Southwest’s loyalty program is called Rapid Rewards, in this post we will look at what these points can be redeemed for and how much these points are worth. You can read other posts we have in this series below:
- How Much Are FlexPerks Points Worth?
- How Much Are La Quinta Returns Rewards Points Worth?
- How Much Are JetBlue TrueBlue Points Worth?
- How Much Are BBVA Compass Points Worth? (DoubleTriple Points & CompassPoints)
What Can The Points Be Redeemed For?
You can redeem points for any of the following:
- Southwest flights: 1.39¢+ per point
- Gift cards: Up to 1¢ per point
- Other travel: Up to 1¢ per point
Most people will be able to get the best value out of their Southwest points by redeeming them for Southwest flights. Unlike other airlines the cost of all flights with Southwest is tied to the cash rate of that flight. When you redeem your points for wanna get away fares, you’ll be charged 78 points per $1 (1.28¢ per point).
It’s important to remember that when you redeem points for flights you’re only charged for the base fare and not taxes (although you do have to pay the mandatory TSA fee of $5.6 for one ways and $11.20 for round trip flights). This means you’ll get better value out of Southwest flights where a larger portion of the cash rate are taxes/fees. Let’s take a look at some sample flights to give you a practical example:
- Flight one: $485 or 33,523 points (1.45¢ per point)
- Flight two: $49 or 2,542 points (1.92¢ per point)
In general cheaper flights will give you a better value per point but regardless you’re still paying 72 points per $1 on the base fare. Keep in mind that is only for Wanna Get Away Fares, the other fares have a sliding scale. Here is a history of how much these points have been worth:
- 2011-2014 (March): All points were worth a fixed 1.67¢ per point
- 2014 (April) – 2015 (April, 16th): All points were worth a fixed 1.43¢
- 2015 (April 17th) – 2016 (April 19th or so): Fares in the lowest class were worth a fixed 1.43¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale
- 2016 (April 19th or so) – 2018 (April 3rd): Fares in the lowest class are worth a fixed 1.39¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale
- 2018 April 3rd – Currently: Fares in the lowest class are worth a fixed 1.28¢, fares in other classes reduced
Don’t I Get Double Value By Holding The Companion Pass?
The Southwest Companion Pass allows you to have one companion fly for free (you just have to pay the $5.6/$11.20 TSA fee). Some people like to think that 2.78¢ per point, but your companion would be able to fly for free if you booked a cash fare as well so that doesn’t make any logical sense.
Southwest have large variety of gift cards that you can redeem points for at the following rates:
- $25 gift card = 3,000 points (0.833¢ per point)
- $50 gift card = 5,000 points (1¢ per point)
- $100 gift card = 10,000 points (1¢ per point)
- $150 gift card = 10,000 points (1¢ per point)
Basically after you redeem more than 5,000 points you’ll get 1¢ per point in value. I know that Southwest used to sometimes have sales on these gift cards, but I can’t remember the last time they did (please let us know in the comments).
Some of the gift cards they offer are as follows:
- Bed Bath & Beyond
Southwest advertises having options such as car rentals & cruises, but these are just gift cards to those options at the same rates as above.
Like most points programs, Southwest allows you to redeem your points for merchandise. I thought I’d do a quick price comparison to show you that this is a terrible deal:
- Parrot Bebop Drone & Sky Controller Bundle: 80,358 points or $299 on Amazon (0.372¢ per point)
- Bose SoundLink III Bluetooth Mobile Speaker: 39,578 points (on special from 41,991 points) or $269 on Amazon (on special from $299) gives you 0.679¢. Even if we compare the Southwest RR sale price to full price on Amazon you’re still only getting 0.755¢ per point.
Honestly please do not redeem for merchandise, it’s for suckers.
You should be aiming to use your Southwest Rapid Rewards points for Southwest flights to get the best value out of them, it looks like they have reduced their gift card redemption options somewhat compared to when I remember last checking but at least you know you can get 1¢ per point there (and convert that to cash at probably 80-90% of facevalue for a base line of 0.8¢ per point).