How To Earn and Use Southwest Points

I love Southwest Airlines!  It’s the only airline I have any sort of loyalty to.  I love how easy and straightforward it is to earn and use points and I love that I can change my flight without a fee.  And no bag fees…yes, please!  I have recently fallen even more in love with them since I acquired a Southwest Companion Pass (aka the best deal in travel…This pass allows a companion to fly for free on any Southwest flight I book – awesome, right?) But, for this post, I want to get down to the basics and show you how to earn and use Southwest points.

How To Earn and Use Southwest Points

How To Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Fly On Southwest Airlines

Pretty obvious, right?  You will earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points every time you fly on Southwest (except on award flights).  The amount of points you earn on your flight is determined by what type of fare you purchased – Wanna Get Away, Anytime or Business Select – as well as your status or tier level – Base, A-list or A-list Preferred.

 Base Tier

How to Earn And Use Southwest Points - Base Tier

A-List Tier

How to Earn And Use Southwest Points - A-List Tier

A-List Preferred Tier

How to Earn And Use Southwest Points - A-List Preferred Tier

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards

Southwest offers 3 co-branded credit cards through Chase bank.  Please note the bonus offers can vary so be sure to check Southwest.com for the most up to date offer.

Southwest Rapid Rewards PlusHow To Earn and Use Southwest Points - Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card

  • 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2x points on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1x point on all other purchases
  • $69 annual fee
  • 3,000 bonus points each year after your card member anniversary

Southwest Rapid Rewards PremiereHow To Earn and Use Southwest Points - Southwest Rapid Rewards Premiere Credit Card

  • 40,000 bonus Rapid Rewards Points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • 2x points on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
  • 1x point on all other purchases
  • $99 annual fee
  • 6,000 bonus points each year after your card member anniversary

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premiere Business Credit CardHow To Earn and Use Southwest Points - Southwest Rapid Rewards Premiere Business Credit Card

    • 60,000 point bonus after $3,000 spend in your first 3 months
    • $99 annual fee
    • 2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases
    • 1x points on all other purchases
    • 6,000 bonus points each year after your card member anniversary

 

Transfer From Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards Points transfer to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio.  That means that every 1 Chase point can turn into 1 Southwest point through a quick transfer.  Southwest points do not transfer back to Chase, so if you have Chase points you would like to use on Southwest, I recommend keeping them parked in Chase until you are ready to redeem.  For more about Chase Ultimate Rewards see my Guide to Chase Ultimate Rewards Points.

Purchase a Marriott Hotel + Air Package

A Marriott Hotel + Air Package consists of 7 nights at a Marriott property plus airline miles.  The airline you choose will determine which package you want – In this case, we want Southwest points.  Then you choose how many airline miles you want and what category of hotel you want to stay at.  Each airline has a chart that will show you how much each package costs (in Marriott Points).   As you can see from the chart below, 7 Nights in a Category 1-5 Marriott plus 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points costs 200,000 Marriott points.  For detailed instructions on how to purchase one of these packages see How To Purchase a Marriott Hotel + Air Package.

How to earn and use Southwest Points | Purchase a Marriott Hotel + Air Package
This chart shows you the available packages that come with Southwest Rapid Reward points. The cost of the packages is in Marriott Points.

Dining and Shopping Portals

Shopping portals and dining programs are another great way to earn Southwest points. Shopping portals work just like popular cash back sites like Ebates or Coupon Cactus. Just click through the Southwest Rapid Rewards shopping portal to earn extra points on every online purchase you make! The dining program is a little different. You need to register your credit card (any card, not just Southwest cards) on Southwest’s dining program website then you will earn bonus points at any participating restaurant when you use your registered card. For more information, see Shopping Portals and Dining Programs.

How To Use Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Now let’s look at how to use all those beautiful Rapid Rewards points you have earned!  Using Southwest points for free flights is easy and straightforward.  All you need to do is search for a flight as you normally would.  Then you can toggle back and forth to see the price in either dollars or Rapid Rewards Points.  Rapid Rewards Points are worth about 1.6 cents per piece,so the price in points will vary based on the actual cost of the flight.

How To Earn and Use Southwest Points
When searching for flights on southwest.com you can toggle back and forth between dollars and points.

 

Select the flights as you normally would and when it’s time to checkout you will see the price in points rather than dollars.  Keep in mind that even on award flights you will still have to pay the security fee of $5.60 one way (with a higher fee on international flights).

One of my favorite things about Southwest is that you can change or cancel your flight with no fee!  While you will only receive a credit if you cancel or change a ticket paid for in cash, you can actually receive a refund if you purchase your ticket with points.  If you happen to notice a lower fare since you booked your ticket you can just re-book at the lower price and receive the difference in points back in your account.  YAY Southwest!! (no, this isn’t a sponsored post -I just really love this airline).  For more details on how to change your flight see How To Change Your Southwest Flight With No Fee.

 

Buying Points and Using Points for Shopping or Gift Cards

As with most airlines, you can also buy Southwest points.  Don’t Do It. They charge between 1.9 cents – 3 cents per point.  They are only worth 1.6 cents per points so it’s a terrible value!!  The only time I would ever advise to buy points is if you have a specific redemption in mind and you need a small amount of points to top off your account and you don’t have any Chase Ultimate Rewards points and you can’t wait to earn any more points.  But 99.9% of the time, just don’t do it.

You might also see that you can use points to purchase “rewards” and gift cards.  Again, it’s a terrible value.  Don’t do it.

I hope you are now able to earn tons of Southwest Points!  Let me know how you plan on using them.  Happy Travels!


Quick Links:

Guide To Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

How To Purchase A Marriott Hotel + Air Package

Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal | Rapid Rewards Dining Program

How To Change Your Southwest Flight Without A Fee

Why I Love The Southwest Companion Pass


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