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Guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards program

Strong credit card choices and a coveted Companion Pass program.

Whether you’re out on business or family trips, Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program offers great value for a wide variety of travelers. Just by signing up for the program and making eligible purchases, you can earn redeemable points for flights, hotel stays or car rentals. And if you get a cobranded Southwest Airlines credit card, you’ll earn rewards points faster.

Other rewards

Points are worth1.5 cents
Transfer partnersN/A
Earn points byEligible credit card spending, Southwest flights, Book at partner hotels, Eligible car rentals, Dine at eligible restaurants, Shopping at partner stores, Marathon gas stations
Redeem points onSouthwest flights, Gift cards, Merchandise, Hotel stays, Car rentals

What is the Southwest Rapid Rewards program?

The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is Southwest Airlines’ loyalty program. By booking flights and earning points, you can redeem your earnings on flights, gift cards and more. Like other airline loyalty programs, you can also earn some additional travel perks if you progress through the program’s status levels.

How do you earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points?

There are many ways to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points. For most members, the biggest sources of points will come from flying with Southwest Airlines and spending with eligible credit cards. However, there are other options, including dining with dining partners or shopping at partnered retailers. For a full breakdown of your options and earning strategies, check out our full Southwest Rapid Rewards earning guide.

Do Southwest points expire?

No, so long as you maintain an active Southwest Rapid Rewards account. You can keep your account active by earning or redeeming points at least once every two years. Credit card purchases that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points count toward this activity.

Compare Southwest Airlines credit cards

Southwest’s cobranded credit cards not only improve your regular point earnings, but help you build tier qualifying points toward A-List and A-List Preferred status. Earning a status improves your baseline Rapid Rewards point rate, making a cobranded card a great choice if Southwest is your preferred airline.

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
Earn 2X points on Southwest® purchases.
NEW! Earn 2X points on local transit and commuting, including rideshare.
NEW! Earn 2X points on internet, cable, phone services, and select streaming.
Earn 1 point for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
Earn 40,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, now enjoy more benefits and more ways to earn.
Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card
60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and 6,000 points after your card anniversary
NEW! Earn 4X points on Southwest® purchases.
Earn 3X points on Rapid Rewards® hotel and car partners.
NEW! Earn 2X points on rideshare.
Earn 2X points on social media and search engine advertising, internet, cable, and phone services and 1X points on all other purchases.
4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available.
Global Entry or TSA Pre%u2713® Fee Credit.
Earn 60,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months and 6,000 points after your card anniversary.

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How to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points

Once you earn enough points, you can redeem them by logging in to your Southwest Rapid Rewards account. If you want to know which redemption options give you the best value for your points through a Southwest award chart, check out our Southwest redemption guide.

Loyalty program elite levels

Rapid Rewards members can earn two status levels: A-List and A-List Preferred. Earning either offers a great earning bonus on your points, along with a few handy travel perks.

Upgrading your status

To earn an A-List or A-List Preferred status, you’ll need to meet certain requirements on flights or tier qualifying points (TQP).

A-List25 one-way qualifying flights
35,000 TQP
A-List Preferred50 one-way qualifying flights
70,000 TQP

Data obtained October 2020. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Companion Pass

Though not a status level, flying 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 125,000 TQPs will earn you a Companion Pass.

Companion Passes are a popular and sought after benefit in loyalty programs as they allow you to choose one person to fly with you for just the cost of taxes and fees. The Southwest Rapid Rewards companion pass is especially valuable compared to other airlines, as it includes all flights purchased for the remainder of the year you earned the Companion Pass and the following full calendar year.

Elite member benefits

A-List or A-List Preferred members get several new benefits on their Rapid Rewards account.

A-ListA-List Preferred
Point earning bonus25% earning bonus100% earning bonus
Free inflight Wi-FiNoYes
Priority boardingYesYes
Priority check-inYesYes
Same-day standbyYesYes
Dedicated customer service phone lineYesYes

Data obtained October 2020. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Other cards that can earn Southwest Airlines points

The Chase Ultimate Rewards series allow you to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to your Rapid Rewards account at a 1:1 ratio. Since they’re not specifically designed for travel, these cards can open up your earning options.

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Annual fee Filter values
Chase Freedom Flex℠
$200 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate.
5%cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
100,000 points after spending $15,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on the first $150,000 on travel and select business categories annually, then 1x after and on all other purchases
100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card
$750 cash back after spending $7,500 in the first 3 months
5% at office supply stores, on Internet, cable and phone up to $25,000 combined annually (then 1%), 2% on gas and dining up to $25,000 combined annually then 1% after that and on all other purchases
$750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 in the first 3 months.

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Bottom line

With a good selection of credit cards for earning points and solid redemption options, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program can fit the needs of everyone from die-hard Southwest fliers to those who just want to cash in on a great flight opportunity. But the Southwest Companion Pass is the real endgame and well worth the effort if you often fly Southwest. Choose the credit card that best fits your travel and spending styles to start earning.

Images: Shutterstock

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