Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards is incredibly simple. With no blackout dates and a fixed value, you can book any Southwest flight with Rapid Rewards. The Southwest Credit Cards are very high on my list of recommended travel cards for this reason. Combine simple rewards with no change fees and two free checked bags and you’ve got a great program that anyone can use.
Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards for Flights
When redeemed for “Wanna Get Away” fares, Southwest Rapid Rewards have a fixed value of about 1.5 cents. The value goes down for “Anytime” or “Business Select” fares. There are no blackout dates which means if a seat is available on a Southwest plane, you can book it with rewards. But you should still look for the best deal!
As with all airlines, Southwest has busier days and times to fly. Those flights are going to cost more money and they will also cost more points. Get the most of your points by selecting flights on “off” days at “off times. Just remember, if you wouldn’t pay a high cash price for a flight, don’t pay for it with your points. And choose the Wanna Get Away fare! Also, keep an eye out for fare sales. Those are usually the best time to book so save your points for those sales.
When you book with Southwest, you can change your flight for free. However, if you book a Wanna Get Away fare with cash, your refund comes in the form of a Southwest credit for a future purchase. But if you book with Southwest Rapid Rewards, you get your points back immediately! (The refund for your taxes and fees still comes in the form of a Southwest credit.)
Seriously, it’s so easy to redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards, watch this cute kid explain it to you:
Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards for Other Rewards
Southwest Rapid Rewards can also be redeemed for international flights, hotel stays, rental cars, gift cards, and experiences. Most of these options have a much lower point value than 1.5 cents so I don’t recommend using your points this way.
Paid flights and certain spending on Southwest credit cards count towards earning status with Southwest. Although sign-up bonuses don’t count towards A-List or A-List Preferred, they do count towards the Companion Pass.
If you complete 25 one-way qualifying flights or earn 35,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year, you can obtain A-List status. A-List benefits include priority boarding, 25% earning bonus, free same-day standby, priority check-in and security lane access, and a dedicated member phone line.
A List Preferred
If you complete 50 one-way qualifying flights or earn 70,000 tier qualifying points in a calendar year, you earn A-List Preferred status. A-List Preferred benefits include priority boarding, 100% earning bonus, free same-day standby, priority check-in and security lane access, dedicated member phone line, and free inflight Wi-Fi.
If you fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, you earn a Companion Pass for the rest of the year in which you earned it and the entire following calendar year. I’ll go into more detail about the Companion Pass in another post, but this is one of the best deals in travel rewards!
Don’t Forget the Rapid Rewards Shopping Portal
I’ve already written about Earning Bonus Points & Miles with Shopping Portals, but Southwest has one of my favorites. You can shop through the Southwest Rapid Rewards portal and pay with any card you want. You get bonus Rapid Rewards for using the portal plus points from whichever credit card program you use. It’s a great way to double dip and earn points for two programs at once.
Final Thoughts on Redeeming Southwest Rapid Rewards
Once you start using the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, you’ll find it’s a great, simple way to fly (nearly) free. With flights all over the U.S. and to Mexico and the Caribbean, there are so many options for redeeming your points. Now if they’d just add in seat assignments, it would be perfect. You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Southwest Rapid Rewards so make sure to check out the Chase Sapphire Preferred to earn even more points.