How To Spend Southwest Airlines Rapid Reward Points

Spending points for Southwest Airlines flights is the main focus of the Rapid Rewards program.

Rapid Rewards is the mileage/points program of Southwest Airlines. It is a good program for regular airline users to build up points – based mainly on flight purchases and associated credit card spending. When it comes to spending, the main option is to use points for Southwest Airlines flights. There are other options, but these will generally offer less value.

Using points for Southwest Airlines flights

You can book any Southwest Airlines flight using points. The pricing in points uses a dynamic pricing system – in common with most other US airlines these days. This means that the amount of points needed is related to the cash price and can change regularly.


There is no fixed ratio, but you should get a value of around 1.5 cents per point. You have to pay some taxes in cash. With US domestic flights, you only pay the security surcharge (currently $5.60). With international flights, other government taxes will be added.

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 N8801Q-1

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Searching for flights is straightforward. This is all built into the main Southwest Airlines flight search system – you just toggle between cash prices and points. There is no option to part-pay with points, as offered by some points programs.You can book any of the fare options using points – including Wanna Get Away, Wanna Get Away Plus, Anytime, and Business Select.

Southwest Airlines

Image: Southwest Airlines

Pay attention to the benefits offered by the different fares, though. All fares booked using points are refundable right up to 10 minutes before flight departure. This includes the lowest Wanna Get Away fares, so there is much less incentive to upgrade to the higher Anytime or Business Select fares.

Take advantage of the Southwest Companion Pass

There are no other ways to redeem points for inflight extras or partner flights. But there is a way to double the value of points using a Companion Pass. This is a popular offering from Southwest Airlines, not matched by most other airlines. The pass allows a named companion to get a free ticket (just with paid taxes) when you buy any ticket for cash or for points.

You earn a Companion Pass based on flight activity, or total Qualifying Points earned (these are the same as those used to calculate elite status). The two options for earning it are:

  • Fly 100 Southwest Airlines flights (each segment counts as a flight).
  • Earn 125,000 Qualifying Points. These include all points earned from flights, certain credit card spending, and through hotel and car hire partners.

Southwest Airlines

Photo: Shutterstock

Other ways to spend points

The Rapid Rewards program is not a good option for anyone not regularly flying Southwest Airlines. As such, most people will use points for flights. Other options are limited to co-branded credit card holders. They have access to a portal known as “More Rewards” which allows points to be used for gift cards and selected merchandise. The value here is often significantly lower than for flight tickets, however.

Do you use Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards? Feel free to discuss how you collect and use points in the comments. What value do you normally expect to get?

  • Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 San Francisco

    Southwest Airlines

    IATA/ICAO Code:

    Airline Type:
    Low-Cost Carrier

    Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, Dallas Love Field, Denver International Airport, Harry Reid International Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Houston Hobby Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Midway International Airport, Oakland International Airport, Orlando International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    Year Founded:

    Robert Jordan

    United States

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