You can use Rapid Rewards points to purchase Southwest flights. But, did you know that you can use your Southwest points for gift cards, shopping, experiences, hotels, and more? In an era when most airlines receive constant criticism, Southwest still has a large group of die-hard fans. Here are some ways to redeem Southwest points. The U.S.-based low-cost commercial airline is an excellent option for travelers who want to fly without feeling like they are flying on a budget. This is because of Southwest’s flight sales( know about it by contacting Southwest airlines), no-change-fee policy, and two free checked baggage allowance on all flights.
Furthermore, great deals can be had when you redeem points. In this travel guide prepared by Treknova, we shall take a look at the best ways to redeem your Southwest Rapid Rewards points for maximum value. Also, you will provide you tips on how to find low-cost award flights, how to redeem your points for things such as hotels, rental cars, and gift cards, and how to earn more Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
A Brief Overview of Southwest Rapid Rewards Points
Southwest Airlines splits its fares into three categories. These are:
(a) Business Select: The Business Select ticket costs the most. Southwest does not have first-class seating, but you do get some extra benefits, like priority boarding and free drinks.
(b) Anytime: Southwest’s Anytime ticket is quite like the middle-of-a-road option. Flights are refundable and changeable.
(c) Wanna Get Away: Southwest’s Wanna Get Away ticket is the cheapest among the three. Flights are refundable, but only as a credit to be used on a future flight. If you booked with points, your points will be refunded back into your account. You can also change your flights.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points program is cost-based. That means the number of points you need for an awards flight depends on the price of the flight. This is very different from region-based awards systems like American or United. There is not a set dollar-to-point conversion. On average, a Southwest point is worth 1.5 – 1.8 cents. Anything lower is not a great deal, so you can do the calculation to make sure your flight falls within this range.
There are no black-out dates or seat restrictions on award flights. As long as the flight has a seat available, you can book it with points. You always want to book award travel early, but this is especially important with Southwest. The earlier you book, the lower prices you will find, which means fewer points are required. Generally, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the cheapest days to fly.
Southwest does not impose fuel surcharges. For domestic flights, you only have to pay a $5.60 Security Fee each way. However, taxes and fees for international flights vary.
Southwest Rapid Rewards Points Redemption Options
One of the joys of the Rapid Rewards program is that Southwest makes it easy to figure out what your options are and which options offer the best value. You can quickly calculate the value of your points by viewing a list of flights by price and then selecting the points option on Southwest’s select flight screen.
While Southwest has very limited redemption options in terms of international flights, you can really make Rapid Rewards points stretch when booking domestic flights, as well as flights to Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Here are some of the best ways to make the most of your Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
Southwest Airlines points can be redeemed through various options that are listed below.
- Wanna Get Away fare (1.6 cents per mile)
- Anytime fare (1.1 cents per mile)
- Business Select fare (0.9 cents per mile)
- Gift cards (0.7 cents per mile)
- Car rentals (0.7 cents per mile)
- International flights (0.8 cents per mile)
- Merchandise (0.6 cents per mile)
- Hotel (0.2 cents per mile)
- Experiences (0.8 cents per mile)
The Best Card for Southwest Flyers – Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority credit card is by far the best value for a frequent Southwest flyer, thanks to its $75 travel credit and 7,500-point annual bonus.
The benefits you get from using this card are as follows:
- 40,000 points if you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months
- 7,500 bonus points each year after your card anniversary
- $75 annual travel credit
- 4 Upgraded Boardings per year when available
- 20% discount on in-flight purchases made with your card
Before you redeem Southwest points, you have to earn them. Fortunately, Southwest makes it easy for you to earn points. The value of Southwest points depends on the cash cost of the airfare and how many points it costs to redeem. It is estimated that Southwest points are worth 1.6 – 2.0 cents per mile. This means that 10,000 points could be redeemed for a flight that costs around $160 to $200. The quickest way to earn lots of Southwest points is by using credit cards. The welcome bonuses offer lots of points, as long as you meet the minimum spend requirement.
Redeeming Rapid Rewards Points for your Southwest Airfare – Ways To Redeem Southwest Points
If you want to get the best return on your Southwest Rapid Rewards points, your best bet is to redeem them for airfare on Southwest Airlines. The airline carrier offers a great value on most of its flight awards. These are mentioned as follows:
Wanna Get Away fares
Southwest’s Wanna Get Away fares offer the best value for your points, which is usually around 1.6 cents per point on average. The tickets are not quite as flexible as any time and Business Select fares, however, you will not get a full refund if you cancel a Southwest airlines ticket that you paid for in cash. But, Southwest will redeposit your points into your account if you paid with points, so this is great for award tickets. However, you will want to book well in advance since they tend to get taken up quickly.
Southwest’s Anytime fare is nearly the same as a Wanna Get Away fare, except that the ticket is fully refundable and the price is much higher. If you cannot find a Wanna Get Away fare for your desired date and location, then an Anytime fare is your next best bet. You will earn around 1.1 cents per point on an Anytime fare.
Business Select fares
Lastly, Southwest’s Business Select fares give you additional privileges. You are entitled to priority boarding, a priority security lane, and free drinks. However, the price of the Business Select fare is high and you get a poor value on redemptions, i.e., just around 0.9 cents per point. That we don’t think is worth redeeming your points for Business Select fares.
Redeem Points on Southwest Airlines More Rewards Portal
The Southwest More Rewards site provides a few additional redemption options for Rapid Rewards members who are not satisfied with their flight choices with Southwest Airlines. Unfortunately, the value of most items on the More Rewards site is not very impressive. Therefore, we would not advise using your points this way:
You can find gift cards for a wide variety of restaurants and retailers on the Southwest More Rewards site for amounts of $25 to $100. While you can get the best return on $50 to $100 gift cards, the value of gift cards is poor across the board, averaging only 0.7 cents per point.
You can redeem Rapid Rewards points for a variety of merchandise, such as clothing, electronics, and home furnishings. As with most rewards programs, merchandise is one of the worst ways to redeem your Rapid Rewards points. You will only get 0.6 cents per point on average.
You can use Rapid Rewards points to rent cars from a selection of agencies, including Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz, and National. Your Rapid Rewards points are worth only 0.7 cents per point on average when redeemed for rental cars.
While your options for international flights are limited on Southwest Airlines, you can find options for international flights on more than 50 carriers through the Southwest More Rewards portal. The flight search works very much like any travel portal, where you can search by origin, destination, and date, and you are given a list of flights on different airlines sorted by price. Unfortunately, this option cuts your point value in half. When you compare the number of points required for a fare to the price of the fare, the value averages 0.8 cents per point.
Similar to international flights, you can use the Southwest More Rewards portal to search for hotels in various cities. This is by far the worst option for redeeming Rapid Rewards points. If you do a comparison of the redemption value for hotels in various cities, you will find points to be worth only 0.2 cents on average.
Finally, you can redeem Southwest Rapid Rewards points for various experiences, such as tours, museum admission, and activities. The pricing varies quite a bit with each item on the list, where some experiences may appear to be overpriced. However, there are some good deals to be found here and there and some unique ideas for activities on your next trip, so the list is worth a look.
How to Find Southwest Airlines More Rewards Portal and Book Your Flight with Points
Here is a quick step-by-step guide to help you find the More Rewards portal.
1. To find all the options on the Southwest website, you need to navigate to the More Rewards portal. To do so, simply click on the “Rapid Rewards” link located in the upper right corner of the Southwest.com website.
2. Then click on the “Redeem for More Rewards” option from the list under the Program menu.
3. Next, you will need to click on the “Shop Exclusive Offers” button if you are a Rapid Rewards credit card holder, or the “Shop Rewards” button if you do not have a Rapid Rewards credit card. From here, you will be able to see all the items you can purchase with your Rapid Rewards points.
The main shopping categories are:
- Home, Garden, and Tools
- Kids and Baby
- Hot Deals
- Gifts and Giving
- What’s New
With each shopping category, you are also provided different subcategories. You can click on each one to see all the items that are available to you. This will bring up a typical shopping page. You will see all the items available are listed in the main section with filtering options to the left of the screen. The only difference is that the prices are listed in Rapid Rewards points instead of dollars.
4. To purchase an item, click on the item then click the “Add to Shopping Bag” button. You may be prompted to log in to your Rapid Rewards account if you are not already logged in.
5. You will need to confirm your order and click the “Continue” button. Enter your shipping information and click the “Continue” button again.
6. Click the “Submit Order” button to complete your order.
Note: Orders can not be canceled once placed, so be sure everything is correct before you submit your order.
As mentioned earlier, Southwest Airlines provides redemption options to you in a simple manner. While you have a few different options for redeeming points, you should probably stick to redeeming points for airfare, more specifically, Wanna Get Away fares. You can count on getting around 1.6 value on each point that you redeem for a Wanna Get Away fare.