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, plus retail items and gift cards. Additional redemption options, such as hotel stays and car rentals, are available to members with a Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card or a Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

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 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 has partnerships with various hotel brands and car rental companies like Best Western, Marriott, Alamo and Budget, as well as retailers participating in the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal and restaurants around the United States. Southwest also partners with Marathon, so you can earn one point per gallon of gas purchased at participating Marathon gas stations. Another way to accrue points is to participate in market research surveys. Only Tier Qualifying Points – those earned from Southwest flights or through the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards – will count toward a higher membership status. Bonus Points (points offered through Southwest promotions) do not count toward your membership status. If you don't have the minimum amount of points needed to redeem a reward, you can buy points through the Southwest Airlines website.

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, demand, destination, time and other factors. Below you'll find the minimum number of miles needed (as of July 2018) to cover a round-trip flight on six of Southwest's most popular routes:

Route Lowest calculated round-trip cost (in points)
Houston - Dallas  13,610
Las Vegas - Los Angeles 8,533
Baltimore - San Diego 16,544
Hartford, Connecticut - Las Vegas 25,016
Houston - Las Vegas 17,472
St. Louis - Phoenix 20,534

The calculated costs shown above are based on booking searches conducted by U.S. News in July 2018. We analyzed 12 of each airline's highly trafficked routes within three round-trip mileage categories: short domestic, medium domestic and long for three different round-trip dates between July and September. 

Accrued points can also be cashed in for partner gift cards (think: Amazon and Best Buy) and merchandise sold on the Rapid Rewards Shopping portal. If you have a Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card, you have access to additional redemption options, including hotel stays, car rentals, cruises and international flights on 50-plus carriers. Another option is to use your points for experiences, such as wine tastings, golf trips and spa packages.

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