Our evaluations and opinions are not influenced by our advertising relationships, but we may earn a commission from our partners’ links. This content is created independently from TIME’s editorial staff. Learn more.
Southwest Airlines is an airline that flies primarily within the U.S. and to nearby international destinations. Southwest Airlines airfares include two free checked bags and no seat assignments. Southwest instead assigns a boarding order and allows you to choose any available seat once you get on the plane.
Rapid Rewards is the loyalty program of Southwest and offers points that can be used for free flights with the airline. Most Rapid Rewards members earn their miles through a combination of flying with the airline, spending on the airline’s co-branded credit cards, and engaging with Southwest’s many retail, dining and service provider partners.
The value of a Southwest Airlines mile
The most common redemption holders of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points will make is for flights with the airline. And the amount of points you will need for any given flight varies with the cash price of the flight you choose. For Wanna Get Away airfares, Southwest Airlines miles are worth around 1.35 cents each.
How to earn Southwest Airlines miles
There are many ways to earn Rapid Rewards points. Flying Southwest Airlines can get you points toward your next trip. But so can spending on one of Southwest’s credit cards offered in partnership with Chase. You can even earn miles from dining or shopping online. Here are the ways you can earn Rapid Rewards points.
When you fly Southwest Airlines, you earn Rapid Rewards points based on the fare type, your frequent flier status, and the base fare. The “base fare” is the airfare before taxes and fees are added. When you purchase a flight with Southwest, you’ll see the base fare displayed as the “subtotal” on the checkout page. Like with most U.S. airlines, the miles you earn are not earned based on the distance you fly, but rather on the dollar value of your ticket.
Here’s what you’ll earn with each Southwest fare type:
- Business Select: 12 points per dollar.
- Anytime: 10 points per dollar.
- Wanna Get Away Plus: 8 points per dollar.
- Wanna Get Away: 6 points per dollar.
If you have frequent flier status with Southwest, the airline will award you even more points for your flights. If you have achieved A-List status with Southwest, you will earn 25% bonus miles on every flight. A-List Preferred members earn 100% bonus miles, meaning you could earn up to 24 miles per dollar you spend on a Business Select fare as an A-List Preferred member.
In addition to flying, Southwest awards Rapid Rewards points when you engage with one of its several partner programs.
You can earn points for your hotel stays. Hotel partners include Southwest Hotels, Best Western, Radisson Rewards Americas, Choice Hotels, World of Hyatt, Marriott Bonvoy, and MGM Rewards. You can also earn rewards for shopping and dining. Rapid Rewards Shopping offers an opportunity to earn additional rewards by shopping at over 800 popular online merchants, while Rapid Rewards Dining allows you to accumulate points when you dine at partner restaurants.
In addition to hotel, shopping, and dining, Southwest offers a handful of other partner opportunities that may be of interest. That includes regional energy providers and rewards for participating in consumer research surveys.
Southwest Airlines has four co-branded credit cards that earn Southwest Rapid Rewards in a variety of categories.
Credit cards to earn Southwest Airlines miles
Three personal credit cards offered in partnership with Chase can help you earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
- card_name. This card offers two points for every $1 you spend on Southwest Airlines purchases and comes with a annual_fees annual fee.
- card_name. This card awards three points for every $1 you spend on Southwest Airlines and charges a annual_fees annual fee.
- card_name. The priority credit card also gives you three points for every $1 you spend on Southwest Airlines and comes with a $75 annual Southwest credit for a annual_fees annual fee.
All of the Southwest Airlines personal credit cards also offer two points per $1 spent on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases, two points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting, two points per $1 spent on internet, cable, and phone services and select streaming providers, and one point per $1 spent on everyday purchases.
For small business owners, Southwest offers the card_name. For a annual_fees annual fee, this card offers four points for every $1 you spend on Southwest Airlines purchases, three points for every $1 you spend with Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, two points per dollar spent on select categories and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
In addition, Southwest partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards. If you hold a premium Ultimate Rewards-earning credit card that charges an annual fee, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest.
What can you get for your Southwest Airlines miles?
Most Rapid Rewards members will get the most value from their points by redeeming them for Southwest Airlines flights. Rapid Rewards points can be redeemed for any Southwest Airlines flight that has seats available. You can redeem your points for flights at Southwest.com
You can also redeem your Rapid Rewards points for gift cards, various merchandise, hotel stays, and experiences, such as cruises, spa packages, rafting, hiking, biking, kayaking, rock climbing, horseback riding, and jeep tours.
Pros and cons of Southwest Airlines miles: Our valuation
The number of Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards required to purchase a ticket on Southwest Airlines is tied to the revenue price of the ticket. Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards are worth about 1.35 cents each when you purchase Wanna Get Away fares.
|Valuation Factor||Our Take|
Average value for U.S. domestic coach flights
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards are worth about 1.35 cents each toward Wanna Get Away fares.
Opportunity for enhanced value
Southwest’s reward program offers no opportunity for increased value through partner redemptions.
Southwest Airlines allows you to cancel both revenue and Rapid Rewards tickets up to 10 minutes prior to departure. Tickets booked with miles will have the miles redeposited into the purchaser’s Rapid Rewards account.
Should you use Southwest Airlines miles or pay cash?
Since Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards redemptions are pegged to the cash price of a ticket, it generally makes sense to use Southwest Airlines miles if you have them, rather than pay cash for a ticket.
The one exception is if you are looking to earn A-List or A-List preferred status with Southwest. Only tickets that you purchase with cash will count toward qualification for A-List status.
Southwest Airlines miles vs. competition
While the exact value you get for your Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards varies, for most other programs, the value you get from your miles will depend on your travel patterns and how you redeem them. Here is how the value of Southwest Airlines miles compares with the competition.
|Rewards Program||Value of Average Mile (cents)|
Southwest Rapid Rewards
If you are a frequent Southwest flier, this could be for you
Southwest Airlines miles offer great value for some people. The points are easily usable at a value of around 1.35 cents each, making it a competitive rewards program. You can earn Rapid Rewards points by flying, using one of the many Southwest rewards cards and shopping through the program’s 800+ retail partners. If you live near an airport where Southwest Airlines offers a strong schedule, it should be easy to use your Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Should you use your Southwest Airlines miles for upgrades?
Southwest Airlines does not offer a first-class cabin, so you can’t use your Southwest miles for upgrades.
How many Southwest miles does it take to get a free flight?
The number of Southwest Airlines miles required for a free flight depends on the cash price of that same flight. The cheapest flight on Southwest might cost 3,500 Rapid Rewards points or less.
What airlines can I use Southwest miles on?
Unlike some of its competitors, Southwest Airlines has not partnered up with other airlines.. If you want to earn points for free flights, be aware that Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards can only be used for travel on Southwest Airlines.
The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.