Best Ways to Use Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

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Southwest Rapid Rewards is a good points program for people who want to easily use their points for economy flights.

The number of points needed for a flight is directly connected to the cash price of a ticket. The cheaper the ticket, the fewer points are required.

How to Redeem Southwest Points

Redeeming points for Southwest flights is really easy. Just check the points box on flight search on Southwest’s home page.

Southwest booking

You are then given flight search results. Remember the cheaper the flight, the less points are required. 

You can generally get the best flight deals booking Southwest flights far in advance. Flights within two weeks of departure are typically quite expensive.

Southwest Flights Using Points
Southwest Flights Using Points

In this flight search, the $103 cash ticket only costs 6,863 points, whereas the flight that cost almost twice as much $197 costs about twice as many points (14,196 points). 

Southwest flights using cash
Southwest Flights Using Cash

You can also save points if the price of your flight drops. All you have to do is rebook your flight and Southwest will refund the points to your account. 

Domestic Flights on Southwest

We looked at the prices of ten different domestic flights to find the average value of one point. 

We found that one Southwest point is worth about 1.38 cents, but the cheapest flights have the highest points value.

You can calculate the cents per point with a simple formula of (Cash price – taxes and fees) divided by the number of points. 

Taxes and fees for domestic flights are $5.60 each way or $11.20 round-trip.

Route Points Cash Cents Per Point
STL-LAX 13,650 $186 1.32
FLL-HOU 14,040 $191 1.32
BWI-MDW 11,700 $161 1.38
LAX-SEA 3,744 $63 1.53
DAL-MSP 6,084 $89 1.37
FLL-ATL 6,084 $89 1.37
OAK-LAS 5,148 $87 1.58
OAK-HNL 12,012 $165 1.33
MDW-MSY 6,153 $89 1.36
HOU-ABQ 15,522 $210 1.32

International Flights on Southwest

We also looked at the prices of ten international flight to see if there was a big difference in the points values.

Taxes and fees are higher for international flights and can be between $5 to $49 each way.

We found that Southwest points are slightly lower on average than domestic flights with an average value of 1.34 cents per point.

Route Points Cash Cents Per Point
STL-CUN 16,926 $258 1.34
LAX-CUN 18,486 $278 1.33
DAL-AUA 22,620 $315 1.32
MDW-PUJ 16,302 $265 1.34
BWI-NAS 13,104 $179 1.32
HOU-MBJ 13,026 $222 1.32
SMF-SJD 12,012 $195 1.36
DEN-BZE 13,962 $194 1.35
HOU-BZE 12,402 $170 1.33
FLL-SJO 7,722 $126 1.34

Taxes and Fees One-Way: Cancun-CUN ($31.77), Aruba-AUA ($15.60), Punta Cana-PUJ ($46.90), Nassau, Bahamas-NAS ($5.60), Montego Bay, Jamaica- MBJ ($49.60), Cabo San Lucas- SJD ($31.77), Belize- BZE ($5.60), and Costa Rica-SJO ($22.15).

More Rewards Store

If you are a Southwest credit cardholder, you can also redeem Southwest points via the “More Rewards” store for gift cards, merchandise, hotels, rental cars, other airlines, and special experiences.

Redeeming points this way is not a good value. Most items are around 0.5 to 0.7 cents per point. Whereas, you could redeem points for flights at almost double the rate!

The Verdict

Southwest Rapid Rewards program is pretty straight-forward compared to other airline programs. 

The main disadvantage of the Rapid Rewards is that there is no way to fly business class with Southwest and you can’t fly Southwest to Europe, Asia, or South America.

However, the Companion Pass is an amazing benefit that you should consider opening two credit cards to achieve. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Our research showed that one Southwest Rapid Rewards point is worth about 1.38 cents.

Southwest points do not expire. Southwest points previously expired after 24 months of inactivity, but Southwest changed its policy in 2019. 

No. You either have to use Southwest points for Southwest flights, or you can redeem the points for gift cards and merchandise if you have a Southwest credit card.

No. Southwest points are somewhat unique in that you can only use their points for Southwest flights.

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