Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program Review

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Loyalty Program Review

We may be compensated when you click on links from one or more of our advertising partners. Opinions and recommendations are ours alone. Terms apply to offers below. See our Advertiser Disclosure for more details.

Branded and Partnered Credit Cards

There are several credit cards you can use to earn Rapid Rewards points directly or through points transfer.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards

You can earn Rapid Rewards directly with any of 3 co-branded Chase cards.

Hot Tip: Check out the benefits of the best Southwest credit cards!

Chase Ultimate Rewards Credit Cards

If you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can get more Rapid Rewards points even quicker thanks to numerous bonus categories.

Personal Cards

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card - This is our favorite beginners travel rewards card, which is currently offering a 60,000 point bonus after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

The card earns 5x points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on dining and 2x points on all other travel purchases, plus more. Enjoy a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, and other travel benefits such as excellent travel insurance coverage, including car rental insurance and no foreign transaction fees, this card is a very rewarding card.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® - This premium card will get you access to 1,300+ airport lounges. as well as a number of other card benefits. The current sign up bonus is 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You'll also get a $300 travel credit per year which wipes away a big chunk of the $550 annual fee. As an extra bonus, until 12/31/21, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit.

Earn big with this card, earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® card - A solid, no annual fee card that earns you a $200 bonus after you spend $500 in your first 3 months. Earn 5% cash-back on grocery store purchases (not including Target or Walmart purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year, and 5% on travel purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Then earn 3% cash-back on dining and drugstore purchases, and 1.5% cash-back on all other purchases, but you won't get any travel benefits with this card.

Business Cards

Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card - this is our #1 recommended business card and right now comes with a 100,000 sign up bonus after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months after account opening. This bonus is worth $1,000 cash back or $1,250 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Pay your cell phone bill with this card to receive up to $600 in cell phone insurance coverage per year; as well as a number of other benefits.

Earn 3x on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year, plus 1x on all other purchases — with no limit to the amount you can earn. All for an annual fee of $95.
Ink Business Cash® Credit Card - Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

This no annual fee business card earns up to 5% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on internet, cable and phone services each account anniversary year, plus 2% cash-back on the first $25,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each account anniversary.
Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card - Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards on every purchase made for your business.

Earn $750 bonus cash back after you spend $7,500 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. There's no annual fee.

Hotel Partner Credit Cards

A few hotel programs will let you transfer points to Southwest. However, this is almost always a poor use of hotel points which we do not recommend!

Southwest Airlines Overview

Southwest’s place in the public mind is still as a U.S. budget airline, and Rapid Rewards is Southwest’s loyalty program.

Today’s reality is that Southwest is one of the largest U.S. airlines that also flies to a number of popular vacation destinations in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Southwest has stayed true to its customer-friendly policies such as 2 free checked bags per person on every ticket, while the “legacy” U.S. airlines have frequently cut travel benefits. With the rollout of restrictive basic economy fares on American, Delta, and United, you could even consider these as more “budget” airlines now based on travel experience.

Rapid Rewards is a revenue-based program, meaning you earn points based on the amount spent on flights rather than distance flown. Similarly, you redeem points based on the price of the ticket. However, point values are not fixed — they fluctuate based on several factors, so pick what flights to use them on to get the best value.

Joining Rapid Rewards

Vist the Southwest website to join for free here.

Southwest Enroll Rapid Rewards

How to Sign in to Your Rapid Rewards Account

Sign in on the homepage. You’ll need your account number or username and password.

Southwest Log In Rapid Rewards

Viewing Your Account Activity

Use the My Rapid Rewards page to manage your profile and see your account snapshot, activity, and promotions.

Points Expiration

Rapid Rewards points expire after 24 months of inactivity. Any earning or redeeming activity qualifies to reset the clock.

Southwest Rapid Rewards Mileage Program

Southwest Airlines A-List Status

Rapid Rewards has 2 elite status levels, A-List and A-List Preferred.

A-List Benefits:

  • Priority check-in and security
  • Priority boarding
  • Free same-day standby
  • 25% point bonus

A-List Preferred Benefits:

  • All A-List benefits, plus
  • Free inflight Wi-Fi
  • 100% point bonus

Value of Rapid Rewards Elite Status

Southwest Airlines does not have first class seats or worldwide airline partners, so many of the elite benefits of other airline programs are not relevant. Similarly, since Southwest tickets come with free checked baggage and their generous change/cancel policy, elite status holders don’t need these kinds of fee waivers.

What A-List and A-List Preferred do add are a few choice travel benefits that improve the Southwest flying experience.

Without advance seat assignments, priority boarding through A-List is a great benefit.

Moving up to A-List Preferred, free inflight Wi-Fi is a benefit provided by no other U.S. airline elite status.

Beyond A-List Preferred there is the Companion Pass that we discuss below. It does not come with any traditional elite benefits, but it solely awards free companion travel. It is also earned by a different method than A-List, making it possible to have a Companion Pass without A-List status.

Earning A-List Status

A-List is earned by 25 one-way flights or 35,000 Tier Qualifying Points (TQP) per calendar year.

A-List Preferred requires double that: 50 one-way flights or 70,000 Tier Qualifying Points.

Tier Qualifying Points are only earned in 2 ways:

  • Paid Southwest flights
  • Spending on Southwest Airlines credit cards (1,500 TQP per $10,000 spend, up to maximum 15,000 TQP earned this way).

How to Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

There are many ways to earn Rapid Rewards points. Our earn 100k+ Southwest points in 90 days shows how fast you can do it!

Flying Southwest

You earn Rapid Rewards points for Southwest flights based on your fare type and price:

  • Business Select – 12 points per dollar (excludes taxes and fees)
  • Anytime – 10 points per dollar (excludes taxes and fees)
  • Wanna Get Away – 6 points per dollar (excludes taxes and fees)

Travelers with A-List status earn additional bonus points:

  • A-List — 25% bonus Rapid Rewards points
  • A-List Preferred— 100% bonus Rapid Rewards points

Flying Partner Airlines

Southwest does not have partner airlines.

Earn Points With Rental Car Partners

Earn 600 points per rental when you book a car through Southwest’s rental car partners.

These are especially useful for rentals with agencies where many other airlines offer few or no miles: Alamo, Budget, Dollar, Thrifty, and Payless. You can also earn points with Avis, Hertz, and National.

Even better, check out special offers for rental cars. Current offers for Rapid Rewards members include 1,200-2,400 bonus points plus up to 35% off rentals through January 2018!

Earn Points With Other Partners

Rapid Rewards has many additional partners. See Best Ways to Earn Lots of Southwest Rapid Rewards Points for our picks.

Earn Points With Credit Card Partners

Southwest offers 3 credit cards through its bank partner Chase:

  • The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card earns 2x on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases, plus a 3,000-point bonus every card anniversary
  • The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card earns 2x on Southwest purchases and Rapid Rewards® Hotel and Car Rental Partner purchases, plus a 6,000-point bonus every card anniversary
  • The Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card earns 2x on Southwest purchases, plus a 6,000-point bonus every card anniversary

Chase credit cards with Ultimate Rewards earn points quickly in bonus categories, which can be seen in the table below.

You need at least 1 premium travel rewards card (“*” in below table) to transfer to Southwest. As long as you have 1 eligible transfer card, you can consolidate all your Ultimate Rewards points to that card.

Ultimate Rewards points transfer to Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 rate.

CategoryApplicable Credit CardsBonus miles
Office Supply StoresChase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card5x
Cell Phones/LandlinesInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*3x
 Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card5x
Internet/CableInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*3x
 Chase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card5x
Shipping PurchasesInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*3x
Select AdvertisingInk Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*3x
Gas StationsChase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card2x
 Chase Freedom®5x (during quarterly bonus)
RestaurantsChase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card2x
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*2x
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card*3x
Chase Freedom®5x (during quarterly bonus)
HotelsChase Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card2x
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card*2x
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card*3x
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*3x
All TravelChase Sapphire Preferred® Card*2x
Chase Sapphire Reserve℠ Card*3x
Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card*3x
Quarterly Bonus CategoryChase Freedom®5x
All PurchasesChase Freedom Unlimited℠1.5x
All Other PurchasesAll cards except the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠1x

Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal

Southwest’s shopping portal allows you to earn points for shopping online. Once registered, check your email for regular promotions to earn extra bonus miles.

See our guide on How to Maximize the Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal.

 The Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining Program

Southwest’s Dining Program earns 3 points per dollar when dining at restaurants in the network. (If you decline to receive email notifications you only earn 1 point per $2.)

Sign-up bonuses range from 300 to 2,000 points and change from time to time. Bonuses typically require at least 1 qualifying dine within 30 days of registration, so plan ahead prior to joining.

Rapid Rewards Dining is provided by Rewards Network, which also manages the other major airline dining programs. You can be in multiple programs, though each credit card can only be registered in 1 program at a time.

See our guide on How to Maximize the Rapid Rewards Dining Program.

How to Redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Southwest awards are only available on Southwest flights and are revenue-based, so finding awards is straightforward: search on to show the price in points.

This does not mean points are the same value for every flight. Points value is based on “destination, time, travel date, demand, fare class, and other factors.”

Often, Southwest points price at:

  • Business Select fare: 120 points/$1 (e.g., $300 fare = 36,000 points)
  • Anytime fare: 100 points/$1 (e.g., $300 fare = 30,000 points)
  • Wanna Get Away fare: 70 points/$1 (e.g., $300 fare = 21,000 points)

The Southwest Destination Finder is a good tool to search routes and estimate price, though you still need to search for the points price on specific flights.


Southwest Destination Finder

The Companion Pass

The Southwest Companion Pass is unique among U.S. airlines and prized by many travelers.

You’ll be granted the Companion Pass after earning 110,000 points in a calendar year by the following means:

  • Southwest flights (base points only, not bonus points)
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card sign-up bonus and purchases
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Dining purchases
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping portal purchases

What doesn’t count (these rules were updated April 1, 2017 to eliminate options such as partner hotel transfers):

  • Points transferred from other programs or accounts such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or hotel partners
  • Purchased points
  • Flight bonus points
  • Tier bonus points
  • Points earned from surveys
  • Partner bonus points

Timing the Companion Pass

The Companion Pass is valid from the date it is earned to December 31 of the following year.

If you earn 110,000 points in January, you’ll have nearly 2 years of Companion Pass!

Picking a Companion

You must designate a companion for your Companion Pass.

Should you need to change companions, you can do so up to 3 times per year.

Your companion cannot use the Companion Pass without you, so you must be present on all travel using the pass. It is possible to book your companion for only a portion of your itinerary.

How to Use the Companion Pass

You can use the Companion Pass on any paid or award Southwest travel. Enjoy!

Frequently asked questions

What is Southwest Rapid Rewards? Is it worth it? What does it cost?

The Southwest Airlines 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 it 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 here.

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 $0.013 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.

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, Avis, Hertz, Dollar rental cars, Super Shuttle, 1-800-Flowers, and Reliant Energy.

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 in the U.S. 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.

Alex Miller

About Alex Miller

Alex has been traveling for over 25 years and from a young age was lucky enough to set out on numerous family trips all over the world, which gave him the travel bug. Alex has since earned millions of travel points and miles, mainly through maximizing credit card sign-up bonuses and taking every opportunity to earn the most points possible on each dollar spent.

Travel prices are about to surge from pent-up demand.

Use this points strategy to lock in pennies-on-the-dollar pricing in 2021, all without being a frequent flyer...

How do I only pay $30 to go to Hawaii, $200 for business class to Asia or just $150 to Europe?

Discover the real-life strategies that anyone can use to enjoy limitless travel (even on a limited budget!)

Just sign up below and I’ll send you the Limitless Travel Playbook instantly:

We respect your privacy. Please view our privacy policy here.

Disclaimer: Any comments listed below are not from the bank advertiser, nor have they been reviewed or approved by them. No responsibility will be taken by the bank advertiser for these comments.


  1. Chris Reynolds June 14, 2018

    It is worth mentioning that booking a hotel with southwest rapid rewards is the most miserable experience booking a hotel of a persons life. Their website speed and capabilities remind me of a website from the late 90’s being run on a farm in Missouri. It took me 2.5 hours to book one hotel for one night in Florence, Italy because the slow site and false advertising. Each time I would chose a hotel the points would rise by 4000 and then I would have to go back and find another options. Miserable experience.


  2. stephen roccia August 21, 2021

    My company requires me to use their corporate AmEx card to book flights. If I fly Southwest, will I still gain points even if I do not use the Chase Premier card?


    • Hi Stephen,
      Yes, if you are flying Southwest you will earn Southwest points for your flight as long as your Rapid Rewards number is tied to the reservation.


Any thoughts or questions? Comment below!

Advertiser Disclosure

Many of the credit card offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies from which we receive financial compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). However, the credit card information that we publish has been written by experts who know these products inside out, and what we recommend is what we would (or already) use ourselves. This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers that are on the market. Click here to see a list of advertisers that we work with.