Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program Review

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program

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Southwest Summary Table

Southwest Airlines Overview

Southwest Airlines is the world’s original low cost carrier. It pioneered this travel model by offering low costs through a single fleet type, quick turnarounds, secondary airports, and minimum onboard amenities.

Today, it remains the dominant domestic carrier in the U.S., and is generally viewed favorably by all.

Southwest Locations Served

Southwest serves the U.S., Mexico, and more recently numerous Caribbean and Central American destinations after acquiring AirTran.

It often flies into secondary airports in major cities, which Southwest has turned into their own branded mini-hubs, like Dallas Love Field and Houston Hobby.

Unlike its legacy competitors, Southwest remains on top with the most unique point-to-point operations in the U.S.

Features of the Airline

Onboard amenities are all the same, with a single class of service and no inflight entertainment (though there is Wi-Fi, which includes some free TV channels).

It is the only airline in America without seat assignments; the first-come model even includes exit row seats.

Open Seating Policy
On a Southwest plane, if you’re looking for an assigned seat then you’re doing it wrong. Instead, the cabin is fully open seating.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Mileage Program

Southwest’s loyalty program, called Rapid Rewards, has simple guidelines for earnings and redemption, since there are no upgrades or preferred seating options on board its aircraft.

The airline was one of the first to change to a revenue-based miles reward system that’s based on ticket cost instead of actual miles flown.

Today, points are earned based on the cost of your ticket and a 3-tier fare scale multiplier. Depending on which fare class you purchase (Wanna Get Away, Anytime, or Business Select), you will earn between 6x-12x points.

Joining Southwest Rapid Rewards

Joining Southwest Rapid Rewards is easy and free. Go to their sign-up page to enter your information, and you will immediately be able to earn points.

You start off with no status, but as you accumulate flights and points, you will earn elite status (discussed in the next section), which comes with additional benefits.

How To Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Rapid Rewards Points can be earned through flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and Southwest Credit Card Partners, which include the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit CardChase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, and the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.

Chase Ultimate Rewards is also partnered with Southwest, and you can transfer points from Ultimate Rewards to Rapid Rewards if you have one of the following 3 cards: the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, or Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card.

In addition, having the following 3 cards allows you to earn even more points to combine and eventually transfer: the Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Chase Freedom®, or Chase Freedom Unlimited℠.

The number of points you earn depends on your fare class, fare paid, and your tier status. Your highest earning potential would be 24x if you purchased a seat in Business Select as an A-List Preferred member.

Other Ways To Earn Rapid Rewards Points

There are also numerous promotions and other incentives throughout the year for members to take advantage of, which can provide double or even triple earnings for flight segments.

Look out for the email blasts from Southwest to stay on top of their promotions. Southwest has no earning schemes with partner airlines, and points are not transferable to other carriers.

Earnings Going Up
While there are multiple ways to improve your Rapid Rewards point balance, you cannot earn any points when flying on other airlines.

How To Redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

You can redeem your points in many different ways, especially if you have the Southwest Companion Pass.

Unlike other carriers that have seat assignments, on Southwest every last seat is available for points redemption. Most airlines block out seats or groups of seats for their premium passengers or day-of operations.

Details on Booking Awards Flights

The number of points needed, however, depends on the current available fare, making the points a bit more like actual currency.

Thus, when a fare is on sale, the number of points required to book a seat would match the sale and also decrease.

As for revenue bookings, all Southwest fares are one-way, and redemptions can be made for individual legs in/out of separate airports without issue.

Woman Excited for Award Flight
Get excited for your next award trip! There are many ways to redeem your points. With Southwest, your points value changes as the price of a ticket fluctuates.

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open
  • Earn unlimited points that don't expire as long as your account is open
  • 3,000 points after your Cardmember anniversary every year
  • 2 points/$1 spent on Southwest® and participating Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental partners purchases
  • 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases
  • No blackout dates or seat restrictions
  • Bags fly free®
  • No change fees
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FAQ

What is Southwest Rapid Rewards? Is it worth it? What does it cost?
The Southwest frequent flyer program is called Southwest Rapid Rewards. It is similar to other airline loyalty programs in that you sign up, earn points and elite status, and redeem for rewards.

It is a free program, which means the benefits are typically worth the effort of signing up.

What are the benefits of Southwest Rapid Rewards?
Once you’ve signed up to Rapid Rewards, you get access to elite status benefits and rewards by earning points on flights.

Earning points in Rapid Rewards is on a per-dollar spent basis, both on flights and through travel partners. When redeeming, there are no blackout dates.

Southwest’s elite status tiers are A-List and A-List Preferred, and the Companion Pass is the highest award tier available (though this isn’t exactly an elite status).

Benefits of the various levels include priority boarding, bonus points, standby priority, and unlimited companion tickets (at the top tier).

In addition to using points to book rewards tickets, you can also use your points on travel partners. These include hotels and rental cars as well as shopping and more.

Because Southwest only flies domestically as a low-cost carrier, they partner with most major airlines to redeem international flights using points.

Where is my Southwest Rapid Rewards number?
You can find your Rapid Rewards number in a few different ways. First, you can sign in to your rewards account with your email and password if you have it available; your number will be shown on your account screen.

Next, you can find it on your membership card if you have it.

If you can’t access your accounts, you can use the “forgot my password” tool to send an email to your account. Finally, you can always call Southwest’s customer service in order to find your number.

What is the Southwest Rapid Rewards login? How do I sign up?
You can log in to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program here. You can sign up to the program through this link.

When do Southwest Rapid Rewards expire?
Points expire after 24 months of no qualifying activity; simply earn or redeem points during this time to keep points active.

What are Southwest Rapid Rewards points worth?
In general, points have been worth anywhere from $0.015 to $0.02 each. Your points are redeemed in dollar values, so whatever the cost of the flight is, you’ll pay for it with points.

Are Southwest Rapid Rewards points refundable?
Yes, any unused points are returned to your account on flights you have booked. If you need to make a change, you can call and update your reservation with no change fees.

Are Southwest Rapid Rewards points transferable?
Yes, you can transfer your Rapid Rewards points to another member here.

Who are the Southwest Rapid Rewards partners?
While a complete list can be found here, some of them include:

Best Western, Choice Hotels, Hyatt, LaQuinta Inns, Marriott, SPG, Avis, Hertz, Dollar rental cars, Super Shuttle, 1-800-flowers, and Reliant Energy.

Is there a Southwest Airlines credit card?
Yes, there are a few different cards: the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card, the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card, and the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card.

You can also use Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, Chase Freedom®, Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ to transfer to Rapid Rewards.

What is the Southwest Companion Pass?
The Companion Pass is the highest award available in Rapid Rewards.

Once you’ve reached 100 one-way flights or 110,000 points, you will get the ability to take 1 companion on any flight with you for free (they pay for taxes and fees, which are $5.60 each way).

This status is good immediately once you reach the level and through the remainder of the calendar year, then again for the rest of the following calendar year. In order to maintain the status, you must reach this level each year.