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Southwest Airlines has some of the most dedicated fans in the airline business. If you’re one of them and you’re sitting on a bunch of hard-earned Rapid Rewards points, you might be wondering how much those points are worth.
Based on our analysis, the short answer is this: the Southwest points value is about 1.4 cents each. This is a baseline value, drawn from real-world data (see below) on hundreds of economy routes, not a maximized value. In other words, you should aim for award redemptions that offer 1.4 cents or more in value from your Southwest points.
» Learn more: The complete guide to Southwest’s Rapid Rewards program
What does this value mean?
Our value of 1.4 cents per Southwest point is an average, baseline value that can help determine whether a given redemption is "worth it." The value is based on real-world data (see below) and is effectively what you can expect to get from your Rapids Rewards points if you use them for a random redemption.
The value of Southwest is relatively constant. Since there is no award chart, the value of Rapid Rewards points is pegged to a specific cash amount. If the price of a flight increases, the number of points needed to book it will increase accordingly. Southwest offers few “sweet spots.” Also, the airline’s points can’t be used to book with partner airlines. For most people, this makes it easy to decide to book flights with points because you'll get essentially the same value for your points every time.
How to convert Southwest points to dollars
Use this Southwest point value calculator to determine the cash value of any number of Rapid Rewards points. This is useful when determining the value of a promotion, or when trying to decide whether to use cash or miles to book a flight.
How flexible are Southwest points?
To put it frankly: Rapids Rewards points aren't very flexible. Sure, you might be able to use them for non-flight options through the "More Rewards" portal for stuff like merchandise and gift cards, but these redemptions rarely match or exceed the value of using them to purchase Southwest flights.
In fact, NerdWallet conducted a comprehensive analysis of the Southwest More Rewards program and found that — based on those same airline miles valuations — items are marked up by more than 100% on average. In general, use Southwest Rapids Rewards points to book flights, but that's about it.
The good news: Rapid Rewards points don't expire. The only way you'll lose your points is if you close your account.
How do Southwest points compare to other airline loyalty miles?
Per our analysis, Southwest Rapid Rewards points are some of the most valuable airline awards available. See the table below for how they stack up with other programs.
Despite their relatively high value, if you’re looking for more adventurous, high-value flight redemptions, (like booking international first-class suites), you’re better off looking to other programs that enable partner redemptions. Southwest Rapid Rewards points offer plenty of consistent value, but less razzle-dazzle.
» Learn more: Don't just redeem miles — redeem them wisely. Here's how
How has this value changed over time?
We’ve been tracking Southwest Rapid Rewards points since 2019, and this most recent valuation saw a small dip in value, from 1.6 cents the previous years to the current value of 1.4 cents per point.
Southwest Rapid Rewards points value over time
Southwest used to lead the pack in terms of airline point and mile valuations, but not anymore. The decline is due to Southwest’s points devaluation in early 2021, meaning it now costs more points to book a $100 flight than it did in 2020. Southwest's points stayed steady in value between 2019 and 2020, but the airline decreased its points’ value by .02 cents in 2021.
How did we determine the value of Southwest Rapid Rewards points?
We collected hundreds of data points comparing the cash value to award (point) value for the same routes and dates. That is, we compared the cost of a given ticket in either cash or points across many tickets.
This method differs from many others in that it looks at real-world redemptions rather than hypothetical, maximized redemptions. The advantage of this approach is that it provides an actual, real-world indication of how much these points are worth on average. That said, it doesn’t take into account the high-value redemptions that points enthusiasts seek.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card