Southwest Airlines has a reputation for putting its customers first. Its good-humored staff, no-fuss offerings and affordable fares make it easy for people to get where they’re going.
This commitment — connecting people to what’s important in their lives — extends to its rewards program, too. Here are four ways Southwest’s Rapid Rewards soars above the competition by putting travelers first.
1. You earn points quickly
Southwest provides multiple avenues for earning points. With so many options, Rapid Rewards members will find themselves racking up the rewards, well, rapidly. Members can:
Earn between 6 and 24 points per dollar on Southwest flights.
Earn points on hotel, rental car, dining and retail purchases made at any of Southwest’s dining and retail partners.
The Rapid Rewards Shopping online store is a good place to start. By browsing Rapid Rewards Shopping, you can find more than 800 participating brands, deals and products, and earn points in the process.
For a more hands-off approach, there’s also the Rapid Rewards Shopping Button. Just install it in your browser, and it will automatically alert you when you’re about to make an online purchase that qualifies for points.
NerdWallet values Southwest Rapid Rewards points at 1.6 cents each, so just make sure you're getting at least that much value no matter how you use them.
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2. You get more for your points
Rapid Rewards is a revenue-based rewards program. This means that the number of points required to book a particular flight is based on the price of that flight.
Southwest, of course, is famous for its low-priced fares. In a revenue-based rewards program, low-priced fares mean getting to your destination for fewer points than competing rewards programs require. Ultimately, this means your points have the power to take you farther (more frequently) when you redeem them for flights.
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You can also redeem your points for gift cards. You won’t get as much bang for your buck as you would using those points for flights, though.
3. You can make or break plans easily
No one can predict the future, though many of us have wished we’d had that ability before we booked a nonrefundable plane ticket. Fortunately, you don’t need to consult a crystal ball before booking a Southwest flight with points. This program is as flexible as they come.
First, there are no blackout dates. So if you need to travel at a specific time (like the holidays) or for a specific purpose (like a family emergency), Southwest will always let you use your points to get there.
And if your plans suddenly shift, there’s no fee to change your reservation. You only need to cover any difference in the fare price with additional Rapid Rewards points from your account.
Even if you miss your point-purchased flight, Southwest will refund those points to your account automatically.
4. You can bring a friend for free
The Southwest Companion Pass is among the most coveted airline perks of all time.
A Rapid Rewards member reaches Companion Pass status after taking 100 qualifying one-way flights or earning 110,000 qualifying points in one calendar year (this requirement is increasing to 125,000 in 2020). After that, you get to bring one designated person for free (except for taxes and security fees) on all of your Southwest flights until the end of the following calendar year.
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This is ideal if you have a go-to travel partner. However, if you need a little more flexibility, you can change your designated companion up to three times a year.
Just add this to the list of ways Southwest is connecting its customers to the things, and people, that are most important.
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 2021, 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
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: Travel rewards bucket list: Showering on a plane How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards This strategy is how I started earning major travel rewards