Guide to Southwest Rapid Rewards program

Strong credit card earnings make for a generous reward program.

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Whether you’re out on business or family trips, Southwest Airlines’ Rapid Rewards program offers great value for a wide variety of travelers.

How much are Southwest points worth?

Southwest points are worth about 1.7 cents per point on average according to our valuation at the time of writing. The exact value depends on what you redeem them for.

Do Southwest points expire?

No, provided you maintain an active account by earning or redeeming points at least once every two years.

How do you earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points?

Your two primary methods of earning Southwest Rapid Rewards points are by booking flights with Southwest and using a credit card that earns or transfers points to your Rapid Rewards account.

You can also earn points shopping or traveling with a Southwest partner.

Consider applying for the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card if you want a headstart on point earnings. Chase is currently offering a promotional signup bonus of 40,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, and another 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months.

Our pick for a Southwest credit card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card

  • Signup bonus: 40,000 points after you make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
  • 2x points on Southwest purchases, and with hotel and car rental partners.
  • $75 in Southwest travel credits every card year.
  • 7,500 bonus points after each cardmember anniversary.
  • Get reimbursed for up to four A1-A15 boarding passes each card year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
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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® Priority Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months.
2x points on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rentals and 1x points on all other purchases
$149
Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months
2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
$99
Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
40,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months. Plus, earn 35,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months
2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
$69
Earn 40,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Plus, earn 35,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 6 months your account is open.
Southwest Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card
70,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
3x points on Southwest Airlines, 2x points on social media and search engine advertising, Internet, cable, and phone services and 1x points on all other purchases
$199
Earn 70,000 points when you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
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
2x points on Southwest Airlines and 1x points on all other purchases
$99
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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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).

StatusRequirements
A-List25 one-way qualifying flights
OR
35,000 TQP
A-List Preferred250 one-way qualifying flights
OR
70,000 TQP

Data obtained March 2019. 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 110,000 TQPs will earn you a Companion Pass.

Choose one person to fly with you for just the cost of taxes and fees when you purchase or redeem points for a flight 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.

Bonus mile rates

A-ListA-List Preferred
Point earning bonus25% earning bonus100% earning bonus

Data obtained March 2019. Values are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Flight benefits

A-List Preferred members get access to free inflight Wi-Fi.

Airport benefits

A-List and A-List preferred members have access to a few perks to help make the boarding process more enjoyable.

Priority boarding, priority check-in and free same-day standby can all make your trip a little easier. A-List Preferred members also get access to a dedicated phone line connected to customer service. For more information on Southwest Airlines priority boarding, check out our full 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 Sapphire Preferred® Card
60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
5x points on Lyft, 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on all other purchases
$95
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases
$550
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
$150 after spending $500 in the first 3 months
1.5% cash back on all purchases
$0
Earn a $150 signup bonus after spending $500 in the first 3 months from account opening.
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card
80,000 points after spending $5,000 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
$95
80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel rewards when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

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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. Choose the credit card that best fits your travel and spending styles for the best value.

Frequently asked questions

Images: Shutterstock

Disclaimer

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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