Southwest Rapid Rewards Program Overview

By Zach SteinfeldUpdated July 3, 2017

MaxInsights

MaxInsights offers a numerical analysis and recommendation of how to best use this reward system.

Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program enables members to earn points that can be redeemed for between 0.7 and 2.4 cents apiece, on average. The program is relatively straightforward, but the airline’s limited reach renders the program somewhat less flexible than alternatives.

Expected Value
  • MaxValue International travel and select domestic travel (1.1 to 2.4 cents per point on average)
  • MaxFlex Domestic travel (approximately 1 cent per point)
  • Expected Value 1.5 cents per point

Overview

The Southwest Rapid Rewards program enables budget-minded travelers based in the United States to earn points on flights to major cities in North America. As a Rapid Rewards member, points can be earned for dollars spent on Southwest flights, as well as with the carrier’s rewards partners (e.g. hotels, car rental agencies). The program has three membership tiers above general membership:

  1. General Member
  2. A-List: 25 qualifying one-way flights or 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points
  3. A-List Preferred: 50 qualifying one-way flights or 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points
  4. Companion Pass: 100 qualifying one-way flights or 110,000 Tier Qualifying Points

As a member of the Companion Pass tier, members are entitled to designate a flying companion to fly for free with you for the remainder of the year in which the status is earned, as well as throughout the following year. Depending on the fare purchased, between 6 and 12 points can be earned per dollar spent on Southwest flights. Moreover, Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining program members earn 3 points per dollar spent with any major credit card, plus bonus points when you write restaurant reviews.

Finally, miles earned through the credit cards, including through the sign-up bonus, are considered Qualifying Points for membership tier qualification, which is very rare among rewards programs.

What exactly are the points worth?

Generally, points can be redeemed for 1 cent apiece, though some options value the points at less than 0.7 cents apiece, while others value the points at up to 1.5 points. Rapid Rewards points can be purchased at an exorbitant rate of 2.75 cents apiece, though bonuses to crop up every once in awhile. Generally, any redemption option that values the points at less than 1 cent per point should be avoided.

Caveat Emptor

Southwest’s reward’s program is notorious for its restrictions. Be sure to review them before signing up!

Redemption Examples

Redemption Values

  • Domestic and International Wanna Get Away?
  • Domestic and International Business Travel
  • Gift Cards
  • Merchandise

Cards with Southwest Currency

  • Benjamin Franklin

    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

    Benjamin Franklin
  • Pablo Picasso

    Action is the foundational key to all success.

    Pablo Picasso
  • Abraham Lincoln

    Let no feeling of discouragement prey upon you, and in the end you are sure to succeed.

    Abraham Lincoln

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