Airline Rewards Programs

Southwest – Rapid Rewards Overview

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Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program enables Southwest customers to earn rewards on their Southwest flights. Every Southwest flight earns points that can quickly add up to free flights and discounts each time you fly Southwest.  The number of points earned depends on the fare class purchased – but no matter what kind of fare you purchase, it will always count towards earning Rapid Rewards points. You’ll can also earn points through car rentals and hotel partners.  Unfortunately, Southwest Airlines is one of very few major airlines with no airline partners associated with their rewards program.

Rapid Rewards Program

Southwest Rapid Rewards program allows you earn points by flying or spending with Southwest Airlines or its various partners. When you enroll in this free basic airline rewards program you will enjoy benefits such as:

  • Unlimited reward seats
  • No blackout dates
  • Points don’t expire and the ability to redeem your points for flights, car rentals  and gifts.

The amount, type of fare and payment method you choose will determine how many points you earn on your flight.

  • Want get away=6 points earned per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Wanna get away Plus=8 points earned per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Anytime=10 points earned per dollar spent on airfare.
  • Business Select=12 points earned per dollar spent on airfare.

What Southwest Says About Sustainability

Environmental Sustainability Goals
As announced in 2021 and shared in the 2021 One Report, we’ve steadily increased our focus on sustainability with long- and near-term sustainability goals and targets, including the following:
-Achieve carbon neutrality by 2050
-Maintain carbon neutral growth to 2019 levels every year through 2030 by:
-Reducing our carbon emissions, including scope 1 and 2, per available seat mile by at least 20% by 2030 as compared to 2019
-Replacing 10% of our total jet fuel consumption with sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) by 2030
-Offsetting emissions through certified offsets”

Read more details on Southwest.com here.

Tiers

Southwest Airlines offers three tiers, first tier is A-list Status, the second is A-list Preferred, and finally Companion Pass.

A-list Status

In order to qualify for A-list status you will either need to fly 25 qualifying one way flights in a calendar year or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points (beginning in January 2024 the flight requirement option is being reduced to 20 one-way flights). Being an A-list tier status traveler you and everyone on your flight reservation receive an early boarding position, priority check-in and security line access. In addition to these perks you will also enjoy:

  • 25% earning bonus points on qualifying flights
  • Access to same-day confirmed change, with no difference in fare, if there is a seat available.
  • Same-day Standby if you want an earlier flight.
  • Direct A-list phone line that will help you connect with Southwest Airlines.

A-list Preferred Status

In order to earn A-list preferred status you will need to either fly 50 one way qualifying flights in a calendar year or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points (beginning in January 2024 the flight requirement option is being reduced to 50 one-way flights).  You will get all the benefits of A-list tier status offers but in addition you will be eligible for:

  • 100% earning bonus points on qualifying flights.
  • Free inflight WIFI on all your flights.

Companion Pass Status

The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass allows Southwest Rapid Rewards members to choose one companion to fly with them for free (excluding taxes and fees) every time they purchase or redeem points for a flight. This benefit is valid on both domestic and international flights, providing tremendous savings on air travel. To qualify, members must earn at least 125,000  Southwest Rapid Rewards Points in a calendar year (135,000 in 2023). Points can be earned by flying Southwest airlines, and through partner programs like car rentals and hotel stays. The Southwest Companion Pass is an incredible benefit that can save frequent flyers thousands of dollars each year in airfare costs.

Redeem points

With Rapid Rewards it’s very simple to search for a flight and purchase that flight with points.  Using the same search you would use to book flights at southwest.com with money, you’d enter you travel plans/flight info and you are able to book the flight by selecting points as your payment. The more expensive your flight is the more points it will take for you to get there, but if you are willing to take a red eye or less direct route to your location, the you may find a lower cost flight. All flights booked with points are subject to $5.60 fee, 2 bags fly free with no change fees. If you’re short on points you can buy more points,  you can transfer points from other Rapid Rewards members or you can purchase points for other Rapid reward members.

More Ways to Earn Points

Car rental Partners

  • Avis – When renting a car through Avis, Rapid Rewards members can earn 600 rapid rewards points at Avis airport locations.
  • Budget – When renting a vehicle through Budget you will also earn 2,400 points and 30% off your purchase.
  • Dollar – You will earn 1,200 Rapid rewards earned per rental with no discount fee off your purchase, but does list rentals can be as low as 25% per day.
  • Thrifty – You will earn 1,200 points  on your vehicle rental and save up to 10% on base rates.

Credit Card Partners

You will also receive additional benefits using one of the Southwest Airlines branded credit cards listed below. Click on each link to see all current promotions and benefits.

Hotel partners

You will have the ability to transfer your hotel rewards points to Rapid Rewards points with a number of Hotel partners associated with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards program, however the exchange rate is difficult to swallow. A couple Hotel partners will also let you earn Rapid Rewards per stay as well as the ability to convert points to Rapid Rewards.

Southwest Hotels

You will earn one point per one dollar spent on booking.

  • Best Western Hotels and Resorts

If you are a Rapid Rewards member as well as a Best Western Rewards member you have the option to redeem 5,000 Best western Rewards points for 1,200 Rapid Rewards points.

Rapid Rewards members will need to be enrolled in Radisson Rewards Americas loyalty program. You will earn 20 Radisson Rewards points per dollar spent and redeeming Radisson Rewards to Rapid Rewards are a 10:1 ratio. Example 2,000 Radisson points equal 200 Rapid Rewards points.

Rapid Rewards members who are also Choice Privileges Awards members will have the option to transfer points to Rapid Rewards. You can redeem 6,000 Choice Privilege points for 1,800 Rapid Rewards.

Rapid Rewards members who are also World of Hyatt members will earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per every qualifying stay. Members can also transfer 5,000 World of Hyatt points to 2,400 Rapid Rewards points.

Rapid Rewards members who are also members of Marriott Convoy will earn 600 Rapid Rewards points per qualifying stay. You also have the option to convert your Marriott Convoy points to Rapid Rewards. Examples include 9,000 Marriott Convoy points for 3,000 Rapid Rewards or 30,000 Marriott Convoy points for 10,000 Rapid Rewards points.

Rapid Rewards members will also need to be MGM Rewards members will bank 600 Raid Rewards points per qualifying stay. You are not be able to convert MGM rearwards to Rapid Rewards with this hotel partner

Rocketmiles

If you book hotels through Rocketmiles website you will earn an impressive 1,000 to 10,000 Rapid Rewards per night. See rocketmiles.com for more details.

Final Thoughts

Southwest Rapids Rewards program has its advantages if you are traveling this airline frequently. Southwest has a lot going for it event though it’s not part of a major airline alliance.  They charge no baggage fees, points never expire, and they also do not charge change fees. Earning additional points with car rental and hotel partners has its advantages, however converting hotel points to Rapid Rewards is not usually a good deal. Rapid Rewards, especially if you can achieve elevated status, has some real value.

Editorial Note: Information and opinions articulated in this article are solely those of the author’s, not those of a credit card company, bank, airline or hotel chain. This article has not been reviewed or approved by or otherwise endorsed by any of these companies or organizations.

Travis is a Senior Editor at Miles Junkie. An avid outdoorsman, you'll see him shredding the slopes of Colorado in the winter and cutting rounds to heat his home in the national forests during the summer. He lives with his wife and three dogs in southwest Colorado.

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