,000 point bonus for every 60,000 Marriott points transferred
MGM Resorts600 RR points per stayN/A

To earn Rapid Rewards with any of these partners, you'll need to set your earning preference to Southwest Rapid Rewards. Depending on the program, this can be done in your online hotel account or at check-in.

Unfortunately, none of these earning or transfer rates are incredibly lucrative. Points transferred or earned from hotel partners do not count towards Companion Pass qualification. Therefore, unless you have zero interest in collecting a certain hotel brand's points, you're better off earning hotel points and transferring to Southwest only as a last resort.

Rapid Rewards Rental Car Partners

Southwest's car rental partners function much like its hotel partners. As of this writing, Southwest members can earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per qualifying rental with any of these partners. With that said, each partner has unique terms and conditions, including frequent-flyer surcharges and consecutive rental policies. Make sure you check these out before you make a reservation.

Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

If you're building up your Rapid Rewards point balance, you need to know about the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal. It operates like any most major shopping portals:

  1. Search for your store.
  2. Click through the link.
  3. Make your purchase.
  4. Earn tons of bonus points.

Depending on the store, you can earn anywhere between 1 and 20 points per dollar spent. Plus, certain stores offer special bonuses for meeting specific criteria, including bonuses as high as 5,400 points!

Earn tons of bonus miles with the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal.

If you have used other shopping portals, the layout and functionality will be familiar. In fact, many of the airlines offer similar (or identical) bonuses, leaving you to choose which currency you want to collect. Not sure which rewards program offers the best deal? Double-check shopping portal rates with an aggregator like cashbackmonitor.com.

Points earned via the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal count towards Companion Pass qualification.

Rapid Rewards Dining

Dining Rewards Program - Southwest

Southwest's Rapid Rewards Dining program is very simple yet effective. First, register your Rapid Rewards account and choose to opt-in to receive email offers or not. If you do opt-in, you can earn three points per dollar spent at participating restaurants. If you don't opt-in, you'll earn one point for every two dollars spent.

To find a participating restaurant, you can filter by location or search by name. You never know, your family's favorite spot might participate! Plus, points earned via Rapid Rewards dining count towards Companion Pass qualification.

The best part of a dining program is that it's another means of stacking your point earnings. For example, if you earn three points per dollar with Rapid Rewards Dining, you can stack that with points earned using a great credit card for restaurant purchases. Conversely, you could use a Southwest card like the Southwest Priority Card to double up your Southwest earnings.

Related: Beginners Guide to Dining Programs

Shopping, Dining, and Lifestyle Partners

If you need some flowers, wine, or a new energy service provider, you may be able to earn bonus points with Southwest's shopping, dining, and lifestyle partners. Essentially, these are the partnerships that don't fit neatly into another category. They include:

These are much more niche products, yet they are still worth considering if you happen to be in the market. Just make sure to read the terms carefully to decide if the value proposition is adequate.

Once again, points earned with any of these partners do count towards Companion Pass qualification.

eRewards and Rewards for Opinions

You can earn points for sharing your opinion, thanks to Southwest's partnership with eRewards and Rewards for Opinions. These two websites value your thoughts, rewarding customers with bonus points for taking the time to fill out surveys. Aside from maybe your first survey, most won't make you points-rich. But every little bit helps. If you need to top up your balance, extra points are only a few keyboard clicks away.

Purchase Southwest Points

If all else fails and you need points now, you can always buy Southwest points.

Without a promotion, Southwest sells Rapid Rewards points at the mediocre-to-terrible rate of 2.75–3¢ each. That's up to double the 1.3–1.5¢ per point value that Southwest assigns points for award redemptions. Consequently, without a promotion, buying Southwest points should be your very last resort.

buy Southwest points with 75% bonus

With a promotion, though, the value proposition improves drastically—although the jury's still out on whether it's worth it. The current Southwest buy points promotion brings the price down to as low as 1.57¢ per point. While that's not a terrible value, it's still certainly not ideal. Ultimately, the only time it might make sense is if you're in a pinch and need a few more points to make a valuable redemption.

Program Rules

Do Southwest Rapid Rewards points expire?

Thankfully, Rapid Rewards points never expire as long as your account remains open. You don't need to stress about ongoing account activity, or points expiring before you can use them. Provided you keep your account open, you keep your Rapid Rewards points.

Can you transfer points between members?

The short answer is: yes, you can transfer points—although it'll cost you. Southwest charges a transfer fee of 1¢ per point, which all but wipes out the value. Additionally, you have to transfer points in increments of 1,000. So if you have a specific redemption in mind, you'll likely have to send (and pay) for more than you need.

Aside from a few circumstances, the best alternative to point transfers is surprisingly simple. Southwest allows you to book travel for anyone, whether you're using Rapid Rewards points or cash. In the booking process, simply put the name and RR# of the person for whom you're booking.

No need to go through the trouble of transferring points to their account. Plus, if that person has a Companion Pass, they can simply log in to their account and add their companion afterward.

How to Track Southwest Rapid Rewards in AwardWallet

Unfortunately, Southwest doesn't allow AwardWallet to track your points balance and travel reservations directly. But that doesn't mean you're totally out of luck. You can still use AwardWallet in conjunction with Southwest Rapid Rewards—it just involves forwarding some emails.

For AwardWallet to track your Rapid Rewards account, follow these steps:

  1. Forward all Southwest emails to your assigned AwardWallet email address: [Your AwardWallet Username]@AwardWallet.com — You can do this either by configuring your mailbox to do it automatically or, more simply, by changing the email in your Rapid Rewards account to your AwardWallet email. Don't worry, AwardWallet will automatically forward everything received to the email address you have on file.
  2. Opt-in to receive Rapid Rewards statements — This ensures that you (and AwardWallet) receive regular updates on the status of your Rapid Rewards account.

Dedicated Post: How to Track Southwest Rapid Rewards with AwardWallet

How to Use Southwest Points

Southwest Points Value

Similar to Delta and United, Southwest utilizes dynamic award pricing. As the cash price of tickets fluctuates up and down, so do award prices. However, unlike United and Delta, Southwest also assigns a fixed value to Rapid Rewards points. Depending on the circumstance, this value is anywhere from 1.3–1.5¢ per point.

To demonstrate, let's compare the cash and award rates for a short itinerary from Burbank (BUR) to San Jose (SJC) California:

Southwest BUR - SJC

Southwest BUR - SJC Points

For the three flights available, loyalty members would receive three different point valuations. If you include the mandatory $5.60 security fee for award tickets in the calculation, the point values come out to:

  • Business Select — 1.37¢ per point
  • Anytime — 1.39¢ per point
  • Wanna Get Away — 1.43¢ per point

This system has pros and cons. The good thing is no matter what, if there's a seat available, you can book it with points. Plus, you never have to worry about whether you're getting a good deal since points are always worth (roughly) the same. Conversely, a fixed-value currency makes it almost impossible to leverage outsized value for your points.

Southwest Airlines Partners

Southwest doesn't belong to any airline alliance (like United, American, or Delta) and doesn't maintain any cross-alliance partnerships like many other independent airlines. Essentially, Rapid Rewards members can't use their points for travel on any other airline. Only Southwest.

However, if you hold a Southwest co-branded credit card, you also get access to Southwest's ‘More Rewards' program. This functions as a booking portal, allowing cardholders to use points for international flights on global carriers, hotels, and more.

Unlike regular Southwest award redemptions, you only get 1¢ of value per point in the More Rewards program. If you have Southwest points to burn, this is an option. However, you'll getter better value for your points flying domestically on Southwest.

Redeem Southwest Points

Southwest doesn't share flight information with any online travel agent (OTA) or third party. That means that the only places you can look for flight availability are with Southwest directly, including:

  1. At Southwest.com
  2. With a Southwest phone booking specialist (800-435-9792)
  3. At a Southwest airport ticket counter

To find award availability:

  1. Start by going to Southwest.com.
  2. Once there, select your desired departure and arrival cities, dates, and the number of passengers.
  3. Choose the option for ‘Points' instead of ‘Dollars'.

Now you'll see prices displayed in points only. The bookable flight schedule typically extends six to seven months in advance.

As mentioned above, Southwest utilizes dynamic award pricing and a fixed value for points. This means that if you find a flight bookable with cash, you can also book it with points. In fact, Southwest makes it easy to toggle back and forth between the two:

Toggle back and forth between cash and points bookings.

The nice thing about this is you get an easy reference for the value your points are providing. Plus, you don't have to search endlessly to find award availability. As award prices are tied directly to the cash price, there is no peak or off-peak periods to concern yourself with. Just be aware that when cash prices are high, award prices are as well.

Get Buy 1 Get 1 Free flights for up to two years with the Southwest Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is one of the best deals in domestic air travel. It functions as a modified “elite status” of sorts, allowing members who earn it to add a designated companion to any booked itinerary for just the taxes and fees. Translation: if you often travel with a companion, this essentially provides free flights for your companion.

To earn a Companion Pass, you typically need to accumulate 125,000 qualifying points in a single year. Although, for 2021, Southwest is providing 25,000 bonus Companion Pass qualification points for all Rapid Rewards members. That effectively drops the number of points needed to 100K.

Earning that many points might sound like a tall order, but you'd be surprised at how easy it is with a proper strategy. Depending on the Southwest card signup bonuses available when you apply, at times it's even possible to earn this coveted status with just one credit card signup bonus!

If you're interested in learning more, check out our full guide to the Southwest Companion Pass.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
Annual Fee$199
Welcome Bonus Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
The latest card to join the Southwest lineup of rewards cards, the Southwest Performance Business Card offers the highest Rapid Rewards signup bonus, earns more points than it's Southwest counterparts, receives a massive 9,000 point anniversary bonus, plus offers plenty of perks and benefits for Southwest fans. One of the best co-brand business cards on the market.
  • Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • 9,000 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary.
  • 3 points per $1 spent on Southwest Airlines® purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services and 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
  • Inflight WiFi Credits
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® Fee Credit
  • Employee cards at no additional cost, earn points on employee spending.
  • 3X points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases
  • 2X points per $1 spent on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable and phone services
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Booking Fees & Rules

Southwest provides the best change and cancellation rules of any domestic airline here in the U.S. The terms and conditions are straightforward and easy to understand, and the policies are generous compared to other carriers.

  • Booking Fees — Since the airline limits you to booking through only one of three channels, there are no fees associated with making a reservation. More specifically, this means that Southwest won't charge a fee for making a reservation over the phone or for booking close-in.
  • Award Changes / Cancelations — Southwest doesn't charge any change or cancelation fees on any ticket. However, 10 is the magic number, as all changes and cancelations must happen at least 10 minutes before your scheduled departure.
  • Booking for Other People — Booking travel for others is totally fine with Southwest. Whether it's a cash fare or an award booking, simply enter the correct information for whoever is traveling.
  • Out-of-Pocket Costs on Award Tickets — For the vast majority of domestic award tickets, the only out-of-pocket cost is the $5.60 domestic tax required by law. However, if traveling internationally, the out-of-pocket cost can be much higher thanks to government and airport-imposed taxes and fees.
If the taxes and fees are more than the standard $5.60, you'll find that Southwest lists them along with the award price.

Routing Rules

Routing rules for Southwest award bookings are about as straightforward as they come. Namely, they're exactly the same as the rules governing cash bookings.

To search for possible routings, the best place to go is Southwest's dedicated Route Map tool. If a route shows up, you know it's bookable with cash or points. Just keep in mind that Southwest doesn't offer overnight itineraries. So if the itinerary you're contemplating would require one, there's a good chance it's not possible.

Lastly, there are a few route options that won't display on Southwest.com. If an itinerary you've searched for doesn't populate, try giving the airline a call (800-435-9792). A customer service rep may be able to make it work.

Award Sweet Spots

Given the fixed value for Rapid Rewards points, the definition of “sweet spot” inherently changes slightly. That is to say, there aren't any specific routes or zones where Rapid Rewards bookings deliver decisively better value compared to other award programs. However, there are several different areas where Southwest outperforms the competition:

  • Positioning Flights — The outstanding reliability of award availability makes Southwest the perfect airline for positioning for another, longer award booking.
  • Cheap Domestic Fares — Depending on your departure airport, Southwest still regularly offers the most affordable fares. This is especially true during common fare promotions.
  • Wanna Get Away — Southwest's cheapest fare type is ironically the best deal. Here, you'll often find the best cent per point values, while also receiving benefits other airlines charge a premium for, like free cancelations and checked luggage.
  • Flights to Hawaii / Caribbean — Over the last few years, Southwest has continued to expand its route network. Now you have the option to use your Rapid Rewards points for flights to Hawaii or several locations in the Caribbean. As these routes have launched, Southwest continually challenged the other major airlines' dominance by undercutting fares. This translates into some incredibly good deals for folks booking travel there.
  • Two-for-One Flights with the Companion Pass — No other airline offers a benefit anything like this. A couple who regularly travels together could save thousands of dollars per year by maximizing this benefit.
  • Back-up Flights — In a world of ever-changing plans, Southwest's free cancelations make it a powerful tool for covering your back. If you're unsure when you need to travel, you can simply book a flight with points and cancel for free if you don't need it.

Elite Status

Aside from the Companion Pass, Southwest only has two tiers of elite status that loyalty members can earn:

  • A-List — Earned after 25 one-way qualifying flights OR 35,000 tier qualifying points
  • A-List Preferred — Earned after 50 one-way qualifying flights OR 50,000 tier qualifying points

The sweet spot is A-List, as it offers significantly improved benefits over zero status and only minimally less than A-List Preferred.

 A-ListA-List Preferred
Primary BenefitsPriority Boarding, Priority Check-in and Security Screening, 25% Earning Bonus, Dedicated Phone Line, Same-Day StandbyPriority Boarding, Priority Check-in and Security Screening, 100% Earning Bonus, Dedicated Phone Line, Same-Day Standby, Free In-Flight Wifi, One Complimentary Premium Beverage Per Flight

It's also worth mentioning that certain co-branded credit cardholders can spend their way towards Southwest A-List elite status. Loyalty members who hold the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card earn 1,500 tier-qualifying points for every $10,000 spent on the card up to $100,000 spent. This translates into a possible 15,000 tier-qualifying points for card spend alone.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card
Annual Fee$149
Welcome Bonus Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 3X points on dining, including takeout and eligible delivery services, for the first year.
  • 7,500 bonus points after your Cardmember anniversary each year.
  • $75 Southwest® travel credit each year.
  • 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
  • 20% back on inflight drinks and WiFi.
  • Earn 2 points per $1 spent on Southwest® purchases.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 2X points per $1 spent on all Southwest® purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Lastly, while not a traditional elite status, the Companion Pass is another worthy goal for frequent Southwest travelers. It won't necessarily elevate your airport or flying experience, but it (potentially) delivers far more value. Plus, since points earned via co-branded cards count towards qualification, it's possible to get the whole way there without stepping foot on an airplane!

Pros and Cons of Southwest Rapid Rewards

The Rapid Rewards program is not perfect. Unless you have a Southwest credit card, you can't use Rapid Rewards points to book any travel beyond North America, as there are no traditional airline partnerships. And unlike American or United miles, there is no way to receive outsized value for your points via premium-cabin award redemptions.

However, Southwest always gives you two free checked bags and lets you make free changes and cancelations up to 10 minutes before departure. It also enables you to earn tons of points via credit cards to book award travel on an extensive network of flights—with no blackout dates. And if you earn a Companion Pass, all of this value is doubled.

For all the things Southwest lacks, it gets a lot of things right.

Southwest Rapid Rewards FAQ

Is it free to join Southwest Rapid Rewards?

Yes! Southwest Rapid Rewards is free to join for anyone and everyone.

How do I find my Rapid Rewards member number?

Log into your Rapid Rewards account with your username and password and select 'My Account'. Your Rapid Rewards member number will be displayed directly under your name.

Can I buy Southwest Rapid Rewards points?

Rapid Rewards members are allowed to buy up to 60,000 Rapid Rewards points per day. However, just because you can, doesn't necessarily mean you should. See this post this post for details.

Do Rapid Rewards points expire?

No! Rapid Rewards points never expire as long as your account remains active.

How do I earn a Southwest Companion Pass?

To earn a Southwest Companion Pass, you must accumulate 125,000 Companion Pass-qualifying points in a single calendar year. Keep in mind that many other types of points (including credit card signup bonuses) count towards qualification. Check out our full guide to using the Southwest Companion Pass here.

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Comments

  • I’ve been debating whether Southwest is more valuable than Alaska…

  • Thanks! This was really helpful in planning points accumulation for travel next year. Will likely get a Chase Sapphire card now and then SW cards at the end of the year to go for a companion pass.

  • When will we ever be able to use points for gift card redemptions again?

  • Southwest is the plain vanilla of the airline loyalty programs. They give you what they say they would. It is just that the boarding process is indeed an oddity. I wish they could just assign a seat number to each person.

  • With the addition of the Hawaii flights and several new US destinations, this is a program that continues to add value despite the recent devaluation. It is a useful piece of your points/miles portfolio that enables you to save your AA/DL miles for international trips and not “waste” them on domestic flights where possible.

  • The points have been way devalued. It used to be that you got a free flight every 8 roundtrips – and when I was in college, they gave me a student account that got me a free flight after 4 roundtrips. Now it seems like I can’t ever afford a free trip anywhere.

  • I’ve always had a question about Southwest’s Companion Pass:
    Being that you need 100,000 points to qualify for it, does it cost you that amount of points to redeem the pass, or is it given to you automatically when you reach that amount of points without spending money or points?

    • Once you qualify, you can use the Companion Pass on an unlimited basis without spending any points on the pass itself. The only situation where you spend points in conjunction with the companion pass is if you redeem Rapid Rewards to book the flight on which you’ll add a companion. The pass also works for adding a companion to airfare bought with money.

  • Redeem for More Rewards still Paused. Will it ever return?!