Southwest Airlines is well-known in the travel community as a low-cost carrier with free checked bags. Their Rapid Rewards program also stands out for the lack of blackout dates on award redemptions and the extremely generous Companion Pass benefit.
See our best credit card bonuses here.
If you’re new to Southwest, or to the points and miles world, don’t panic. In this post, we’ll cover important redemption details and the best ways to use your Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
Easily earn Rapid Rewards points with cobranded cards like the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card, Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card or the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card credit cards.
|Best Redemptions||Southwest flights|
|Point Valuation||$0.015 per point|
Southwest Rapid Rewards Important Redemption Details
Before we dive into all the great ways to use your Rapid Rewards points, let’s go over some important redemption details:
Free award ticket changes and cancellations. One of Southwest’s best features is its flexible change and cancellation policies. Simply put, there are no fees to change your Southwest award flight. All you have to pay is the points difference. If the cost of an award flight goes down, you can cancel your original ticket, rebook your award at the lower rate and receive a points refund. You can also flat-out cancel your flight, for any reason, without penalty.
No blackout dates. Use your Rapid Rewards points to book any Southwest ticket for sale. If the flight has one open seat left, it’s yours via cash or points.
Lack of partners. One of the things we dislike about Rapid Rewards is its lack of domestic and international airline partners. That means you’re pretty much limited to Southwest award flights, including from the United States to Central America and the Caribbean. But if you want to travel to Europe, Asia, South America or Africa on Southwest points, you don’t have any really good options.
Taxes and fees. You’ll have to pay taxes and fees of at least $5.60 per one-way award trip. The exact amount depends on your arrival and departure destination.
Like the JetBlue TrueBlue program, Southwest prices its awards based on how much the ticket is in cash. The more a paid flight costs, the more points it costs. As we mentioned before, there are no blackout dates.
Best Ways To Redeem With Southwest
Below are our favorite ways to use Rapid Rewards points:
We recommend redeeming only for Wanna Get Away fares – as opposed to Anytime and Business Select fares – because their redemption value tends to be higher. Expect to get $0.015 per point or more with Wanna Get Away awards.
This holds true not only for domestic flights, but for Central American and Caribbean destinations as well. Including:
- Belize City
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- Grand Cayman
- Puerto Rico
- Turks and Caicos
Prices do increase as the cheapest fares are booked, so the cost of an award will also increase as Wanna Get Away tickets sell out. If you want the best deals to popular destinations, you should book your flight as soon as Southwest opens up their schedule.
If your plans change, it’s not a big deal to change or cancel your award ticket. As we mentioned before, Southwest lets you do either for free.
Southwest has regular fare sales that you can book using Rapid Rewards points. If a flight you already booked drops in price during a sale, cancel it and rebook at the lower price. As we mentioned before, there’s no penalty to change or cancel an award ticket.
Southwest has a very generous policy when traveling with an infant less than two years old. On all domestic flights, you’re allowed one lap infant for free with each adult (12+ years old). Because Southwest doesn’t assign seats, you have a good chance of scoring an empty seat next to yours which the baby could use.
On Southwest’s international flights, you can also bring a lap infant. But you’ll have to pay the cost of taxes and fees for the international segment. That’s still a great deal considering other carriers charge at least 10% of the adult fare, even on award flights.
To qualify, you’ll need to bring some sort of identification for the baby – a birth certificate or passport – to prove the child’s age.
The Southwest Companion Pass is the most generous feature of any frequent flyer program. It lets you bring along a travel companion on any paid or award Southwest flight for just the cost of taxes and fees. The Companion Pass essentially doubles the value of your Rapid Rewards points.
But it’s pretty tough to earn the Companion Pass benefit. You either have to earn 125,000 qualifying points or complete 100 one-way Southwest flights in one calendar year.
The welcome bonuses from cobranded Southwest credit cards count towards Companion Pass.
Once you earn it, the Companion Pass is valid for the rest of the year until the end of the following calendar year.
Southwest Rapid Rewards is a solid frequent flyer program if you’re looking for the flexibility to book any available ticket on an extensive domestic network. You’ll also enjoy two free checked bags and fee-free changes on all award tickets.
There aren’t a lot of ways to stretch your Southwest points. But hopefully, after reading this post, you’ll know where to look.
Boost your Rapid Rewards balance with the generous welcome bonus from the Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card.
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