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Southwest Rapid Rewards Points

Overall Score 4.5-stars
No. of Daily Flights More than 2,000
Geographic Coverage 3.0-stars
Ease of Earning Free Flight 5.0-stars
Free Flight Options 4.0-stars
Additional Benefits 3.0-stars
About these ratings

Points

By enrolling in the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, you'll earn points for every dollar spent on Southwest flights. These points can be used to cover the cost of air travel on Southwest Airlines and can be converted to A+ rewards points for flights on AirTran until the airlines are fully merged at the end of 2014.

Earning Points

The number of points you earn for flying Southwest depends on the type of fare you choose. You will earn 12 points per dollar with "Business Select" fares, 10 points per dollar with "Anytime" fares and six points per dollar with "Wanna Get Away" fares. If you're a Southwest Rapid Rewards Chase Visa credit card holder, you can earn two points for every dollar spent on all Southwest and AirTran flights and with Southwest's hotel and car rental partners. You'll also earn one point for every dollar spent on all other purchases. Southwest also has partnerships with various hotel and car rental programs, like Best Western and Alamo, in addition to restaurants around the U.S. These partnerships allow Rapid Rewards members to earn points on non-Southwest purchases. Only "Tier Qualifying Points" — those earned from Southwest flights or through the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card from Chase Visa — will count toward a higher membership status. Bonus Points (points offered through a Southwest promotion) and points earned from converting your A+ Rewards do not count toward your membership. If you don't have the necessary amount of points needed to redeem a reward, you can buy up to 60,000 points through the Southwest Airlines website, but you must make a minimum purchase of 1,000 points.  

Using Points

To redeem points for a free flight, you must purchase your ticket through the Southwest Airlines website or over the phone with a customer service representative. The number of points needed to cover the cost of a flight varies by fare type and by ticket price. "Business Select" fares require 120 points per dollar, "Anytime" fares require 100 points per dollar and "Wanna Get Away" fares cost 60 points per dollar. Below you'll find the minimum number of miles needed (as of spring 2013) to cover a round-trip flight on five of Southwest's most popular routes:

Route Lowest calculated round-trip cost (in points) Lowest calculated direct round-trip cost (in points)
Dallas - Houston
8,160 8,160
Las Vegas - San Diego 7,200 7,200
Burbank - Oakland
6,960 6,960
Las Vegas - Los Angeles 6,120 6,120
Chicago - Las Vegas
17,640 17,640

The calculated costs shown above are based on booking searches conducted by U.S. News Travel on May 30, 2013. We analyzed flights departing Thursday and returning Monday, three weeks, six weeks and three months from the research date.

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