- Points never expire
- Multiple worthwhile co-branded credit cards
- Points are valuable when used to book flights
- No blackout dates on reward flights
- No short-notice booking fee
- No airline partners
- Points are more expensive to buy than they are worth
- Fewer destinations than top competitors
Rapid Rewards Review Summary
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is the 8th best frequent flyer program for 2021, according to WalletHub’s review. Some of the best features of Southwest Rapid Rewards are points worth an average of 1.46 cents apiece that do not expire, numerous ways to earn points, and up to 100% bonus points on bookings.
Below, you can find a detailed analysis of the Rapid Rewards program, from the ways to earn and redeem points to status levels and destinations. You can also see how Rapid Rewards compares to other popular frequent flyer programs.
Rapid Rewards Review Scorecard
#1 for Earning Policies
#4 for Rewards Value
#9 for Redemption Policies
#7 for Destination Coverage
#7 for Other Features
|Rapid Rewards Points Needed for a Free Flight:||Min: 2,510 |
|Average Rapid Rewards Point Value:||1 mile= 1.46 cents |
1,000 miles= $14.6
|Rapid Rewards Airline Partners:||Southwest does not have any airline partners.|
How to Earn Rapid Rewards Points
Category Rating: 13/15
Rapid Rewards members get points every time they make a purchase through Southwest or one of its partners. Below, you can learn all about what types of transactions award points and how many they offer.
Transactions That Earn Rapid Rewards Points
- 6 - 12 Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent: Southwest flights
- 1 Rapid Rewards point per $1 spent: Tours and other activities booked with Southwest
- 1 - 3 Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent: Purchases on a Southwest credit card
- 0.5 - 3 Rapid Rewards points per $1 spent: Dining at participating restaurants (varies by location)
- 1 Rapid Rewards point per $1 spent: Gas at participating Marathon locations
- 600 Rapid Rewards points per stay: Stays at hotel partners including Best Western, Carlson, Hyatt, Marriott and MGM
- 600 Rapid Rewards points per rental: Car rentals with partners including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty
- 1,200 Rapid Rewards points per year: Bonus for an Emergency Assistance+ membership (offers medical assistance, emergency cash advances and help replacing lost documents while traveling)
In addition, Southwest may provide special deals on its website from time to time that give you more points than usual on a booking or charge fewer than usual on a reward flight.
Other Key Things to Know About Earning Rapid Rewards Points
Earning limitations: Southwest does not specify a maximum number of points you can earn per ticket.
Retroactive flight credit for members: Rapid Rewards members can get credited for points from any Southwest flight taken in the past 12 months if their frequent flyer number was not on the reservation (as long as they were a member at the time).
Retroactive flight credit for non-members: New Rapid Rewards members can get points for flights taken up to 12 months before they became a member.
How Much Are Rapid Rewards Points Worth?
Category Rating: 10/20
Rapid Rewards points are worth 1.46 cents each, on average, according to WalletHub’s research. That means you need about 16,500 Rapid Rewards miles to get a free flight, based on the average domestic fare of $245.
Below, you can check out how many Southwest Rapid Rewards miles you’ll need for some popular round-trip routes, on average.
- New York to Los Angeles: 25,220 miles (or $393.97)
- Los Angeles to Washington DC: 20,721 miles or ($336.26)
- Los Angeles to Cancun: 19,500 miles or ($393.56)
How to Redeem Rapid Rewards Points
Category Rating: 12/20
|Redemption Method||More Info|
|Flights||Book Southwest flights|
|Upgrade your seat on a flight to a higher class|
|Purchase gift cards in categories like dining, entertainment, home & office, travel and more|
|Trade points for car rentals, hotel stays and cruises|
|Shop for products from a variety of merchants in categories like electronics, sporting goods, fashion and more|
|Donate points to charities like the Student Conservation Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Honor Flight Network|
|Use points for special experiences like guided tours, boat excursions and zoo tickets|
More Key Things to Know About Redeeming Rapid Rewards Points
- There are no booking blackout dates.
- You can book a flight with points up to 220 days before departure.
- There is no short-notice booking fee.
- Southwest does not allow stopovers on reward flights.
- There is no award-ticket redeposit/cancellation fee.
Other Features of the Rapid Rewards Program
Category Rating: 8/20
The Southwest Rapid Rewards program is free to join, but you won’t get any benefits from it – other than the ability to earn points at the program’s base rate – until you qualify for one of the two higher status tiers. You can earn your way to a higher tier through either the number of flights you take or the number of points you earn. The higher your Rapid Rewards status level is, the more perks you will get when flying with Southwest and the more you will save when you fly.
Below, you can see exactly what you’ll need to do to achieve and maintain each Rapid Rewards status level, along with the benefits that come with it.
|Rapid Rewards Levels||How to Qualify||Point Bonus||Other Notable Perks|
|Basic member||Join the program for free||None||Earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points|
|A-List||25 one-way qualifying flights|
35,000 tier-qualifying points
Same-day standby benefit (option to get an earlier flight if available)
Priority check-in and security lane access
Dedicated A-List member phone line
|A-List Preferred||50 one-way qualifying flights|
70,000 tier-qualifying points
Free in-flight WiFi
Members must satisfy a given status level’s qualifying requirements between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 to reach or maintain that status level and enjoy its benefits. Once you earn any Rapid Rewards status level, you will keep it for the rest of the current calendar year and all of the next calendar year.
More Key Details About the Other Features of Rapid Rewards
- Points never expire.
- You can transfer points between accounts for a fee.
- Buying points costs more than they’re worth, as there’s a 67% markup.
Where Can Rapid Rewards Points Take You?
Category Rating: 4/25
Southwest flies to 101 U.S. destinations and 10 international destinations. Southwest does not have any airline partners, however.
Summary: Southwest Rapid Rewards Scores by Review Category
Rapid Rewards Credit Cards
Opinions and ratings are our own. This review is not provided, commissioned or endorsed by any issuer. Some offers are from WalletHub partners.
Applying for a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card is worth considering if you have good credit or better and fly with Southwest at least a few times per year. There are multiple Southwest credit cards available, and you can see a comparison of them below.
Rapid Rewards Credit Card Offers Compared
|Rapid Rewards Credit Card||Annual Fee||Initial Bonus|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card||$69||40,000 points|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||$149||40,000 points|
|Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card||$99||40,000 points|
|Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card||$199||80,000 points|
|Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card||$99||60,000 points|
8 Tips for Rapid Rewards Members
- The best way to redeem Rapid Rewards points is for Southwest flights. Points are worth 1.46 cents apiece that way.
- Pool or transfer points if it makes sense. Rapid Rewards allows members to pool their points together for easier redemption, but there is a fee.
- Avoid buying Rapid Rewards points, if possible. Rapid Rewards points cost more to purchase than they are worth when redeemed, on average. However, it could be worth buying a small number if it puts you over the top for a free flight.
- Take advantage of status perks.One of the biggest reasons that airline rewards programs are worth joining is that their status levels tend to provide a wealth of benefits, such as bonus miles, priority boarding and free in-flight WiFi. Make sure you take advantage of everything Southwest Rapid Rewards offers.
- Consider applying for a Rapid Rewards credit card. The best Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card could save the average person roughly $3,000 over the first two years of use, according to WalletHub’s calculations.
- Try the Island Approach with your credit cards. Rapid Rewards credit cards offer competitive rewards on Southwest flights, but different credit cards may provide better terms on other types of transactions. Using a collection of cards for specialized purposes can enable you to get the best deal on everything you buy.
- Make sure to read Southwest reviews & Rapid Rewards FAQs. Learning from experts and fellow travelers will help you pick up some helpful tips as well as avoid tricks and pitfalls.
- Compare your flight options if you’re not wedded to Rapid Rewards. Southwest is not the only airline with a rewarding loyalty program. You can see how Rapid Rewards compares to a couple of popular alternatives below. You can also check out WalletHub’s rankings of the Best Frequent Flyer Programs to learn more.
Rapid Rewards vs. SkyMiles vs. AAdvantage
|Category||Southwest Rapid Rewards||Delta SkyMiles||American Airlines AAdvantage|
|Average Mile Value||1.46 cents||1.21 cents||1.27 cents|
|Average Daily U.S. Departures||2,424||1,569||1,583|
|Mile expiration||Never||Never||After 18 months of inactivity|
|Credit Card to Consider||Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card||Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card||American Airlines AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red Credit Card|
Rapid Rewards Review Methodology
Overall program rankings are based on the same methodology as WalletHub’s annual study on the Best Frequent Flyer Programs. Editor’s ratings reflect the sum of each rewards program’s scores across the study’s 6 major categories – airline coverage, partner coverage, rewards value, earning policies, redemption policies and other features – adjusted to a 5-point scale, to create a representative distribution of ratings.
WalletHub calculated Southwest Rapid Rewards point values by comparing flight rates between U.S. cities and popular travel destinations – both domestic and international – to the number of points needed to book a flight. We applied the process to round-trip flights from Friday to Monday for each destination’s high and shoulder tourist seasons.