Southwest Airlines is known for its generous ticket change and cancellation policies, complimentary checked bags, and unique boarding process. Another attractive feature for frequent travelers is the Southwest Rapid Rewards loyalty program.

A significant advantage is the program’s lack of blackout dates for award redemption. Moreover, it offers an amazing Companion Pass benefit, which allows you to bring a companion on paid and award flights for just the cost of taxes and fees.

If you’re new to Southwest or want to learn more about its loyalty program, this guide will cover everything you need to know about redeeming your Rapid Rewards points. Fortunately, the process is relatively straightforward, but there are some specifics you should be aware of.

This article will focus on redeeming Rapid Rewards points for flights. You can also redeem points for gift cards, merchandise, hotels, experiences and Rapid Rewards events, but Southwest flights almost always offer the best return on your hard-earned points.

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Redeem points on Southwest flights

Zach Griff/The Points Guy

Redeeming Rapid Rewards points on Southwest flights is easy. The number of points required for a ticket is proportional to the cash price of the ticket, so the higher the price of the paid seat, the more points you have to redeem. Southwest promises no blackout dates on any redemption, so you can use your Rapid Rewards points to book any Southwest Airlines ticket on sale. If there’s an open seat left on the flight, you’ll still be able to book it with points (but be prepared to pay).

By July 2024, TPG Southwest points are valued at 1.4 cents each, and it’s easy to consistently earn that value whether you’re booking domestic or international flights. (This value was slightly lower after Southwest devalued Rapid Rewards points by 4%.)

The booking process is easy. Go to Southwest’s website and enter your flight search parameters. Be sure to check the “Points” option on the top right to see the results for award flights.


The results page will then display all available flights using points. If desired, you can filter by details such as price, duration and departure time. Select the one you want, log into your account (if you haven’t already) and follow the on-screen steps to complete your redemption.

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You can reserve any fare class using Rapid Rewards points, but we recommend sticking to Wanna Get Away fares. That’s because when you book more expensive fare types, your redemption value is lower and the benefits you get are limited. Business Select fares, for example, include priority boarding and security, a free premium beverage on flights over 176 miles, and free inflight internet — relatively small perks for a hefty increase in points.

If you have a Chase Travel Card, you have the option to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for Southwest flights through the Chase Travel℠ portal. Because flights booked through the portal appear as revenue tickets, you’ll still earn Rapid Rewards points on flights booked with points this way.

For example, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you can pay for your ticket with Ultimate Rewards points at 1.5 cents per point, which allows you to fly for free while also earning Rapid Rewards points. But be aware that flight prices through the portal can be higher, so always compare prices with Southwest’s site before booking.

Free award ticket changes and cancellations

Another thing that makes Rapid Rewards points so popular is Southwest’s flexible change and cancellation policies.

You can change any Southwest flight for free and are only responsible for paying the difference between your original and new flights. If the price of the award flight you booked goes down, you can rebook your trip at a lower rate and you’ll be refunded the difference in points.

If your plans change and you can’t make an award flight, you can cancel for free. Your points will be refunded to your account without penalty (even on Wanna Get Away rentals). You can also choose the tax paid to go back to the credit card used to book the reservation.

One thing to remember: you can’t no-show for a flight and get your points back. You must cancel at least 10 minutes before the scheduled departure, which is still very light.

RELATED: How to Recover Southwest Flight Costs When Fares Drop

The Companion Pass doubles the value of your Southwest points

One way to maximize the value of your Rapid Rewards points is by earning a Southwest Companion Pass. With this benefit, you can choose a companion to fly with you on all your Southwest flights while your pass is valid. Regardless of whether you used cash or points for your ticket, your companion will only need to pay taxes and fees for their ticket. You can use your pass as long as there is a seat available for your companion on the flight. This essentially doubles the value of your Fast Rewards when traveling with your designated companion.

To earn a Companion Pass, you must either earn 135,000 qualifying points or complete 100 qualifying one-way flights on Southwest in a calendar year. Once received, you will have a Companion Pass for the remainder of the current year and the entire following year.

Qualifying points for the Companion Pass can be earned on paid Southwest flights, spending on a Southwest credit card, shopping and dining through the Rapid Rewards portal, and using Southwest partnerships. Keep in mind that flights booked using Southwest’s new Cash + Points option will not earn Companion Pass-qualifying points, but will count toward Companion Pass-qualifying flight segments. Points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards and Marriott Bonvoy (more on that later) also don’t count toward the Companion Pass.

Here’s a look at some current Southwest card offers:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Plus Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards® Priority Credit Card: Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
  • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Credit Card: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, and an additional 60,000 points when you spend $15,000 within nine months.
  • Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card: Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of account opening, and an additional 40,000 points when you spend $15,000 within nine months.

With these generous welcome offers, getting a Companion Pass becomes relatively easy. If you can meet the minimum spend requirement on a Premier Business Card or Performance Business Card to receive the maximum 120,000-point welcome offer, you’ll automatically earn a Companion Pass. That’s because 120,000 bonus points count toward the pass, and you’ll earn at least 15,000 more points for spending $15,000 on the card — adding up to the 135,000 points you need for the Companion Pass.

If you choose one of the individual cards like Plus or Priority, the welcome bonus will get you up to a third of the Companion Pass. You’ll need to earn 85,000 more points, which you can earn by spending more on your new card, flying with Southwest, shopping with partners, or a combination of these methods.

Information for Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier is independently collected by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

RELATED: 15 Lessons from 15 Years of Owning a Southwest Companion Pass

Southwest Rapid Rewards FAQ


Have questions about Southwest Rapid Rewards? Let’s address them.

How do I join Southwest Rapid Rewards?

You can join the Southwest Rapid Rewards program for free Southwest’s website. Just click the “Create Account” link at the top of the page.


Next, fill in the requested information and click the yellow “Create Account” button at the bottom of the screen. Your account will be created instantly and you can start earning and redeeming Rapid Rewards points.

When do Southwest Rapid Rewards points expire?

Southwest Rapid Rewards points do not expire as long as your account is open.

Can I transfer points to Southwest?

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 1:1 ratio, meaning 10,000 Chase points equals 10,000 Rapid Rewards points. These transfers usually process instantly. While this is a solid transfer ratio, keep in mind that as of July 2024, TPG values ​​Chase points at 2.05 cents each (compared to 1.4 cents for Rapid Rewards points), so you may lose some value in the process.

You can also transfer Marriott Bonvoy points to Southwest Rapid Rewards at a 3:1 transfer ratio. You’ll get 5,000 bonus Rapid Rewards points for every 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points transferred, so 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points are worth 25,000 Rapid Rewards points. This transfer ratio isn’t ideal, but it’s a good option if you’re short on points for Southwest redemptions.

RELATED: What It’s Really Like to Fly Southwest Airlines to Hawaii

Bottom line

Southwest Rapid Rewards points are an excellent choice for travelers looking for flexibility in booking flights within an extensive domestic network. With the added benefit of fee-free changes and cancellations along with the inclusion of two free checked bags for each passenger, Southwest is the preferred option for many travelers.

Southwest points are easy to redeem for flights, and being able to transfer points through partners or bookings through the Chase travel portal adds flexibility. Furthermore, the Companion Pass allows you to double the value of your points when traveling with a friend or family member.

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