A Review of the Southwest Rapid Rewards Program

Repost from Airline Miles Card Watch.

The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is beneficial for travelers located on the southwestern part of the United States. Those who frequently fly to major cities around the U.S and other countries can automatically earn points by signing up. Enrollment into the program is free and can be done by going to southwest.com/account, over the phone or by text.

For more information, you can visit this page.

✓ No blackout dates
✗ Southwest’s only flights outside the U.S. are to Mexico and the Caribbean
✓ Rewards can be earned on flights and hotels
✗ The number of points needed to redeem a free flight varies widely
✓ Miles can be used for any available seat on any Southwest or AirTran flight
✗ Points and cash cannot be combined to cover flight costs

Point System:   

By enrolling in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, you’ll earn points for every dollar spent on a variety of things. These points can be used to cover Southwest flights or redeemed for other rewards. Your points do not expire as long as you have flight or Partner earning activities every 24 months.

Ways to earn points:

  • Credit Card
  • Travel
    • Hotel (earn an additional 150 points if you book you stay at southwest.com):
      • Rapid Rewards® Members can earn 600 Rapid Rewards Points for every qualifying stay at these hotels: Best Western, Carlson Rezidor, Choice, Hyatt, Marriott and manny more. To see the complete list of participating hotels, please visit Southwest’s Partnering Hotels.
    • Rental Cars
      • Rapid Rewards® Members can earn 600 Rapid Rewards Points with these rental car companies: Alamo, Hertz, Budget, Avis and many more. To see the complete list please visit Southwest’s Rental Car partners.
  • Shop & Dine
    • Rapid Reward Shopping
      • You can use the site to find retailers, see how many points per dollar you can earn with each retailer, purchase your items at the retailer’s website and the points you earn on the purchase will be automatically posted to your account, no matter what credit card you use.To shop and see participating stores, please visit Rapid Rewards Shopping
    • Rapid Reward Dining®
      • As a Rapid Rewards Dining® Member, you will earn 3 points per dollar spent and you may register up to 5 major credit cards to track your purchases.
      • To see how to earn bonus points and become a Rapid Reward Dining® member, please visit Rapid Reward Dining®.
    • For other ways you can earn points by shopping, please visit Shop & Dine – Southwest.

Tips and Tricks to Maximize Your Benefits:   

The Companion Pass allows you to designate someone as a companion and allow them to fly free with you on your next flight (you would have to pay your ticket). You will need to earn 110,000 Companion Pass Qualifying Points per calendar year, or fly 100 Southwest Airlines qualifying one-way flights per calendar year, in order to designate someone as a companion.

Here is an example of a good redemption:
The best, and most beneficial, way to maximize your points is to spend them on Southwest flights or its affiliated partners. In this example, we decided to chooses a one-way flight from Los Angeles to New York on September 6. For Wanna Get Away Fares the pricing for the fare ranged from $267 to $397, with redemption costs ranging from 16,824 to 27,166 Rapid Reward points. This equals to a value ranging from .0159 dollars per point to .0146 dollars per point.

As we can see as the value of the points declined the ticket price went up. This observation is also consistent with Anytime and Business Select fares.When you are trying to maximize your points it is important to research beforehand on the flight deals.

Here is an example of a bad redemption:
Gift cards that are valued at $25 typically costs 3,000 points, which means that it will cost you roughly 120 points per dollar or 0.83 cents per point. If you decide to get a $50 gift card it will cost 5,000 points, which translates to 100 points per dollar or 1 dollar per point. Spend your points wisely. For Southwest flights there are no expiration dates for your points earned. As long as you are actively earning points, your points are renewed every two years. The best way to spend you points is on flights.

Membership Tiers   

The Southwest Rapids Rewards Program has four membership tiers: (1) Base Membership, (2) A-List and (3) A-List Preferred:

Basic Membership: You are automatically enrolled into the basic membership program when you enroll. Depending on the fare, you can earn 12, 10, or 6 points per dollar.

A-List status: You have to fly 25 one-way qualifying flights or earn 35,000 Tier Qualifying points per calendar year (depending on the fare, you can earn 15, 12.5 or 7.5 points per dollar) in order to upgrade to the A-List status

A-List Preferred status: You have to fly 50 one-way qualifying flights or earn 70,000 Tier Qualifying points per calendar year (depending on the fare, as a member you can earn 24, 20 or 12 points per dollar) in order to upgrade to the A-List Preferred status.

Summary of the Membership Benefits
A-List Preferred
Ability to earn and use points
Priority Boarding
Earning Bonus
Standby Priority
Expedited Check-In & Security
Dedicated A-List Member Phone Line
Free Inflight WiFi

Frequently Asked Questions:   

Q1. How Do I obtain Tier Qualifying points?
Tier Qualifying points are earned from revenue flights or through the Rapid Rewards Premier Card from Chase.

Q2. Does Southwest charge for bags?
Southwest is currently the online U.S. airline that gives everyone two free checked bags, including free carry on bag, of up to 50 pounds each per passenger.

Q3. Does Southwest have a cancellation fee?
Southwest does not have a cancellation fee. If you cancel your flight within 24 hours of booking the flight, Southwest will refund your money back or will give you credit toward your next flight.

Q4. Can I transfer points from my Chase credit card?
Yes, if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred℠, Ink Bold℠, Ink Plus℠, JPMorgan Palladium or JPMorgan Select customers card, then you will be able to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Rapid Rewards Points. Point transfers via Ultimate Rewards are not eligible for status, including A-List, A-List Preferred, or Companion Pass status, and Ultimate Rewards points will be converted to Rapid Rewards Points on a 1:1 ratio.

Q5. I don’t have enough Rapid Rewards Points, but I would like to redeem my points. What do I do?
The Southwest program allows members to buy points in order to redeem for reward flights sooner. It costs 2.75 cents for each point you buy. However, there are promotions that allow for you to earn bonus points.

Q6. Do my Rapid Reward points ever expire?
Your Rapid Reward points do not expire as long as you have flight or Partner earning activity every 24 months.

Q7. Can I transfer Rapid Reward points to another account?
You have the ability to transfer Rapid Rewards Points to another Member with an active Rapid Rewards account. There are costs to transferring points.

Q8. What is a Companion Pass?
This membership status allows you to bring one companion with you for free when you fly (you must purchase a ticket for yourself). You can register your companion online or over the phone, and you can change who receives the companion benefits up to three times per year.

Q9. Can I send points, as a gift, to non-members?
Points may be purchased as a gift and can be given to an existing Rapid Rewards Member or given to a non-Rapid Rewards Member. Non-Rapid Rewards Members must enroll in Rapid Rewards to claim gifted points.

Concluding Remarks   

The best way to maximize your Rewards points is by flying Southwest. When you fly from Los Angeles to New York, depending on the fare, you could receive a 5.56% effective cash back rate to a 17.53% effective cash back rate, using your basic membership. Flying solely Southwest and spending $10,000, you would accrue $556 to $1753 in rewards which can be used for a roundtrip flight. If you have an A-List Preferred member you get a higher effective cash back. Using the same flight, you the lowest effective cash back rate is 11.13% and the highest is 35.07%. This translates to obtaining $1113 to $3507 in rewards if you spend $10,000 on Southwest flights. The best advice for using Southwest Rapid Rewards program is to spend your hard earned points on air travel.

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